Day two of the Australian Open saw the conclusion of the first round of singles matches in Melbourne. Whilst there were some that impressed, others disappointed. News also broke out of a potential boycott of next year’s competition (with Novak Djokovic playing ring leader) due to player’s pay. Here are my top matches from a busy second day of action.
Johanna Konta bt. Madison Brengle (6-3 6-1)
Australia proves to still be a happy hunting ground for Konta after she comfortably overcame American Brengle in straight sets.
The 26-year-old, who was born and raised in and around Sydney before moving to the UK, put in a good opening performance but not a perfect one. She hit eight aces and 37 winners on the way to victory and was hardly threatened by the world number 90 – who was the last woman to beat Serena Williams in a competitive match before she went on maternity leave.
However, the Brit hit 34 unforced errors, 18 more than Brengle, and scampered three match points before finally sealing the win with her fourth. Given the match situation it didn’t prove to be a massive issue, but moving forward Konta will need to be more precise and ruthless, especially around the net.
The ninth seed needed time to find her groove, but once she did she took complete control. Konta moved a double-break up in the first set to lead 5-2. The American broke back instantly but it was too little to late.
An early break saw Konta take a 3-1 lead in the second set and from there she turned on the afterburners and hurried to the finish.
Roger Federer bt. Aljaz Bedene (6-3 6-4 6-3)
Defending champion and tournament favourite Federer made a solid start to his campaign with a straight sets victory over former Brit Bedene.
Bedene switched his allegiance back to Slovenia ahead of the new season, but he was no match for the Swiss, who is seeking his sixth Australian Open and 20th Grand Slam title.
Federer only dropped three points on serve in the first set and hit 41 winners in what was a commanding performance. The 36-year-old has not been knocked out in the first round of a Grand Slam since 2003 and judging by this performance he won’t be packing his bags anytime soon.
Novak Djokovic bt. Donald Young (6-1 6-2 6-4)
It was a comfortable return to competitive tennis for the 30-year-old Serbian as he brushed Young aside in straight sets.
The number 14 seed was playing for the first time since Wimbledon and played with a cast over his elbow, which didn’t seem to affect his playing style.
Djokovic dropped serve just once throughout and won 11 of the first 12 games to establish a lead he was never going to relinquish.
The Serbian also reacted to reports he had called for a boycott of next year’s Australian Open in a feud regarding player’s revenue.
The Daily Mail claimed that Djokovic had asked all officials to leave the players’ meeting, and that the Serb was accompanied by a lawyer to make the case for setting up a players-only union. (See the article here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/tennis/article-5268709/Novak-Djokovic-career-earnings-82m-wants-more.html)
The 12-time Grand Slam champion denied the claim and rejected the notion that he was ‘greedy’.
Maria Sharapova bt. Tatjana Maria (6-1 6-4)
The five-time Grand Slam champion made a victorious return in what was her first appearance in the Australian Open since her drug ban.
The Russian was suspended for 15 months back in 2016, and struggle at times against the world number 47 on the Margaret Court Arena.
Sharapova hit 28 unforced errors and found herself a break down in the second, but recovered to claim a morale-boosting win.
Lukas Lacko bt. Milos Raonic (6-7 7-5 6-4 7-6)
Former Wimbledon finalist Raonic has been shown the exit door after crashing out to unseeded Slovakian Lacko.
The Canadian was playing for the first time after a injury-hit second half of 2017, and a lack of match fitness ultimately caught up with him.
Lacko, who is ranked 86th in the world, has always performed at his best in Melbourne, having got as far as the third round on two previous occasions. But to have knocked out 22nd seed Raonic is a big scalp for the 30-year-old.
Other selected results
Zverev (4) bt. Fabbiano (6-1 7-6 7-5)
Thiem (5) bt. Pella (6-4 6-4 6-4)
Goffin (7) bt. Bachinger (6-7 6-3 6-2 6-4)
Wawrinka (9) bt. Berankis (6-3 6-4 2-6 7-6)
Del Potro (12) bt. Tiafoe (6-3 6-4 6-3)
Berdych (19) bt. De Minaur (6-3 3-6 6-0 6-1)
Halep (1) bt. Aiava (7-6 6-1)
Muguruza (3) bt. Ponchet (6-4 6-3)
Pliskova (6) bt. Cepede Royg (6-3 6-4)
Garcia (8) bt. Witthoeft (7-5 6-3)
Barty (18) bt. Sabalenka (6-7 6-4 6-4)
Putintseva bt. Watson (7-5 7-6)