Federer makes welcome return
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The big draws for the opening day f the Australian Open were undoubtedly Sir Andy Murray, the world No1 and Roger Federer, the 17-time grand slam champion.
Whew, it's not as easy as I thought it was going to be Roger Federer
Murray found his opening match testing but succeeded in reaching the second round where he was joined later by Federer who, despite all his experience, found his return to the big stage a bit of a nerve racking occasion following his six months on the sidelines.
Playing his 69th major he served 19 aces and only double faulted once but dropped his serve three times as he beat Austrian Jurgen Melzer 7-5 3-6 6-2 6-2.
I was feeling nervous once the match actually started, said Federer. In the warmup … I felt fine. Then I hit four frames in a row. It was like, Whew, it’s not as easy as I thought it was going to be.
I struggled for a while to find that groove, that rhythm.
The Swiss had surgery on his knee after last year’s Aussie Open where he reached the last four. He then missed the French Open but returned for Wimbledon where he again made the semis but didn’t play again until today.
In the interim he dropped out of the tope ten for the first time 734 weeks and currently his ranking is 17.
He wasn’t the only marquee player to struggle on the opening day for Stan Wawrinka, the US Open champion and champion of Australia two years ago, struggled and was taken to five set as was Kei Nishikori but the biggest surprise was the defeat of Simona Halep, the fourth seed, who was ejected from Melbourne in the opening round for a second successive year.
Apropos the men’s singles, Wawrinka, who made his Grand Slam breakthrough in Australia in 2014, managed to recover from the loss of the opening set to eventually get past 35th-ranked Martin Klizan 4-6 6-4 7-5 4-6 6-4.
Nishikori beat Andrey Kuznetsov 7-5 1-6 6-4 7-6(6) 6-2.
Also through are the 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic, 2008 Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, John Isner, Jack Sock, Bernard Tomic, Viktor Troicki and Sam Querrey as well as Nick Kyrgios who has returned from his suspension.
The highest ranked player to go out is Lucas Pouille of France.
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In the women’s draw the defending champion Angelique Kerber had some nervous moments in her 6-2 5-7 6-2 win over Lesia Tsurenko.
After wasting a match point before her serve was broken as Tsurenko rallied to win the second set, Kerber said her mind raced back 12 months where she saved a match point in the opening round!
When I lost the second set, and I had match point, I was thinking about my match last year in the first round, she said recollecting that she came back from match point down in her opening round 12 months ago. First rounds are always tough.
Five of the womenÈs seeded players went out, including as mentioned earlier, Simona Halep, who lost 6-3 6-1 to Shelby Rogers in the first match on Rod Laver Arena, who admitted she was hindered tendinitis in her left knee, something which has affected her since last October.
“Definitely she played well. I think she played a very high standard. I had pain at my knee,” Halep said.
“I tried. I had some anti-inflammatory before the match, and the previous days. But when you have the tension of the match, official match, the pressure, it becomes harder.
“So I had harder pain and I couldn’t do what I wanted.”
Also out is Roberta Vinci (15), who lost to CoCo Vandeweghe.
Seven-time major winner Venus Williams beat Kateryna Kozlova 7-6(5) 7-5, and 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard continued her recent resurgence by routing Louisa Chirico 6-0 6-4.
Joining them in the next round will be French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, Olympic gold medallist Monica Puig, eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, Carla Suarez (10), Elina Svitolina (11) and Zhang Shuai, (20).