By Ros Satar
- Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep progress
- Maria Sharapova faces a mighty fall down the rankings with her first round loss
- Oh Canada – the young stars stumble Down Under
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – On a day which saw 96 matches cut down with eight more postponed, the somewhat lopsided schedule saw big names soar, tumble and fall.
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After Roger Federer sailed majestically and Novak Djokovic hit just a tiny bit of bumpy water, Rafael Nadal did his usual thing as he swept aside his lower ranked opposition to advance into the second round.
On the women’s side Karolina Pliskova set down a fair effective marker against what could have been a tricky opponent in Kiki Mladenovic, and Simona Halep continued her traditional tumbling head over heels somewhere in her first round match, this time hurting her wrist, before overcoming the potentially tricky Jennifer Brady.
There was even a win for Alexander Zverev. He looked in pretty solid form, considering his stint at the ATP Cup was still in his off-season phase, where he was also still adjusting to the effects of eye surgery. All seemed to be coming together as he breezed through his first match.
Daniil Medvedev drew an entertaining performance out of the always engaging Frances Tiafoe but ultimately the American will face a slide down the rankings as he was prevented from even coming close to matching his semi-final run of last year, which captivated everyone.
The main one of course was Maria Sharapova. It was a tough draw to Donna Vekic, who for some time has been making a claim as being a one to watch, but the former champion has long since been anywhere near the kind of form to make a meaningful run at a Slam.
She said in her post match press conference, when asked what the future holds: “I don’t know. I was fortunate to get myself to be here and thankfully to Craig [Tiley] and the team allowing me to be part of this event. It’s tough for me to tell what’s going to happen in 12 months’ time.”
One thing if for sure – with a projected tumble down the rankings to see her outside the Top 350, her choices may be limited outside of tournament wildcards.
The Canadian young guns have had a rough ride. First Bianca Andreescu withdrew before the whole shebang, and the young guys (Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime) who double-handedly made it to the Davis Cup Finals championship match, and did the double representing their country in the ATP Cup suddenly unravelled while grandad Milos Raonic is the only one to have progressed. Auger-Aliassime was unlucky enough to meet the unpredictable Ernests Gulbis, who had to qualify to make the main draw, as he showed the youngster he still had a trick or two to offer.
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Nick Kyrgios continues to be moved by the plight of his fellow countrymen in the bush-fire crisis, and was rendered speechless when John McEnroe offered $1000 for each set the Aussie wins from now on.
96 matches was just a little too much – after banging the drum of hyperbole loud and proud, Tennis Australia had to admit defeat on Tuesday and can eight singles matches and at the time of writing, at around 1:30am in Melbourne there were still two matches to go (of course both fittingly in fifth set tie-breaks.
88th win of the day
Kevin Anderson d. [Q] Ilya Ivashka 6-4 2-6 4-6 6-4 7-6(10-8)
88 down, we done.
— Diego Barbiani (@Diego_Barbiani) January 21, 2020
Play continues on Day Three of the Australian Open at 11am (Midnight GMT).
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