By Britwatch Team
- Kyle Edmund loses five-setter to Damir Dzumhur 1-6 7-6(4) 4-6 6-3 6-1
- Timea Babos defeated Heather Watson 6-7(4) 7-5 7-5
- Defending champions Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams get off to winning starts
- Early seeded casualties include Sloane Stephens and Caroline Wozniacki
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Kyle Edmund found himself on the end of another five-set heartbreaker, and Heather Watson lost a heartbreaker of a decider, as we recap day one of the 2016 Australian Open.
Britwatch Tennis: Full Draws and Schedules
Edmund started out very promisingly, ripping through the first set in just 26 minutes, but dropped his opening serve at the start of the second set. The pair would trade breaks a couple of times in a more competitive second set, and the Bosnian took the edge in the tie-break.
Edmund, who had trained in the extreme heat earlier in the week called for a medical time-out in the third set, but managed to close that out for a 2-1 lead, but his pace and speed were clearly hampered from that moment on, and Dzumhur capitalised by making him run and leaving him coming up short.
Once he had been broken in the decider, after battling to save four break points, the fifth was seemingly the point that broke the camel’s back, and he would lose two more serves to bow out of the Australian Open.
Baffled when talking to press, he admitted that it had been disappointing that once more it was his body that had let him down, and not his tennis. The frustrating thing for the British No. 3 is that he has been training at a high intensity, in hot conditions, but again when it comes to the crunch of a five-set match, he still has a way to go to physically go the distance.
Watson also started out promisingly jumping out to a 3-0 lead over Timea Babos, before the pair settled down to a real battle of wills. The Hungarian reclaimed the break and fought off a set point from Watson to force a first set tie-break. Keeping her composure in the tight moments, in a highly charged match, Watson sealed the first set.
Breaking to serve for the match, Watson struggled as the Hungarian pushed and ultimately broke back, breaking straight away to force a decider.
The momentum switched from side to side in the decider, first with Babos breaking twice to nudge ahead and twice pegged back for Watson to stay in touching distance. Watson had to hang on to her service once more to hold on to the match but was agonizingly edged out with a single match point.
She admitted that she had suffered an abdominal strain during her match against Daria Gavrilova at the Hopman Cup and would rest it before continuing with the doubles here in Melbourne.
Defending champions Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams both had potentially tricky starts to their campaigns. Djokovic faced the 2015 ATP Most Improved Player Hyeon Chung who even had the cheek to break (back) the World No. 1 before normal service was resumed and Djokovic progressed with ease.
He said: “Having to play somebody for the first time, especially somebody that is as young as him, he’s only 19, you know, it can be tricky. Obviously getting out on the court and playing against a player that has nothing to lose.
“He’s one of the players that people are talking about as a potential top player in the future. He’s got that potential, no question about it. As I said on the court, he needs experience, he needs more time.”
There had been concern as to just how ready Williams really was. Despite saying she was ‘120-130%’ there was still a worry that a slow start at the hands of a feisty player like Camila Giorgi would result in a tournament shocker.
We needn’t have worried. Despite having trouble with the sun on a very warm day in Melbourne, Williams broke the Italian twice, before surrendering one of the breaks in a competitive match.
Giorgi came into her own holding on her serve at the start of the second set, saving four break points along the way, but at the end of the set Williams broke for a 6-5 lead, serving out to love to get a tricky start out of the way.
Giving herself an A for effort, she surmised: “I have played her a couple of times before, and just wanted to be as consistent as I could. she definitely doesn’t really give you a lot of rhythm, so it’s definitely a different match.”
The top quarter of the women’s draw was effectively blown apart with the loss of Sara Errani  and Caroline Wozniacki  and Williams has an unseeded run now to at least the quarter-finals.
Elsewhere, 2014 semi-finalist and winner in Auckland, Sloane Stephens also joined the seed casualty list at the hands of qualifier Wang Qiang, who incidentally bounced Shenzhen fifth seed and British No. 1 Johanna Konta out of the tournament in her season opener.
On the men’s side, Ivo Karlovic  retired two sets down, and Benoit Paire declared his match against wildcard and World No. 328 Noah Rubin a ‘catastrophe’ as he too exited in the opening round.
Play continues on Tuesday at 11am (Midnight GMT).
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