Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 8, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates winning his first round match against France’s Jeremy Chardy REUTERS/Loren Elliott
MELBOURNE – Novak Djokovic got back to doing what he does best on Monday when he steamrollered Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-3 6-1 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena in the opening round of the Australian Open.
Having come through two weeks of quarantine in Adelaide, and a brief but damaging spat with his hosts about the strict isolation conditions placed on competitors in Melbourne, the world number one let his tennis do the talking as he eased to a 297th Grand Slam victory.
Djokovic has won eight of his 17 major titles on Melbourne Park’s main showcourt and, even with a smaller crowd than usual, the Serbian looked very much at home on the distinctive blue surface.
“There’s an ongoing love affair with me and this court,” he said to cheers from the fans.
“I’ve been lucky to have so much success on this court and hopefully it will continue for many years. It makes my heart full to see so many people in the stadium. This is the most people I’ve seen on a tennis court in 12 months. Thank you.”

.@DjokerNole, the floor is yours 💙#AO2021 | #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/SqWLhhQghQ
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) February 8, 2021

Chardy had never taken a set off his opponent in 13 previous matches and with Djokovic landing three quarters of his first serves, the Frenchman was unable to muster a single break point.
With Djokovic finding the corners with his ranging strokes to rattle up 41 winners, Chardy’s small victories were the occasions when he battled back to hold his serve.
Djokovic brought a definitive end to the one-sided contest with back-to-back aces after 91 minutes and will next play American world number 64 Frances Tiafoe in the second round.
The Serbian said he felt he played a “flawless” match.
“Especially on my service games I was very dominant,” he said. “I went very quick through my service games.
“Just overall I think every shot that I executed tonight was really good and on a high level. I’m very pleased with the way I opened up the Australian Open.
“On days like this where you feel very comfortable, of course, you try to relax and do few more other things.”

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การแข่งขัน: รอบที่ 121 - 152 อันดับที่ 152

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 8, 2021 Australia’s Nick Kyrgios during his first round match against Portugal’s Frederico Ferreira Silva REUTERS/Jaimi Joy
MELBOURNE – Nick Kyrgios did his best to create his own atmosphere in a subdued John Cain Arena on Monday as he cruised into the second round of the Australian Open with a 6-4 6-4 6-4 victory over qualifier Frederico Ferreira Silva.
The Australian can usually expect a febrile atmosphere when he plays on his favorite court, but a local coronavirus outbreak and unseasonably cold weather kept many punters away.
Those who did turn up were treated to some vintage Kyrgios moments – a racket thrown across the court, a few choice words toward his box and a few more at the umpire as well as a trademark “tweener”.
Scattered fans in the open air stadium, at best a quarter full, wore puffer jackets and blankets, clearly backing the home favorite with occasional cheers and fist bumps.
“Honestly it was pretty average. I haven’t played a Grand Slam match in over a year. I was very nervous walking out here and I knew I wouldn’t be able to play my best game,” Kyrgios said after the match.
“I was very fortunate that COVID didn’t affect me or my family. I used it as a massive reset and I’m just glad to be back out here.”
Kyrgios, who fronted GQ magazine Australia’s digital cover, is undergoing a rebrand after he put in place new management and looked to reform his bad boy image.
His public support for communities hit hard by Australia’s horrendous bushfires last year endeared him to a wider audience than fans of the game.
Kyrgios certainly played to the local view of top tennis players being divas when he called world number one Novak Djokovic a “tool” when the Serbian, under Australia’s 14-day quarantine, requested houses with tennis courts for players to see out their isolation.
The 25-year-old Australian has always had plenty of tennis talent and the world number 47 had far too much for his Portuguese opponent, who was once a rival in the junior ranks but was making his Grand Slam main draw singles debut.
Kyrgios next plays French 29th seed Ugo Humbert — almost certainly on what he calls the “People’s Court” — as he looks to at least match his run to the quarter-finals here in 2015.

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การแข่งขัน: รอบที่ 121 - 152 อันดับที่ 152

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 8, 2021 Romania’s Simona Halep celebrates winning her first round match against Australia’s Lizette Cabrera REUTERS/Loren Elliott
A fit and firing Simona Halep started her bid for a first Australian Open title with an easy victory over Fil-Australian wildcard Lizette Cabrera on Monday.
The number two seed required strapping and was hampered by a lower back injury in the warm-up Gippsland Trophy, but moved with ease in the 6-2, 6-1 romp in 59 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
“I feel good, my body is fit,” said the Romanian, who hit 14 winners. “It feels great to be back in Melbourne.”
Halep, whose seven-year streak in the top 10 is the longest active run among women, broke serve in the opening game and then overwhelmed 23-year-old Cabrera, who has been unable to win a match at her home Slam in four attempts.
Halep, 29, is seeking a maiden triumph at Melbourne Park having fallen short to Caroline Wozniacki in the 2018 decider.
She was left stunned last year after a straight-sets loss to Garbine Muguruza in the semi-finals.
Halep, a two-time Grand Slam winner, will once again be out to dash Australian hopes when she mets Ajla Tomljanovic in the second round on Wednesday.

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Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 8, 2021 Germany’s Angelique Kerber in action during her first round match against Bernarda Pera of the U.S. REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake
MELBOURNE – Former champion Angelique Kerber made an early exit from the Australian Open on Monday and said spending two weeks in hard quarantine ahead of the Grand Slam had contributed to her first-round loss.
The German former world number one was one of 72 players who were unable to leave their rooms to train during quarantine after passengers on their flights to Melbourne tested positive for COVID-19.
Her opponent Bernarda Pera was not among that cohort and the American ousted the 2016 Australian Open champion 6-0 6-4 in little more than an hour on the first morning of the tournament.
“Of course, you feel it if you are not the hitting ball for two weeks and you are not in the rhythm,” Kerber told reporters after her earliest exit from Melbourne Park for six years.
“I was really trying to staying positive and doing the best out of the two-week situation but you feel it, especially if you play one of the first matches in a Grand Slam … against an opponent who didn’t stay in the hard lockdown.”
Kerber congratulated Australia on its success in containing the new coronavirus and said she had enjoyed playing in front of fans again, however briefly.
The 33-year-old thought, however, that she might have reconsidered the long trip to Australia if she had known she would have to remain locked in her room for 14 days.
“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.”

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การแข่งขัน: รอบที่ 121 - 152 อันดับที่ 152

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 8, 2021 Canada’s Bianca Andreescu in action during her first round match against Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu REUTERS/Jaimi Joy
Former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu cried the night before her much-anticipated return from a year-plus injury and then again burst into tears Monday after a tough victory in the Australian Open.
The eighth seed was forced to save three break points in the seventh game of the deciding set before prevailing 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 against Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu in two hours and two minutes.
She capped her comeback in style with a 27th winner as she wiped away tears to complete an emotional 24 hours for the Canadian.
“Last night I did cry, and I’m not afraid to say that because everyone cries sometimes,” she said.
“But it’s a good release for me because in my head, all I was thinking about were the last 15 months and how tough they were, and they were tough for many reasons.
“It wasn’t necessarily easy, but I got through them.
“I have amazing people around me that help me along the way, and I have to thank them for that because I wouldn’t be able to do it without them.”
Andreescu was set to make her comeback as top seed in the warm-up Grampians Trophy, but pulled out as a precautionary measure after spending 14 days in hard lockdown after arriving in Australia.
She had not played a competitive match since suffering a left knee injury at the WTA Finals in October 2019, halting her rapid rise after a stunning straight-sets victory over Serena Williams in the final at Flushing Meadows that year.
The 20-year-old turned to meditation to help her cope with the long layoff.
“I’ve been doing really well with just staying in the present moment,” she said.
“I think that was a key factor of why I won today.
“To me it’s kind of embedded in myself somehow.
“I was just super happy on the court and grateful to be back.”
Andreescu plays Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan in the second round.

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การแข่งขัน: รอบที่ 121 - 152 อันดับที่ 152

FILE – Germany’s Alexander Zverev reacts as he plays against Italy’s Jannik Sinner during their men’s singles fourth round tennis match on Day 8 of The Roland Garros 2020 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on October 4, 2020. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)
Sixth seed Alexander Zverev mangled a racquet in frustration as he was made to dig deep against Marcos Giron before reaching the Australian Open second round Monday.
The German, a semifinalist last year who is gunning for a maiden Grand Slam title, lost a tight first set against the 73rd-ranked American before grinding to a 6-7 (8/10), 7-6 (7/5), 6-3, 6-2 win.
It was a tougher assignment than expected with Zverev smashing his racquet in anger during the second set before regaining his composure.
“He played incredible. He had me on the ropes, particularly in the second set tie-break,” said Zverev, who is into round two for a fifth straight year.
“I was just happy to get through. Playing the first round of a Grand Slam is never easy. My body felt a little fatigued, I was a little tired.”
He will meet either Japan’s Taro Daniel or American qualifier Maxime Gressy next.
The 23-year-old came into the tournament having beaten world number 12 Denis Shapovalov in the ATP Cup last week while pushing top-ranked Novak Djokovic deep into a third set, before being beaten by fourth-ranked Daniil Medvedev.
He is looking to become the youngest Grand Slam singles champion since Djokovic won the title at Melbourne Park in 2011.

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FILE PHOTO: Tennis – ATP Finals – The O2, London, Britain – November 22, 2020 Austria’s Dominic Thiem reacts during his final match against Russia’s Daniil Medvedev Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
US Open champion Dominic Thiem was given an unexpectedly tough test as he kicked off his bid for a maiden Australian Open title Monday, pressed hard by Kazakh veteran Mikhail Kukushkin before racing to the finish line.
The third-seeded Austrian, a narrow loser to Novak Djokovic in last year’s Melbourne final, came through his match on Rod Laver Arena 7-6 (7/2), 6-2, 6-3, but was made to work for it.
“It’s interesting because it’s the first time I’ve met him and there’s not too many I didn’t meet on tour,” said Thiem of his opponent.
“He’s very experienced and the first set was super-challenging. But, in general, I’m very happy to be back and have success in the first round.”
Kukushkin, 33, had lost his opening-round match at Melbourne on 11 of his previous 12 appearances.
Thiem will next play either German Dominik Keopfer or Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien, with Australia’s Nick Kyrgios looming as a potential third-round opponent.
Now 27, the baseliner finally cracked the big time when he produced a historic comeback to beat Alexander Zverev in the US Open final last year.
He is in Melbourne without his coach Nicolas Massu, who tested positive for the coronavirus, and is instead working under his father, Wolfgang.

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FILE – Empty seats are seen in the background as Venus Williams of the U.S. serves against Slovakia’s Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in the first round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Naomi Osaka said Venus Williams had an “aura” and Serena hailed her ageless sister as “such an inspiration” after the 40-year-old powered into the Australian Open second round Monday.
Williams, who played her first Australian Open in 1998, battled past fellow veteran Kirsten Flipkens 7-5, 6-2 on Margaret Court Arena in her 88th Grand Slam to ensure she lived to fight another day.
World number three Osaka, who also comfortably won, said the seven-time Grand Slam winner had long been a hero and she was amazed at her longevity.
“Ironically I actually interact with Venus more (than Serena),” she said after sweeping past Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 6-2.
“For me, I feel like I do talk about Serena a lot, but Venus is sort of the reason why Serena is where she is.”
“Of course, I always love to pay homage to her,” she added. I feel like whenever I see her, it’s really amazing just to watch how much she loves tennis.
“I see her smiling so much nowadays, so it’s really nice to see. She just has this aura of loving the sport and this infectious energy. I hope that I can learn a lot from her.”
Asked why she still had so much passion for playing tennis, Venus replied: “I like my job. This is Job A.
“I think that no matter what happens to you in life, you always hold your head up high, you give a hundred million percent,” she added.
“That’s what I do every single day. That’s something that I can be proud of.”
Sister Serena, who crushed Germany’s Laura Siegemund 6-1, 6-1 in the first round at Melbourne Park as she aims for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, has spent the past few weeks with Venus as her hitting partner.
“She’s such an inspiration because she never gets frustrated about her situation, health-wise. She’s always looking on the bright side. Then she works so hard. Yeah, she’s been great,” she said.
Williams was diagnosed with Sjogren’s disease in 2011, a condition that leaves her weakened. She took up a vegan diet to stay competitive and combat the illness.
“It was so good to train with her. It was so good every day,” added Serena.
“It’s also very inspiring because she still pushes me on a level that no one’s able to push me, so it was incredibly helpful.”

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การแข่งขัน: รอบที่ 121 - 152 อันดับที่ 152

FILE PHOTO: Tennis – Yarra Valley Classic – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 5, 2021 Serena Williams of the U.S. in action during her quarter final match against Danielle Rose Collins of the U.S. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
An aggressive Serena Williams started her quest Monday for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title by thrashing Laura Siegemund on day one of the Australian Open.
The 39-year-old, playing an unparalleled 100th match at the tournament, looked sharp and smashed 16 winners in the 6-1, 6-1 romp in 56 minutes.
“This was a good start, it was vintage Serena,” she said.
Williams, wearing a striking multi-colored, one-legged catsuit, was broken in the opening game but hit back immediately and kept her foot on the pedal in a one-sided contest.
She showed no ill-effects of a shoulder injury that ruled her out of the semifinals of the warm-up Yarra Valley Classic.
Williams has also been battling a lingering Achilles injury first sustained at last year’s US Open, but has been in strong form so far in Melbourne.
The American, seeded 10th in her 20th Australian Open, needs one more major to equal Margaret Court’s record Grand Slam tally.
She has not added to her glittering collection since beating her sister Venus in the Australian Open final in 2017 when she was pregnant with daughter Olympia.
Williams, the seven-time Australian Open champion, will play Serbia’s Nina Stojanovic in the second round.

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การแข่งขัน: รอบที่ 121 - 152 อันดับที่ 152

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 8, 2021 Japan’s Naomi Osaka in action during her first round match against Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova REUTERS/Loren Elliott
World number three Naomi Osaka started her Australian Open in style Monday with an easy straight-sets victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova as the delayed Grand Slam finally got underway.
The Japanese star faced a potentially tricky first-round contest against the world number 39, but made light work of the Russian 6-1, 6-2 in 68 minutes.
“I was really nervous coming into this match. I just wanted to play well,” Osaka, who hit 18 winners, told a smattering of spectators on Rod Laver Arena.
The 23-year-old, seeded three in Melbourne Park, looked physically strong having withdrawn from the warm-up Gippsland Trophy in the semi-finals, blaming a long-standing shoulder problem.
Osaka, whose flashy attire included leggings and pink shoes, skirt and wristbands, won the first four games and continued the momentum as she relentlessly worked Pavlyuchenkova around the court with powerful groundstrokes.
The three-time Grand Slam winner stretched her streak to 15 matches unbeaten — including the US Open final — dating back 12 months.
Osaka, who won the 2019 Australian Open, plays former top 10 player Caroline Garcia of France or Slovenia’s Polona Hercog in the second round.

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