Tennis  

Federer, Djokovic, Serena advance, Venus out

Serena Williams of the US hits a return against Russia’s Anastasia Potapova during their women’s singles match on day one of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 20, 2020. William WEST / AFP

Roger Federer began his quest for a seventh title with a convincing 6/3; 6/2; 6/2 victory over American Steve Johnson. The battle lasted just 81 minutes in Rod Laver Arena where eight-seeded Serena Williams dismissed Russia’s Anastasia Potapova 6/0; 6/3 in just under an hour.

However, 38-year old Venus Williams lost 7/6 (5); 6/3 to the youthful power of 15-year old Coco Gauff.

World number 2 Novak Djokovic did not have an easy opening round in his match against German Jan-Lennard Struff. The Serb won a closely contested first set tie break by 7 points to 5 and took the second 6/2.

After Struff broke Novak twice to win the third set 6/2, he got only one game in the fourth, losing 6/1. In a battle of serves, Novak registered 14 aces and Lennard made 13.
Canadian number one player, Denis Shapovalov became the first seed to fall on opening day.

The thirteenth seed and next generation title hopeful lost to Marton Fucsovics of Hungary, 6/3; 6/7(7); 6/1; 7/6(3). In the third set tie break, Denis suffered an early mini-break and banged his racket on court surface. He was given a code violation to which he ranted at the Chair Umpire.

In the fourth set, the Canadian led 4-2 but got leveled and in the ensuing a tie break, the Hungarian led 6 points to 2. At match point, an unforced error from Denis sealed the upset loss. The result would have been different if the Canadian had converted more than just one of the seven opportunities he had to break his opponent’s serve.

Egypt’s Mohammed Safwat lost to Frenchman Gregoire Berrere, 6/7 (8); 7/6 (1); 6/4; 7/6(5) with only a margin of 3 games separating the two players. Mohammed had won two matches in the grueling weather to qualify for the main draw while Gregoire was fresh in his first match in Melbourne.

The Venus match with Coco was a repeat of their first round encounter at the 2019 Wimbledon championships. A Single break of serve gave Coco the opportunity to serve for the first set but Venus broke back to level and the set was decided in a tie break ending 7 points to 5. Ranked 66 in the world, Coco expressed surprise at the crowd support.

“You guys were chanting my name. I thought that would only happen at the US Open; now in Australia, that was amazing.” In the second round Coco would face Romania’s Sorana Cirstea who is ranked 74 in the world.

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