Underway at Australian Open: Naomi Osaka easily wins opening match

Getty Images
0 Comments

MELBOURNE, Australia — Three-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka took the court on the first morning at the Australian Open and quickly moved into the second round Monday.

Osaka, who won the title in Melbourne two years ago, played the opening match in Rod Laver Arena and beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 6-2.

The first tournament of this year’s Grand Slam season began after a three-week delay because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Physically I feel like everyone, their bodies are shocked, coming in and playing so suddenly after such a long break,” Osaka said. “I think we’re all getting used to it and everyone is just happy to be here.”

Osaka drew a potential tough opening opponent in Pavlyuchenkova, a Russian ranked 39th who reached the quarterfinals in Melbourne three of the past four years.

But Osaka breezed through the first set in 21 minutes and barely slowed after that. She finished with more winners than errors and lost only five points on her first serve.

Up to 30,000 fans – about 50% of capacity — will be allowed on the tournament site, but seats were mostly empty for the start of play on a cool morning.

“I’m just really happy to see people in the stands,” Osaka said.

Osaka is among five former Australian Open champions in the women’s draw. She has won 15 consecutive matches, including the U.S. Open final in September, since her most recent loss in a Fed Cup match a year ago.

Seven other women’s Grand Slam singles champions were also scheduled to play on the opening day, including Serena Williams, who is beginning her latest bid for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title.

Giron cruises in 3rd set, beats Rybakov at Dallas Open

2023 Australian Open - Day 1
Getty Images
1 Comment

DALLAS – Marcos Giron advanced to the second round of the Dallas Open with a 6-4, 6-7 (1), 6-1 victory over Alex Rybakov on Tuesday.

The seventh-seeded Giron, who reached the semifinals of the inaugural event a year ago, responded quickly after failing to close out the second set, winning the first five games of the deciding set.

Rybakov broke his fellow American when Giron was serving for the match in the second set. Then Rybakov won the first six points of the second-set tiebreaker.

“I’m really happy with how I was able to reset in the third and just get back to the game plan from the beginning and elevate,” Giron said. “He played well and served well and kind of hung in there.”

Eighth-seeded Adrian Mannarino of France won the final five points of a first-set tiebreaker and the last four games of the second to beat American Steve Johnson 7-6 (6), 6-2.

J.J. Wolf, the No. 6 seed, had little trouble in a 6-3, 6-3 victory over fellow American Brandon Holt.

John Isner, the fifth seed and unofficial tournament host in his hometown event, played later Tuesday. Like Giron, Isner lost in the semifinals last year.

Sock wins at Dallas Open, set to face top-seeded Fritz

Getty Images
3 Comments

DALLAS – Wild-card entry Jack Sock opened with a 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-4 victory over Ilya Ivashka at the Dallas Open, setting up a second-round meeting with top-seeded fellow American Taylor Fritz.

Sock broke Ivashka’s serve in the final game to win the match. Ivashka fell behind 2-0 to start the final set but broke Sock to get back on serve.

Down a break early in the second set, Ivashka rallied to force the deciding set after Sock cruised in the first-set tiebreaker.

The eighth-ranked Fritz is back for the second Dallas Open after losing in the semifinals as the top seed in the inaugural edition of the indoor hard-court event last year. Defending champion Reilly Opelka isn’t in the field.