Despite the country’s current troubles, the 2020 Australian Open kicked off Monday with Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams and Roger Federer headlining the morning session of Day 1 at Rod Laver Arena. And in the evening session, Coco Gauff got the best of Venus Williams again while Novak Djokovic dropped a set in a first-round match for the first time since 2006.
Unsurprisingly, there wasn’t much drama to be had during the tournament’s marquee matchups. The same wasn’t true for some other higher seeds, however.
Gauff dispatches Venus, again
The youngest player in the field, the 15-year-old Gauff again dispatched Williams, the oldest at 39, in the opening match of a Grand Slam. She won 7-6 (5), 6-3 at Margaret Court Arena.
“I mean, my mission is to be the greatest. That’s my goal, to win as many Grand Slams as possible,” Gauff said, via the Associated Press.
“But for today,” Gauff added, “my mission was to win.”
Williams committed 41 of their combined 71 unforced errors and was outdone in her serve. Williams played in a Grand Slam tournament’s main draw for the 85th time, a record in the professional era, per AP.
Djokovic drops set, wins 900th match
Djokovic gave up a set in the opening round of the Australian Open for the first time in 14 years, though he went on to defeat 37th-ranked Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6 (5), 6-2, 2-6, 6-1.
His last dropped set was in 2006 during a loss to Paul Goldstein. The 2019 Australian Open champion addressed the challenge as a positive to the upcoming slate.
“'I actually like tough first rounds — in Grand Slams, particularly,'' he said, via the Associated Press. ''Because it gets me going. From the beginning, I have to be alert. I have to be on a high level. And I think I was.''
Djokovic also gave a nod to Australia and its fans.
Big names cruise
Those hoping to see a massive first-round upset — or even just a dropped set — from Osaka, Williams and Federer came away disappointed.
First, Osaka powered her way to a dominant 6-2, 6-4 win over Marie Bouzková. Williams followed that up with an even more dominant 6-0, 6-3 win over Anastasia Potapova, breaking five of the Russian’s seven serving sets. Federer completed the day with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win over American Steve Johnson.
In the night caps, top-seeded Ash Barty came back from a set down to defeat Lesia Tsurenko 5-7, 6-1, 6-1. Caroline Wozniacki defeated American Kristie Ahn 6-1, 6-3 in her final tournament before retirement. Stefanos Tsitsipas, the 2019 semifinalist who knocked off Federer in the round of 16, advanced with a dominant 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 win over Salvatore Caruso.
Of course, you don’t go to Rod Laver Arena on Day 1 for suspense. That was found on the tournament’s other courts.
Shapovalov exits after argument with ump
The biggest upset of the day came at Margaret Court Arena, where the No. 13 seed, Denis Shapovalov lost his cool as he fell apart against Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics.
After battling to even the match with a second-set tiebreaker win, Shapovalov got crushed in the third set and eventually fell 6-3, 7-6 (9-6), 6-1, 7-6 (7-3). Amid those troubles, he also got a warning from an official after throwing his racket in frustration. From AFP:
"I'm not breaking any rules," he shouted at the official. "It's my racquet I can do whatever the hell I want with it."
"What are you talking about, I didn't break it," he added.
"If I broke it, give me a code, 100 percent. I didn't break my racquet. It was a terrible call, do your job."
Maybe next year for the 20-year-old. No. 25 seed Borna Corcic also fell to American Sam Querrey in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
Rain causes suspensions
Not every match was able to finish in time to avoid the heavy rain that hit Melbourne in the afternoon, forcing a number of matches to be suspended and further complicating a schedule that was already dealing with the effects of qualifiers delayed by Australia’s bushfires.
Men’s No. 9 seed Roberto Bautista Agut, No. 12 Fabio Fognini and women’s No. 18 Alison Riske were among those to see their matches suspended.
For Fognini, the delay was likely a welcome development, considering the Italian was getting soundly beaten by Reilly Opelka, currently by a score of 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 1-0.
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