Roger Federer and Caroline Wozniacki open their Australian Open title defences Monday as Andy Murray takes to the court for what could be his farewell match at Melbourne Park and potentially his last ever.
There’s a heavy local flavour to Day One as James Duckworth takes on Rafael Nadal and Alex de Minaur, Ash Barty, Bernard Tomic, John Millman, Matthew Ebden, Jordan Thompson and Ellez Perry all features.
Sharapova dishes out a double bagel
Maria Sharapova left Britain’s Harriet Dart in tears after a 6-0 6-0 destruction saw the Russian cruise into the second round.
Dart, 22, was seen pulling her cap over his face and wiping her eyes as she left Rod Laver Arena. She won three matches in qualifying last week to earn a spot in the main draw at Melbourne Park, but was thoroughly outclassed, winning only 29 points.
Sharapova is chasing her first grand slam title since serving a 15-month doping ban. The No. 30 seed needed just 63 minutes to trounce Dart. Sharapova’s second-round opponent will be Swede Rebecca Peterson, who thumped Romanian Sorana Cristea 6-46-1.
The Russian’s haul of five major titles includes the 2008 Australian Open crown. Sharapova’s most recent grand slam crown came at the 2014 French Open. Less than two years later she was hit with a two-year doping ban – later reduced to 15 months – for testing positive to the banned substance meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.
“It’s been many years since I lifted the trophy here,” Sharapova said on Monday. “I love competing but I also love challenging myself because the younger players are always getting better.”
Fellow seeds Caroline Garcia, Aryna Sabalenka, Donna Vekic and Petra Martic also progressed without trouble.
We’re going to miss Andy Murray
May well be the final day in Andy Murray’s professional career tomorrow but he’s still making time to troll Nick Kyrgios 😂 pic.twitter.com/mefeUKIjxF
— George Bellshaw (@BellshawGeorge) January 13, 2019
Andy Murray’s body might be letting him down on court but he remains a deadly opponent on social media. Just ask Nick Kyrgios.
The soon-to-be-retired Brit appeared to be out for dinner with the Aussie last night but caught him unawares with a sneaky snap, which he uploaded to Instagram with the caption: “Nick Kyrgios having dinner with all his mates.”
Djoker’s emotional Murray tribute
Novak Djokovic has revealed he was lost for words in an emotional meeting with longtime rival Andy Murray at the Australian Open.
Murray stunned the tennis world by revealing he’s no guarantee to play past this tournament as he battles with ongoing injury problems.
His revelation was met with an outpouring of tributes from his rivals and Djokovic added his own on the eve of the tournament.
“What you are trying to do is nothing short of brave and inspiring,” the world number one wrote on Instagram. “I met with you the other day and couldn’t really verbalise my compassion for what you’re going through. As an athlete, fellow tennis player and friend, I respect and fully support you every second of this Australian Open and every next attempt to compete at the highest level. Whatever happens, I will always cherish our amazing matches over the years and be grateful for those experiences.”
Day One: Federer, Nadal up first
Roger Federer starts his campaign on day one against Denis Istomin on Rod Laver Arena — the Uzbek who caused a massive upset two years ago when he knocked out Novak Djokovic in the second round.
“I’m playing good tennis. I’m confident that I think it needs a good performance by my opponent probably to beat me,” said Federer, the third seed.
World number one Djokovic starts his tournament on Tuesday.
Scottish former world number one Murray tearfully revealed last week that severe pain from a hip injury was proving too much to bear and he planned to retire this year.
He said he would like to finish his career at Wimbledon, but admitted the Australian Open could be his last tournament.
Spain’s 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut is the man who could draw the curtain on Murray’s time in Melbourne, where he has been a five-time finalist.
“I can still play, but not to a level I’m happy playing at,” said Murray ahead of his evening clash in Melbourne Arena on a day when temperatures are forecast to soar to 37C. “The pain is too much really.”
Federer is six years older than Murray at 37, but has so far avoided the type of injuries that have hampered players much younger.
Second seed Rafael Nadal, another who has struggled with injuries, is also in action against Australian James Duckworth.
The Spanish 17-time Grand Slam champion is returning after surgery on a troublesome foot injury, but insists he is recovered and raring to go.
“I feel good. If I am not feeling good, I will not be here,” he said ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year.
Denmark’s Wozniacki broke through for her first Slam title in Melbourne last year, beating Simona Halep in the final, and said she was relishing defending a major for the first time.
“I’m just excited. I think it’s a positive to be here as the defending champion. I’m just taking it as a nice, fun challenge,” she said with Belgium’s Alison van Uytvanck her first opponent.
Second seed Angelique Kerber, the 2016 champion, has an opening match against Slovakia’s Polona Hercog, while Petra Kvitova, fresh from winning the Sydney International on Saturday, plays Magdalena Rybarikova.
American fifth seed Sloane Stephens and five-time major winner Maria Sharapova are also in action.