Australian Open 2021: Five things you missed overnight as Serena Williams wins well

Australian Open: Nick Kyrgios reacts to Bourchier win

The delayed first Grand Slam of the season finally got underway in Melbourne Park in front of limited crowds on a cloudy day Down Under.

Expect shocks – such as the defeat for former champion Angelique Kerber – after some players spent two weeks in hard lockdown because of Covid-19 protocols. But favourite Naomi Osaka and US Open winner Dominic Thiem are safely through.

World No.1 Novak Djokovic begins his defence of his title in the evening match against France’s Jeremy Chardy.

Serena’s latest pursuit of a record 24th Grand Slam title starts in style

The American superstar beat Germany’s Laura Siegemund 6-1 6-1 in a performance which will be better remembered for her latest daring outfit in tribute to Florence Griffith Joyner.

She said: “I was inspired by FloJo, who was a wonderful track athlete, amazing athlete when I was growing up. Her outfits were always amazing. This year we thought of what can we do to keep elevating the Serena Williams on the court.”

Before rushing off to watch the end of the Super Bowl, Williams was also pleased with her tennis and playing in front of a crowd.

She added: “This was a good start, vintage ‘Rena. I’m good at pacing myself in a Grand Slam. This is amazing. Last year was crazy for the world. To be able to do what I love and compete, makes me appreciate the moment even more.”

We will use your email address only for sending you newsletters. Please see our Privacy Notice for details of your data protection rights.

Gael Monfils’ “nightmare” Down Under

The No.10 seed made 64 unforced errors as he went down 3-6 6-4 7-5 3-6 6-3 to Finn Emil Ruusuvuori – his first opening round defeat in this event since 2006.

In his post-match press conference, the French No.1 struggled to hold back the tears after spending two weeks in quarantine only to fall at the first hurdle. “I’m lacking confidence,” he admitted.

“I’m lacking that thing I need to find to turn things around and starting winning. We want to win, I want to win, I have to rebuild. I don’t have any confidence. I would like to get out of this nightmare but I can’t. I don’t know when it’s going to end. It’s hard. Every time I get here I feel judged. I’ve lost again.”

Watch the Australian Open live on Eurosport and Eurosport app

Katie Boulter is out

The British star admitted she suffered from nerves in her first Grand Slam match for a year as she made 18 unforced errors in the first set on her way to losing 6-1 6-4 to world No.75 Daria Kasatkina.

The Leicester City fan, down to world No.371, is playing on a protected ranking but her playing time was limited by a back injury and the pandemic. She showed promising form by beating Coco Gauff in a warm-up event last week but could not perform on the bigger stage.

Boulter said: “I’m pretty disappointed with today. I felt like I never really got going, I felt quite uncomfortable out on the court.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself when really there was absolutely no need to. of course it’s a bigger tournament I’m going to feel a little bit added extra pressure. There’s bigger things at stake.

“I’m obviously going into it playing well and feeling good, so, yeah, I expect a lot of myself. There’s different times of pressure and unfortunately, I didn’t handle it as well as I would like to today.”

Kerber’s Australian Open regrets

The 2016 champion lost 6-0 6-4 to unseeded American Bernarda Pera in a little over an hour – and admitted she might not have flown down to Australia if she had known she would spend two weeks in hard lockdown.

The German was one of 72 players not allowed out of their hotel rooms for a fortnight after someone on her flight test positive for Covid-19.

Kerber said: “Of course, you feel it if you are not the hitting ball for two weeks and you are not in the rhythm, especially if you play one of the first matches in a Grand Slam against an opponent who didn’t stay in the hard lockdown.

“When I look back, of course I was not planning the two weeks in hard quarantine,” she added. “I don’t know, maybe if I knew that before to stay really two weeks in the hard quarantine without hitting a ball, maybe I would think twice about that.”

Others were happy with a £77,000 pay day

Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia 6-2 7-5 lost to Kazakh Zarina Diyas after her two weeks in lockdown. She will get the compensation of A$100,000 for being a first round loser.

And the world No.91 said: “Of course I’ll take it. I think it’s worth doing the 14-day quarantine when you come here.

“It’s still a really high prize money to get. I’m 22-years-old. I don’t come from a background that’s rich. I come from a small country, I never got a lot of sponsors or anything. I’m glad that I’m here and I can get what I get.”

Source: Read Full Article