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Battling Murray crashes out at first hurdle; Federer, Nadal fight on

January 15, 2019

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MELBOURNE: Britain’s Andy Murray waves to the crowd after losing the Australian Open first-round match to Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain on Monday.—Reuters
MELBOURNE: Britain’s Andy Murray waves to the crowd after losing the Australian Open first-round match to Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain on Monday.—Reuters

MELBOURNE: A battling Andy Murray bowed out of the Australian Open at the first hurdle on Monday, but it was business as usual for ruthless Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal who joined Caroline Wozniacki in round two.

The Scottish five-time Melbourne Park finalist gave it everything he had and showed glimpses of the form that won him three Grand Slams, but his ailing body let him down during a gutsy 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-7 (4-7) defeat to 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut.

Murray tearfully revealed before the tournament that he was in constant agony from a hip injury and planned to retire this year.

The 31-year-old hopes to end his career at Wimbledon, but has admitted the Australian Open could be his last event, unless he has a late change of heart.

“That was incredible, thank you so, so much to everyone that came out tonight,” he said after being given a rapturous send-off.

While his tournament ended in despair, Swiss master Federer, six years older than Murray, continued his march towards a record seventh Australian Open title.

The world No.3 swept past Uzbek Denis Istomin 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 said he was in ‘disbelief’ that he was the double defending champion at his age and vowed to give his all to make it three in a row. His long-time rival and the 2009 champion Nadal, who cut short his 2018 season to have surgery on a foot injury, showed no mercy to Australian wildcard James Duckworth in his opening round clash.

The 17-time Grand Slam winner cruised through 6-4, 6-3, 7-5. The second seed is bidding to become the first man in the Open era, and only the third in history along with Roy Emerson and Rod Laver, to win each Grand Slam on two or more occasions.

Fifth seed Kevin Anderson progressed, as did NextGen Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas. But ninth seed John Isner became the first top seed to crash out.

World No.3 Wozniacki, who made her Grand Slam breakthrough in Melbourne last year, opened her defence with a convincing 6-3, 6-4 win over Belgium’s Alison van Uytvanck.

Second seed and 2016 champion Angelique Kerber was also impressive, breezing past Slovenia’s Polona Hercog 6-2, 6-2.

Maria Sharapova, a winner at Melbourne in 2008, signalled her intent with a rare 6-0, 6-0 double bagel demolition of Britain’s Harriet Dart.

Playing in her 15th Australian Open, the three-time finalist was pleased to go through so easily as she battles back from injuries.

Fifth seeded Sloane Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion who struggled in her warm-up tournaments in Brisbane and Sydney, got back to business with an easy two-set win against fellow American Taylor Townsend.

Eleventh seed Aryna Sabalenka, widely tipped as a potential future champion, also safely negotiated round one on a hot day. But Germany’s 14th seed Julia Goerges was knocked out, as was former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Britain’s Katie Boulter, meanwhile, created a slice of history by becoming the first woman to win in a third set tiebreak — a new rule introduced to the Open this year, beating Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (10-6).

Monday’s results (prefix number denotes seeds):

Men’s singles:

First round: Mackenzie McDonald (US) bt Andrey Rublev (Russia) 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4; Radu Albot (Moldova) bt Michael Mmoh (US) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2; 26-Fernando Verdasco (Spain) bt Miomir Kecmanovic (Serbia) 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 6-3; John Millman (Australia) bt Federico Del Bonis (Argentina) 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2; Yoshihito Nishioka (Japan) bt Tennys Sandgren (US) 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-4; 10-Karen Khachanov (Russia) bt Peter Gojowczyk (Germany) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3; 14-Stefanos Tsitsipas (Greece) bt Matteo Berrettini (Italy) 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4); Viktor Troicki (Serbia) bt Roberto Carballes (Spain) 6-1, 1-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4; Stefano Travaglia (Italy) bt Guido Andreozzi (Argentina) 6-7 (3-7), 6-2, 6-3, 6-2; 19-Nikoloz Basilashvili (Georgia) bt Christopher Eubanks (US) 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-3; 30-Gael Monfils (France) bt Damir Dzumhur (Bosnia and Herzegovina) 6-0, 6-4, 6-0; Taylor Fritz (US) bt Cameron Norrie (Great Britain) 6-3, 7-6 (8-6), 6-2; Daniel Evans (Great Britain) bt Tatsuma Ito (Japan) 7-5, 6-1, 7-6 (10-8); 5-Kevin Anderson (South Africa) bt Adrian Mannarino (France) 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 Frances Tiafoe (US) bt Prajnesh Gunneswaran (India) 7-6 (9-7), 6-3, 6-3; Jordan Thompson (Australia) bt Feliciano Lopez (Spain) 6-1, 7-6 (7-0), 6-3; Andreas Seppi (Italy) bt 31-Steve Johnson (US) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3; 20-Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgaria) bt Janko Tipsarevic (Serbia) 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-4; Pablo Cuevas (Uruguay) bt Dusan Lajovic (Serbia) 6-4, 7-5, 6-1; Thomas Fabbiano (Italy) bt Jason Kubler (Australia) 6-4, 7-6 (7-1), 2-6, 6-3; Reilly Opelka (US) bt 9-John Isner (US) 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (8-6), 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-5); Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic) bt 13-Kyle Edmund (Great Britain) 6-3, 6-0, 7-5; Robin Haase (Netherlands) bt Guillermo Garc1a-Lopez (Spain) 7-5, 6-4, 7-5; Denis Kudla (US) bt Marc Polmans (Australia) 5-7, 1-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2; 18-Diego Schwartzman (Argentina) bt Rudolf Molleker (Germany) 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0; 27-Alex De Minaur (Australia) bt Pedro Sousa (Portugal) 6-4, 7-5, 6-4; Henri Laaksonen (Switzerland) bt Mirza Basic (Bosnia and Herzegovina) 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-3; Matthew Ebden (Australia) bt Jan-Lennard Struff (Germany) 1-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4; 2-Rafael Nadal (Spain) bt James Duckworth 6-4, 6-3, 7-5; 22-Roberto Bautista (Spain) bt Andy Murray (Great Britain) 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-7 (4-7), 6-2; 3-Roger Federer (Switzerland) bt Denis Istomin (Uzbekistan) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4; 6-Marin Cilic (Croatia) bt Bernard Tomic (Australia) 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3).

Women’s singles:

First round: Irina Begu (Romania) bt Andrea Petkovic (Germany) 6-7 (3-7), 4-3 — Petkovic retired; Belinda Bencic (Switzerland) bt Katerina Siniakova (Czech Republic) 6-4, 2-6, 6-3; Yulia Putintseva (Kazakhstan) bt 32-Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (Czech Republic) 6-4, 7-6 (7-1); 24-Lesya Tsurenko (Ukraine) bt Ekaterina Alexandrova (Russia) 6-4, 7-6 (7-4); Amanda Anisimova (US) bt Monica Niculescu (Romania) 7-6 (7-3), 6-4; Katie Boulter (Great Britain) bt Ekaterina Makarova (Russia) 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (10-6); 11-Aryna Sabalenka (Belarus) bt Anna Kalinskaya (Russia) 6-1, 6-4; 25-Ashleigh Barty (Australia) bt Luksika Kumkhum (Thailand) 6-2, 6-2; Wang Yafan (China) bt Ellen Perez (Australia) 6-4, 6-0; Astra Sharma (Australia) bt Priscilla Hon (Australia) 7-5, 4-6, 6-1; Maria Sakkari (Greece) bt 22-Jelena Ostapenko (Latvia) 6-1, 3-6, 6-2; 30-Maria Sharapova (Russia) bt Harriet Dart (Great Britain) 6-0, 6-0; Rebecca Peterson (Sweden) bt Sorana Cirstea (Romania) 6-4, 6-1; Johanna Larsson (Sweden) bt Vera Lapko (Belarus) 7-6 (7-5), 3-0 — Lapko retired; 3-Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) bt Alison Van Uytvanck (Belgium) 6-3, 6-4; 5-Sloane Stephens (US) bt Taylor Townsend (US) 6-4, 6-2; Timea Babos (Hungary) bt Ons Jabeur (Tunisia) 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-3); Marketa Vondrousova (Czech Republic) bt Evgeniya Rodina (Russia) 6-3, 6-2; 31-Petra Martic (Croatia) bt Heather Watson (Great Britain) 6-1, 6-2; 20-Anett Kontaveit (Estonia) bt Sara Sorribes (Spain) 6-3, 6-2; Aliaksandra Sasnovich (Belarus) bt Kirsten Flipkens (Belgium) 6-1, 6-1; Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia) bt Monica Puig (Puerto Rico) 6-4, 6-3; 9-Kiki Bertens (Netherlands) bt Alison Riske (US) 6-3, 6-3; Danielle Collins (US) bt 14-Julia Georges (Germany) 2-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4; Sachia Vickery (US) bt Ysaline Bonaventure (Belgium) 2-6, 6-4, 6-4; Zoe Hives (Australia) bt Bethanie Mattek-Sands (US) 6-1, 6-2; 19-Caroline Garcia (France) bt Jessika Ponchet (France) 6-2, 6-3; 29-Donna Vekic (Croatia) bt Kristina Mladenovic (France) 6-2, 6-4; Kimberly Birrell (Australia) bt Paula Badosa (Spain) 6-4, 6-2; Beatriz Haddad Maia (Brazil) bt Bernarda Pera (US) 6-3, 5-7, 6-4; 2-Angelique Kerber (Germany) bt Polona Hercog (Slovenia 6-2, 6-2; 8-Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) bt Magdalena Rybarikova (Slovakia) 6-3, 6-2.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2019