Melbourne | Auger Aliassime survives five setter and joins Medvedev, Tsitsipas and De Minaur in R2

A number of marquee names made their first appearances at this year’s Australian Open and progressed successfully to round-two having overcome that tricky first hurdle at the first grand slam of the season.

Even if it was frustrating, I needed to stay tough and strong, and I’m happy I did because now I’m really happy. Felix Auger Aliassime

Canada’s Felix Auger Aliassime perhaps had the toughest of first round opponents in Dominic Thiem. Seeded 27 and a former quarter finalist in Melbourne, the former world No.6 had been at his best over the last year with a series of first round losses reflected by his drop in the rankings.

Austria’s Thiem, a former world No.3 and US Open champion (2020) as well as being a Finalist in Melbourne (2020), suffered with wrist problems which sidelined him in 2021 and much of 2022, and has only just got his form back to make an impression on the rankings, currently standing at 98.

With so much at stake for both players, their opening encounter was always going to be a tough match if they could find their respective A games.

And so it turned out. The encounter lasted four-hours and 59-minutes with the Canadian prevailing 6-3 7-5 6-7(5) 5-7 6-3.

Auger Aliassime took control early and led the Austrian by two sets which augured well considering his recent results.

At one stage, the 23-year-old was just two points away from a straight-set victory but Thiem fought back to force a third-set tie-break, which he snatched to stay in the match.

An interesting fourth set followed as Thiem forced the match into a decider.

The Canadian earned two match points before being penalised with a time violation warning but shook it off to wrap up the win at his first attempt.

Speaking after the match, Auger Aliassime expressed “a lot of relief”.

“It’s crazy, these matches, you go through all the emotions,” he said on court. “It was a great level, I started well and then it’s the sport. Sometimes it sucks.

“You’re trying your best, he played well, served well, and it was a struggle for me.

“In the end, I didn’t want to fail mentally. I didn’t want to disappoint myself with my effort or leave the court with any regrets.

“Even if it was frustrating, I needed to stay tough and strong, and I’m happy I did because now I’m really happy.”


Terence Atmane (R) is consoled by Daniil Medvedev

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Meanwhile the finalists of the past three years, Daniil Medvedev (2021-22) and Stefanos Tsitsipas (2023) joined him in round two following easier and more comfortable victories.

The Russian third seed was handed victory when the Frenchman Terence Atmane retired suffering from cramps (it was blistering hot) in the fourth set with the score standing at 5-7 6-2 6-4 1-0 while the Greek star seeded 7, also had to recover from dropping the first set before dispatching Zizon Bergs, a Lucky Loser entry from Belgium, 5-7 6-1 6-1 6-3.

“When I started to feel tough physically, he started cramping, so it was brutal conditions,” Medvedev said after the match.

“I’ve been here for seven days and it hasn’t been hot, and now it was hot for the first match. I was getting tired but many times in these situations the other guy is getting tired too and it’s about who manages it better.”

And Medvedev did.


Stefanos Tsitsipas recovered from dropping the first set

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Bergs was a late replacement for Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, whose injury woes continue unabated giving the Belgian a great opportunity to make an impact on his debut at a grand slam. And ranked 129, he looked as if he was grabbing his chance but like Atmane, he wasn’t able to cope with the physicality of the match and the searing heat. In fact he had retired in qualifying suffering from cramp!

Tsitsipas said in his post-match interview that the late change of opponent provided him with some problems but he had managed to overcome them.

“I was expecting Matteo and things like this are quite dangerous when you are preparing for a specific type of player,” the Greek icon admitted.

“It was not easy for me but I had that determination… I am glad I turned it around and showed that fighting spirit.”


Alex de Minaur snaps down a strong serve

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

In the evening matches, Alex de Minaur, the young Australian who is best known in Britain as Katie Boulter’s boyfriend, is carrying all the hosts hopes and he opened his campaign against Canada’s Milos Raonic, a player renowned for his blistering serve but has been sidelined for two years with a series of injuries.

Playing in only his 10th tour level match since making his comeback, the Canadian looked in good form but had to get medical treatment to his hip when he was leading 5-4 in the first set but went on to claim it on a tiebreak.

De Minaur levelled by capturing the second on his fourth set point and then broke to take a 2-0 lead in the third at which point Raonic retired.

“I hope Milos has a speedy recovery. It’s not great to see him like this. He deserves to be healthy and playing the incredible tennis that he has done for so many years. Hopefully he is back in no time”, the ‘Demon’ Minaur said.

De Minaur is one of 15 Australian men to start the men’s singles draw this year, the most since 1998 when 17 Aussies competed in Melbourne and he is attempting to become the first home player to win he tile since Mark Edmondson in 1977.



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