The Australian Open has seen its first major upset, with an Australian wildcard knocking out a seeded star in the first round.
Welcome to our live coverage of day one of the Australian Open.
Yes, amongst this Novak Djokovic mess, there will actually be some tennis played today!
The men’s world No. 1 may have been deported but the top-ranked women’s player will still be in action. Aussie favourite Ash Barty kicks off her campaign against Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko on Rod Laver Arena tonight.
Rod Laver Arena
From 11am: Tatjana Maria vs Maria Sakkari (5)
Camila Osorio vs Naomi Osaka (13)
Not before 2pm: Marcos Giron vs Rafael Nadal (6)
From 7pm: Ash Barty (1) vs Lesia Tsurenko
Alexander Zverev (3) vs Daniel Altmaier
Margaret Court Arena
From 11am: Elina Svitolina (15) beat Fiona Ferro 6-1 7-6
Matteo Berrettini (7) vs Brandon Nakashima
Qiang Wang vs Coco Gauff (18)
From 7pm: John Millman vs Feliciano Lopez
Ajla Tomljanovic vs Paula Badosa (8)
Aussie stuns with huge upset
Aleksandar Vukic caused a huge boilover when the Aussie wildcard beat South African Lloyd Harris in four sets.
World No. 144 Vukic lost the first set but rebounded to beat Harris, the world No. 33 who entered the tournament as the 30th seed, 4-6 6-3 7-5 7-6 (7-3). It’s easily the biggest win of Vukic’s career as he celebrated a maiden grand slam victory.
“My whole family is here and few friends as well,” he told Channel 9.
“It means the world. They are with me day in and day out and through ups and downs. A lot of stuff that people don’t see. I’m so grateful for them.”
Sleeveless star makes his mark
Teenager Carlos Alcaraz channelled his inner Rafael Nadal by taking to court seven in a sleeveless tank-top and brushing aside qualifier Alejandro Tabilo 6-2 6-2 6-3.
The 18-year-old, who made the quarter-finals of last year’s US Open, impressed observers. Tennis writer Tumaini Carayol tweeted: “Intensity and movement are just off the charts, as is his return of serve, shotmaking off both wings and delicate touches right now.”
D’Arcy Maine of ESPN wrote: “Alcaraz with the sleeveless vintage Nadal energy. I don’t hate it.”
Tennis sign as Aussie as it gets
Fried crocodile for lunch, anyone?
Early results roll in
Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic is into the second round after beating Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic 6-4 6-3, Italian Camila Giorgi toppled Anastasia Potapova in straight sets and Yulia Putintseva was upset 6-3 6-3 by Harmony Tan.
Fifteenth seed Elina Svitolina was also an early winner, defeating Fiona Ferro 6-1 7-6, American young gun Amanda Anisimova came back from a set down to beat Dutch qualifier Arianne Hartono and fifth seed Maria Sakkari overcame Tatjana Maria 6-4 7-6 in a hard-fought affair that lasted one hour and 46 minutes.
Kyrgios packs on PDA in Melbourne, reacts to Novak call
Nick Kyrgios was cosying up with new flame Costeen Hatzi as he practised at Melbourne Park on Sunday.
The Aussie tennis star, who revealed last week he had caught Covid-19, is confident he’ll be right to take on Brit Liam Broady in their first round clash on Tuesday.
Kyrgios is dating Hatzi after a bitter break-up with ex-girlfriend Chiara Passari, and was happy to show his affection while having a hit yesterday.
Kyrgios has been vocal in his support of Djokovic and was clearly unimpressed when it was announced he would be deported, tweeting one emoji to sum up his feelings.
The Canberra product also questioned a take by French tennis star Alize Cornet, who suggested Djokovic was abandoned by his fellow players.
Scene set for day one
Finally some tennis. The Australian Open begins on Monday after a chaotic and controversial build-up dominated by the visa saga that engulfed Novak Djokovic.
The unvaccinated Serbian will not be at Melbourne Park to defend his title after his last-gasp court bid to stay in the country failed on the eve of the first grand slam of the year.
The 34-year-old flew out of Australia on Sunday night, his dreams of becoming the first man to win 21 majors over, at least for now.
Djokovic will continue to cast a dark shadow over the showpiece, but there will be relief from players that they can finally get on with the business of winning tennis matches.
Prime among them in Monday’s first round will be Rafael Nadal, who begins his title charge against the 66th-ranked American Marcos Giron. The Spaniard is also going after a 21st Grand Slam crown.
After injury and contracting Covid-19 in December, the 35-year-old is just happy to be back on court in Melbourne, where crowds have been capped at 50 per cent because of the pandemic.
“When you’re coming back from injuries and from a period of time that you are not going on the tour, you need to accept things are not going to be perfect,” said Nadal.
Also playing on day one in the men’s draw are third seed Alexander Zverev and seventh seed Matteo Berrettini. There will be no Roger Federer this year, with the Swiss great battling injury.
One defending champion may not be there in Djokovic, but the other is in the form of Naomi Osaka. The Japanese player, who is seeded 13th after taking an extended break from tennis at the back end of last year, starts her campaign against Camila Osorio of Colombia.
After a turbulent 2021 during which the four-time major winner said she had suffered depression, Osaka is determined to have more fun this year.
“There’s a different feeling I get when I come to Australia,” said Osaka, who also won the Australian Open in 2019.
“Everyone is really warm and welcoming. I just remember all the tough battles that I’ve had here. It’s definitely a very positive feeling.”
It remains to be seen if Osaka is firmly back in the groove after her lay-off and she will need to topple world No. 1 Ash Barty if she is to make it a hat-trick in Melbourne.
The 25-year-old Barty is the firm favourite to win her home slam for the first time. She will be under intense pressure from an expectant crowd, but Barty — who won the singles and doubles titles in a warm-up tournament in Adelaide — was playing it characteristically cool.
“Regardless of the number next to my name, that doesn’t change the way we approach it,” said Barty of being the top seed.
“Particularly here in Australia, it’s exciting. I get to play in front of incredible fans, my family, which is amazing.”
Barty starts against Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko.
Also in action on Monday are top-10 seeds Barbora Krejcikova, Maria Sakkari and Paula Badosa.
Serena Williams is not in Melbourne because of fitness concerns.