Federer, Osaka, Serena Through as Rain Delays Australian Open
Serena Williams and Roger Federer made winning starts before heavy rain caused chaos on day one of the Australian Open Monday, further disrupting the Grand Slam after a build-up hit by haze from raging bushfires.
Hazardous smog left several players with coughs and breathing difficulties during qualifying last week, prompting speculation about whether the year’s first tennis Major would be delayed.
Air quality was rated as ‘good’ as the tournament started on schedule but play was suspended just hours after the start of the Australian Open on Monday as heavy rain fell on Melbourne Park, causing further disruption after a build-up hit by smoke from bushfires.
Umbrellas went up and fans were sent scurrying for cover as the heavens opened at about 3:00 pm (0400 GMT), making play impossible on most of the courts.
World number three Roger Federer’s match against Steve Johnson was briefly interrupted while officials closed the roof on Rod Laver Arena, and Petra Kvitova’s match with Katerina Siniakova was also continuing under the roof at Margaret Court Arena.
Smog from Australia’s raging bushfires delayed qualifying last week and left several players with coughs and breathing problems, but air quality has improved in recent days.
But Federer eventually made a short work of American Steve Johnson in three straight sets, 6-3 6-2 6-2. The veteran Swiss ace needed just 120 minutes to qualify for the second round.
Serena Williams also prevailed in her match beating the Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova 6-0 6-3 in 58 minutes.
The 38-year-old American, wearing a lilac dress and matching trainers, and sporting heavily decorated fingernails, blitzed the first set in 19 minutes as she launched her quest for a 24th Grand Slam title with a quickfire demolition of Potapova.
The eighth seed plays Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia or Han Na-lae of South Korea in round two in an expectant Melbourne, where she can equal the all-time record of Grand Slam titles.
Williams comes into Melbourne in ominous form after breaking her three-year title drought with victory in Auckland — her first since becoming a mother to daughter Olympia.
Olympia was there to see her mother win the title last week, but Williams said after easing to victory over the 18-year-old Potapova: “It was really special for me (Olympia) and her — I hope for her.”
Defending champion Naomi Osaka also began her Australian Open title defence in emphatic fashion, breaking the net with a blockbuster serve as she dismantled unseeded Czech Marie Bouzkova on Monday.
The 22-year-old Japanese, the world’s second highest-paid female athlete after Serena Williams, powered through 6-2, 6-4 in 80 minutes.
The two-time Grand Slam champion, one of the prime threats to Williams’s bid to win a record-equalling 24th major, will play China’s Zheng Saisai in round two.
Third seed Osaka saw her victory march held up for a few minutes early in the second set after a fizzing serve clocked at 183 kilometres per hour (114 miles per hour) damaged a net tether at the 15,000-capacity Rod Laver Arena.
“Broke the net today,” Osaka tweeted afterwards to her more than 500,000 followers, along with a video of three maintenance personnel rushing onto court to repair the broken fixture.
Osaka, who endured a turbulent 2019 after winning in Melbourne 12 months ago, was relieved to overcome the 59th-ranked Bouzkova safely.
“It was really tough for me trying to control my nerves,” she said. “It’s tough to play someone you’ve never played before in the first round of a Grand Slam. I hope I’m still standing here at the end of this week.”
Australian Open Results Day One:
- Matteo Berrettini (ITA x8) bt Andrew Harris (AUS) 6-3, 6-1, 6-3
- Ricardas Berankis (LIT) bt Roberto Carballes (ESP) 6-4, 6-2, 6-2
- Sam Querrey (USA) bt Borna Coric (CRO x25) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
- Guido Pella (ARG x22) bt John-Patrick Smith (AUS) 6-3, 7-5, 6-4
- Gregoire Barrere (FRA) bt Mohamed Safwat (EGY) 6-7 (8/10), 7-6 (7/1), 6-4, 7-6 (7/5)
- Marton Fucsovics (HUN) bt Denis Shapovalov (CAN x13) 6-3, 6-7 (7/9), 6-1, 7-6 (7/3)
- Daniel Evans (GBR x30) bt Mackenzie McDonald (USA) 3-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-3
- Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) bt Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/1)
- Zhu Lin (CHN) bt Viktorija Golubic (SUI) 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (10/5)
- Julia Georges (GER) bt Viktoria Kuzmova (SVK) 6-1, 6-2
- Petra Martic (CRO x13) bt Christina McHale (USA) 6-3, 6-0
- Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS x25) bt Jil Teichmann (SUI) 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
- Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) bt Kaia Kanepi (EST) 7-6 (7/3), 2-6, 6-3
- Paula Badosa (ESP) bt Johanna Larsson (SWE) 6-1, 6-0
- Naomi Osaka (JPN x3) bt Marie Bouzkova (CZE) 6-2, 6-4
- Zheng Saisai (CHN) bt Anna Kalinskaya (RUS) 6-3, 6-2
- Sorana Cirstea (ROU) bt Barbora Strycova (CZE x32) 6-2, 7-6 (7/5)
- Ann Li (USA) bt Lizette Cabrera (AUS) 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (12/10)
- Sofia Kenin (USA x14) bt Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-2, 6-4
- Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) bt Kristie Ahn (USA) 6-1, 6-3
- Tamara Zidansek (SLO) bt Han Na-lae (KOR) 6-3, 6-3
- Serena Williams (USA x8) bt Anastasia Potapova (RUS) 6-0, 6-3