Novak, Serena maintain it easy

Melbourne, February 8

Novak Djokovic got his Australian Open title defence off to a rollicking start, breezing past Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-3 6-1 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena today.

The world No. 1, who has won eight of his 17 Major titles at Melbourne Park, rattled off 41 winners and did not face a single break point en route to victory.

Serena Williams kickstarted her bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title with a 6-1 6-1 drubbing of Germany’s Laura Siegemund before rushing off the court to watch Tom Brady win his seventh Super Bowl.

Nick Kyrgios treated the sparse crowd at the John Cain Arena to some vintage moments — a racquet thrown across the court, and a few choice words towards his box and the umpire — as he sailed to a 6-4 6-4 6-4 victory over Frederico Ferreira Silva.

Bianca Andreescu was made to work hard on her return to competition after 15 months, but the 2019 US Open winner dug deep to see off Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania 6-2 4-6 6-3.

Alexander Zverev overcame an inconsistent start and a smashed racquet to battle past unheralded American Marcos Giron 6-7(8) 7-6(5) 6-3 6-2, while US Open champion Dominic Thiem fended off Mikhail Kukushkin 7-6(2) 6-2 6-3. — Reuters

Day 1 highlights

Comeback win

Canadian 11th seed Denis Shapovalov sealed a comeback victory by beating Italian Jannik Sinner 3-6 6-3 6-2 4-6 6-4.

Through in straight sets

Simona Halep

World No. 2 Simona Halep sealed a comfortable 6-2 6-1 victory over Australian wildcard Lizette Cabrera. Venus Williams beat Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens 7-5 6-2 to reach the second round in front of about 200 fans on Margaret Court Arena.

Nishikori, Monfils shown door

Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta advanced to the second round with a 7-5 7-6(4) 6-2 win over world No. 42 Kei Nishikori. Frenchman Gael Monfils was beaten 3-6 6-4 7-5 3-6 6-3 by little-known Finn Emil Ruusuvuori in one of the day’s biggest upsets.

No trouble for Osaka

Third seed Naomi Osaka was the first player through to the second round after a 6-1 6-2 thrashing of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Fans trickle in on first day

Tennis fans wearing masks filtered into Melbourne Park. The tournament will welcome about half its usual capacity. There was no rush of spectators today and it was not clear if it was the overcast sky and 17°C temperature or coronavirus concerns keeping people away. Organisers, expecting a slow start to the two-week championships, said 17,922 fans passed through the gates today compared to 64,387 on Day 1 last year.

Kerber rues hard quarantine

Former champion Angelique Kerber made an early exit and said spending two weeks in hard quarantine had contributed to her first-round loss. The German lost 6-0 6-4 to USA’s Bernarda Pera, who was not one of the 72 players under hard quarantine. reuters

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