Australian Open defending champion Sofia Kenin got her grand slam campaign off to a nervous start against Australian Madison Inglis on Tuesday afternoon.
And although the scoreline suggests a different story, with Kenin winning in straight sets, 7-5 6-4, 23-year-old Inglis caused some real issues for the world No.4.
Returning to the Rod Laver Arena for the first time since her win last year, the pressure was on the American to perform, and she admitted there were “Some nerves coming in.”
“I’m sure everyone saw that. But, yeah, it’s obviously nice to get the win. I obviously love the court, have great memories. It was a little bit emotional,” Kenin said after the match.Embed from Getty Images
Inglis went on the offensive early, taking advantage of a slow to start Kenin to break first and gain an early 3-1 lead.
But the American soon found her feet and pulled two breaks back to claim the first set.
“[Inglis] played really well,” Kenin said. “She’s a tricky opponent, tricky player. Yeah, it was quite hard on myself today.“
And the Australian continued to ask questions of the grand slam champion in the second set, trading breakpoints with Kenin, forcing her to make 27 unforced errors during the match that included a double-fault on a match point.Embed from Getty Images
But Sofia Kenin stood firm to Inglis’ advances and closed out the match. She will now face off against Gippsland Classic finalist Kaia Kanepi, who defeated Anastasija Sevastova in straight sets earlier today.
Meanwhile, 2020 Australian Open runner-up Garbine Muguruza looked unstoppable in her demolition of Russian Margarita Gasparyan, dropping just four games during the match and only three points on serve in the second set to win 6-4 6-0.
Although it was a tough start for the world No.14.Embed from Getty Images
Trading breaks early in the first set, Gasparyan came back from going 3-1 down to draw level with her opponent. But at 3-3, Muguruza found her rhythm, breaking her opponent again and motored on to win nine of the next ten games.
“The first set was a tough battle, and I was happy that I could close it at 5-4,” Muguruza said after the match. “In the second set, I took the lead a little bit early and played well with my serve. I was more dominating with the second one.“
Next-Gen Stars Impress Down Under
Muguruza’s compatriot, Carlos Alcaraz also powered his way into the second round hitting 26 winners past Botic Van De Zandschulp to win 6-1 6-4 6-4.
17-year-old Alcaraz is now the youngest player to win an Australian Open main draw match since Thanasi Kokkinakis defeated Igor Sijsling in 2014 at 18-years-old.
But it was a very cool performance from the young Spaniard, who hit 21 fewer errors than his Dutch opponent and outplayed his opponent against his serve to win what is also his first competitive five-set match.Embed from Getty Images
16-year-old Cori Gauff also impressed on court today too, defeating Jil Belen Teichmann for the second time in two weeks.
After needing a third set tiebreak to claim her win last week, Gauff made light work of her Swiss opponent today winning 6-3 6-3.
Winning 87 per cent of points on her first service, while smashing eight aces past Teichmann, Gauff was in flying form today and will advance to play fifth seed Elina Svitolina in the second round of the tournament.
Medvedev just keeps on winning
Coming into the grand slam after winning back-to-back trophies, Daniil Medvedev showed why he is a huge challenger for the men’s singles championship this year as he extended his winning streak to 15 games on the bounce, demolishing former world No.25 Vasek Pospisil 2-6 2-6 4-6.
Having won the ATP Nitto Finals back in November and winning the ATP Cup with Russia last week, the world No.4 could hardly put a foot wrong today, incurring only 13 errors as he clinically defeated his Canadian opponent just in just one hour and fifty minutes.
“Vasek can play really good tennis,” Medvedev said. “He just told me after the match he wasn’t able to have the best preparation because of hard quarantine, and he also hurt his back for a few days… I was lucky in this way, but I knew I had to go out here and win this match, because it’s my job.”
As if his active 15-match winning streak wasn't scary enough already, Daniil Medvedev has perfect recollection of each of his last 15 victims pic.twitter.com/4L3nyjHq3E— Bastien Fachan (@BastienFachan) February 9, 2021
A British affair
After his triumph at the Murray River Open on Sunday, Dan Evans was defeated by fellow Englishman Cameron Norrie 4-6 6-4 4-6 5-7.
In a nail-biting match that came down to a fourth set thriller, Norrie was able to secure a last-minute double break and hold serve against a fatigued Evans, who asked a few tough questions of his old rival earlier in the set.Embed from Getty Images
“It is bittersweet really,” said Evans, who has played five matches in the last five days. “I want to do well in Grand Slams and, with due respect to that warm-up tournament, no-one will remember I won that in three weeks’ time.“
Meanwhile, 13th seed Johanna Conta said she was left in “shock” after being forced to retire from her match against Kaja Juvan despite winning the opening set.
“I pulled my ab, and that made it difficult for me to serve,” Konta said after the match.
“I was starting to be aware of it, and in the second-to-last service game of the first set, it got quite painful.“
Serving for the first set vs Kaja Juvan, Johanna Konta misses a smash at 5-4, 15-0, goes to her chair and calls the trainer.— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) February 9, 2021
They've headed off court for an MTO. 'I need to get this taken care of, otherwise I can't play,' Konta said. pic.twitter.com/ROffXWHv2Y
That leaves Heather Watson as the last British Female in the tournament after Francesca Jones was knocked out of the tournament by Shelby Rogers earlier today.
Watson will advance to the second round to play 21 seed Annett Kontaveit after she beat Kristýna Plíšková 7-6(4) 7-6(3).
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