On the inaugural day that saw Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Maria Sharapova sail comfortably into the second round, 10 seeded players; 2 men and 8 women made their exit from the 103rd edition of the Australian Open. Year 2015’s first Grand Slam also opened with great news for the locals as Australian tennis stars yielded impressive performances in their matches. All the 16 hard courts of the huge Melbourne Park tennis arena have Plexicushion surfaces and three of them are designated as show courts named after celebrities. The Park already had the Rod Laver and Hisense Arena and this year the new Margaret Court Arena has been added. Like the existing two show courts, the Margaret Court has also been designed with fully operational retractable roof to make the Australian Open the first Grand Slam tournament with three such tennis stadiums. Australians, who stole the show on the opening day were; Bernard Tomic, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Sam Groth and Nick Kyrgios all through to the second round. While there were an awful lot of upsets in the women’s singles, with eight seeds losing in first round, two men’s seeds, Latvian Earnests Gulbis and Tommy Robredo of Spain were also done in. But first day’s biggest shock was reserved for Serbian eighth-seeded woman Ana Ivanovic, who lost to the Czech qualifier Lucie Hradecka in three sets. Other women seeds, who suffered first-day loss were; 9th seeded German Angelique Kerber; 16th seeded Czech Lucie Safarova; 17th seeded Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro; 23rd and 27th seeded Russians Anastasia Pavlychenkova and Svetlana Kuznetsova, 28th seeded German Sabine Lisicki and 32nd seeded Canadian Belinda Bencic.
Among such upsets, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Tomas Berdych, Grigor Dimitrov, Andy Murray, Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep had easy first round victories. Federer scored his 1001st career win by beating Taiwanese world no.47 Yen-Hsun Lu 6-4, 6-2, 7-5. Aiming for his 18th Grand Slam, Federer served nine aces and won 86% of his first-serve points to finish the match in an hour and 53 minutes. Nadal was a picture of confidence in disposing off the Russian Mikhail Youzhny 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in less than two hours. Czech 7th seed Tomas Berdych defeated Colombian Alejandro Falla 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 and Bulgarian star Grigor Dimitrov looked ominous in outclassing Germany’s Dustin Brown 6-2, 6-3, 6-2. Having an Australian coach was enough for the crowd rooting for Dimitrov. Sixth seeded Andy Murray made a good start with a straight-sets victory over India’s Yuki Bhambri. The Indian posed some problems for Murray in the third set, when he raced to a 4-1 lead but the Briton recovered to take the set to the tie-break before wrapping up the match. In other men’s singles matches, South Africa’s 14th seed Kevin Anderson defeated Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman 7-6, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 and 29th seed Jeremy Chardy of France finished a spirited challenge from 18-year old Croatian Borna Coric 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-4.
Among women, second seeded Maria Sharapova easily beat Croatian qualifier Petra Martic 6-4, 6-1; Romanian Simona Halep beat Italian Karin Knapp 6-3, 6-2; Eugenie Bouchard of Canada won against Germany’s Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-2, 6-4. But there were heartbreaks for several seeded players. The worst fate beckoned Serbian 5th seed Ana Ivanovic, who surprisingly lost to the Czech qualifier Lucie Hradecka 1–6, 6–3, 6–2. Other notable player, who made her exit, was 9th seeded German Angelique Kerber, who lost 4-6, 6-0, 1-6 to Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania. Joining these two on the exit-line on day 1 were; double Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova, former Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki, 16th seed Lucie Safarova, Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic,Spain’s Carla Suarez-Navarro and Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Australian fans had a lot to cheer as their heroes; Bernard Tomic, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Sam Groth and Nick Kyrgios eased into the second rounds. 22-year old Bernard Tomic had the entire arena on his side as he beat Germany’s Tobias Kamke 7–5, 6–7, 6–3, 6–2. Nick Krygos, whose fame is associated with beating Nadal at Wimbledon, took 5 sets in defeating Federico Delbonis 7-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-7, 6-3. While Sam Groth had a rather easy victory over Filip Krajinovic, the best action came from the 18-year old Thanasi Kokkinakis, who saved four match points before overcoming the 11th seed Latvian Ernests Gulbis 5-7, 6-0, 1-6, 7-6, 8-6. Unfortunately, the tournament draw has Groth and Kokkinakis meeting in the second round and that will send one of the two out of contention at Melbourne Park.