Federer opens Australian title defence as Murray hobbles into action

14 January, 2019, 15:23 | Author: Suzanne Horton
  • Rafael Nadal eyes Australian Open title 'I am playing well'

Reilly Opelka, ranked just 97th, earned his first victory in a main-draw match at a major by edging Isner in four tiebreakers 7-6 (4), 7-6 (6), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5) on Monday in the first round at Melbourne Park.

Nadal was clinical, sending Duckworth packing with a 6-4 6-3 7-5 victory at Rod Laver Area as he shrugged off fitness concerns on the first day of the Australian Open.

The 21-year-old Opelka, an inch taller than the 6ft-10in Isner (2.08m), broke the ninth seed's ideal 9-0 winning record against Americans at the Grand Slams in a match featuring 87 aces.

The 17-time major victor hasn't played since retiring from his semifinal at the U.S. Open because of a knee injury, and then had surgery on his right ankle in November.

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.

"Not easy to come back after a lot of months of competition, especially against a player playing super aggressive every shot", Nadal said.

"And, you know, trust that that's going to pay dividends for me in the future". "It's very special to be back". He returned the favor quickly, though, to seal his spot in the second round. The new rule was introduced to ensure matches don't get too lengthy - previously the third set in women's matches and the fifth set in men's matches at the Australian Open had to be decided by a two-game advantage.


"We now have 2019 and I try to continue to play how I did previous year", said the three-time Grand Slam victor.

Edmund made 36 unforced errors, 22 more than Berdych.

He said he would like to finish his career at Wimbledon, but admitted the Australian Open could be his last tournament.

Denmark's Wozniacki broke through for her first Slam title in Melbourne a year ago, beating Simona Halep in the final, and said she was relishing defending a major for the first time.

Wimbledon semi-finalist Isner fell at the first hurdle at Melbourne Park for the second year in a row, having been beaten by unseeded Australian Matthew Ebden in a major shock last year.

Defending champion Roger Federer was scheduled to play a night match later Monday.

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