Published On: Mon, Jan 18th, 2016

Australian Open 2016: day one – as it happened


Powered by article titled “Australian Open 2016: day one – as it happened” was written by Jacob Steinberg, for on Monday 18th January 2016 12.23 UTC

12.23pm GMT

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is bouncing around Rod Laver Arena after wrapping up a fine 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Marcos Baghdatis, who was overpowered by the Frenchman’s big serving, variation and overall greater quality despite showing why he once got to a final here. That was a long time ago, though, and Baghdatis is more of a throwback showman these days, good enough to test the best in a five-set match, not durable or consistent enough to actually beat them. He’s out in the first round, while Tsonga is through to face Australia’s Omar Jasika, who’s only 18.

That’s the end of today’s action. It’s been a fun first day. There were no shocks of seismic proportions, with Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Nick Kyrgios and other big names in the men’s draw sailing through and Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska and Petra Kvitova untroubled in the women’s draw, but there were a few surprising results about, the 17th seed Benoit Paire losing to young American Noah Rubin and a host of top women going out. Caroline Wozniacki was the biggest name to fall, losing to Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva. From a British perspective, Kyle Edmund and Heather Watson both suffered disappointing defeats. Ah well. There’s always Andy Murray. His match against Alexander Zverev is up second on Margaret Court Arena tomorrow.

The big story of the day, though? Those match fixing allegations. Now there’s a story that could run and run. Thanks for reading. Goodbye.

12.10pm GMT

Tsonga has broken again and will serve for the match at 5-2. You have to feel for Baghdatis, who played so well in the first three sets.

12.03pm GMT

The pressure tells. Tsonga breaks for a 3-2 lead in set four and the final match on day one has taken what should be a decisive turn.

12.01pm GMT

Tsonga is pressing for a break in the fourth set here. Baghatis is doing all he can to hold him off, but the pressure is growing.

11.47am GMT

Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, who could have made it as a footballer, given that he was on the books of Villarreal until he was 14, has beaten Martin Klizan. The 24th seed overcomes a curious mid-match wobble to win 6-2, 6-3, 4-6, 2-6, 6-2. An odd five-setter.

11.41am GMT

All’s well in the world of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga again, as the Frenchman wins the third set against Marcos Baghdatis. He leads 6-4, 4-6, 6-4

11.37am GMT

Another seed falls in the women’s draw. There’s deflation on Rod Laver Arena as Australia Sam Stosur, the 25th seed, loses 6-4, 7-6 to Kristyna Pliskova.

Updated at 11.49am GMT

11.27am GMT

Here’s some audio of John Whittingdale’s thoughts on today’s match fixing allegations. Feast your eyes on that.

11.25am GMT

Roberto Bautista Agut has steadied himself in the fifth set against Martin Klizan. The Spaniard leads 3-1 and it appears that normal service has been resumed after the weirdness of the previous two sets.

11.19am GMT

Sam Stosur is on shaky ground, but she’s still standing. Krystyna Pliskova served for the match at 5-4, but they’re still going and Stosur has a 6-5 lead in the second set.

Updated at 11.50am GMT

11.07am GMT

An hour or so ago, Roberto Bautista Agut was feeling pretty good about life. He led 6-2, 6-3 against Martin Klizan. Since then? Eh. They’ve gone into a fifth set, Klizan taking sets three and four 6-4, 6-3. This is an impressive fightback from the Slovakian.

11.05am GMT

They’re level on Margaret Court Arena, where Marcos Baghdatis turned on the style at the end of the second set and took it 6-4. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is unhappy with the behaviour of some fans in the crowd and he’s had a word with the umpire during the changeover.

10.57am GMT

Heather Watson is out of the Australian Open. I’m not going to call it a brave effort. Timea Babos secures her first ever win in the Australian Open, at the fourth time of asking, battering a backhand down the line to win 6-7, 7-5, 7-5. The 22-year-old Hungarian enjoyed that. It’s a huge win for her, but a dreadful disappointment for Watson. The British No2 served for the match in the second set, but she failed to take her chances and Babos took full advantage, levelling the match and then overpowering her opponent in the end. Watson will be feeling pretty sick after letting a lurching, topsy-turvy contest got away from her. There was some excellent tennis out there, but that won’t be much of a consolation. The 23-year-old’s miserable record in Melbourne, where she has made the second round on only one occasion, continues and the question now is whether Judy Murray will stay on as her coach.

Babos is through to the next round.
Babos is through to the next round. Photograph: Jason O’Brien/Reuters

Updated at 11.01am GMT

10.51am GMT

A huge forehand down the line from Babos brings up a match point. Watson is on the brink.

10.47am GMT

It’s Babos’s turn to hold. She leads 6-5 and Watson will have to hold to stay in the match again/

10.46am GMT

Watson holds. An actual hold. This is what it looks like. It’s 5-5 in the third set.

10.41am GMT

Watson breaks back! This is absurd. Babos plonks a forehand wide on a second break point and they’re back on serve after four consecutive breaks. You have to admire Watson’s spirit, but she still trails 5-4 and has to hold now.

10.36am GMT

Watson undoes all her good work in the previous game, tightening up and dropping her serve to love. That was poor. Babos will serve for the match at 5-3.

10.35am GMT

Andrea Seppi is finally through to the second round, winning a titanic fourth-set tie-break 12-10 and securing a hard-fought 3-6, 7-6, 6-4, 7-6 victory over Georgia’s Teymuraz Gabashvili.

10.32am GMT

Heather Watson had it all to do. She’s done all she had to do. For now, anyway, after she responds to being broken by hitting back straight away, responding to being broken by zinging a backhand down the line to haul herself level in the third set. Babos leads 4-3 and it’s Watson to serve.

Watson returns with a backhand.
Watson returns with a backhand. Photograph: Jason O’Brien/Reuters

Updated at 10.37am GMT

10.30am GMT

Australia’s Sam Stosur, a former US Open champion and the 25th seed, is disappointing the home fans on Rod Laver Arena. She’s dropped the first set 6-4 to Krystyna Pliskova.

Updated at 11.49am GMT

10.29am GMT

A smooth enough ride for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga against the wily Marcos Baghdatis so far, the No9 seed winning the first set 6-4. It’s been an unsurprisingly enjoyable match.

10.28am GMT

And Watson doesn’t hold. Babos gets the precious break and she leads 4-2 in the decider. Watson has it all to do here.

10.23am GMT

Watson saves both break points, though, and the game goes to deuce! She’s hanging on. But she still has to hold.

10.22am GMT

Timea Babos has two break points against Heather Watson in the third set. This could be a critical moment.

10.22am GMT

Another seed bites the dust in the women’s draw. We’ve already said farewell to Sloane Stephens, Caroline Wozniacki, Sara Errani and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova today and now it’s time to wave goodbye to Germany’s Andrea Petkovic, who’s lost 7-5, 6-4 to Elizaveta Kulichkova. A huge win for the 19-year-old Russian, a massive disappointment for the 22nd seed.

Updated at 11.48am GMT

10.15am GMT

They’re still locked on serve in the third set on Court 8, Heather Watson and Timea Babos both refusing to give each other an inch so far. It’s 2-2, with Babos serving.

10.14am GMT

It’s going with the form book on Margaret Court Arena, where Jo-Wilfried Tsonga leads 4-2 in the first set against Marcos Baghdatis. The winner faces Australia’s Omar Jasika in the next round.

10.10am GMT

Roger Federer has been asked about the matchfixing allegations in his press conference.

10.01am GMT

Quite the collapse from Heather Watson. Broken to 15, she loses the second set 7-5 to Timea Babos, having served for the match at 5-4. Oh dear.

9.56am GMT

Another break point for Babos, though, and this time she takes it. Watson will be kicking herself. She served for the match and now look, she finds herself serving to force a second-set tie-break at 6-5 down. She still needs to develop more of a ruthless streak in her game.

9.51am GMT

Watson saves the break point! It’s deuce.

9.51am GMT

After winning a 40-stroke rally, Britain’s Heather Watson is serving for a place in the second round at 5-4 in the second set. But hang on just a moment. Timea Babos has a break point here.

9.48am GMT

Nick Kyrgios has beaten Pablo Carreno Busta in unfussy style, winning 6-2, 7-5, 6-2. The 29th seed will presumably celebrate by listening to some loud music or getting a garish tattoo of a skull on his chest. Kids, eh? Tsk. He faces Argentina’s Pablo Cuevas in the second round.

Updated at 10.14am GMT

9.47am GMT

On Margaret Court Arena, we’ve got an intriguing match between two fabulously entertaining players, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the ninth seed and a losing finalist in 2008, and Marcos Baghdatis, the erratic and engaging Cypriot talent who was a losing finalist in 2006. Baghdatis is ranked 46th in the world, but he possesses the kind of wildcard game to cause problems for anyone on his day.

9.40am GMT

Andrea Petkovic has some work to do on Court 6. The 22nd seed has lost the first set 7-5 to the 19-year-old Russian, Elizaveta Kulichkova.

9.34am GMT

Kevin Mitchell has filed a story on Novak Djokovic’s thoughts on the match fixing allegations. The world No1 responded to an incident in 2007 when it was alleged he was offered 0,000 to throw a match.

After seeing off the exciting young Korean Hyeon Chung in three quick sets on the first day of the 2016 Australian Open, the defending champion Djokovic said: “I’ve heard about the story and I read that there were a couple of players mentioned who are not active anymore,” he said, “talking about the matches that have happened almost 10 years ago. Of course, there is no room for any match-fixing or corruption in our sport. We’re trying to keep it as clean as possible. We have, I think, a sport that has evolved, and have upgraded our programs and authorities to deal with these particular cases.

“I don’t think a shadow is cast over our sport. People are talking about names, guessing who these players are. But there’s no real proof or evidence yet of any active players, for that matter. As long as it’s like that, it’s just speculation.”

He spoke too about an incident in 2007 when it was alleged he had been offered 0,000 to throw a first-round match in Petersburg, a tournament he did not eventually attend.

“I was not approached directly,” he said. “Well… I was approached through people that were working with me at that time, that were with my team. Of course, we threw it away right away. It didn’t even get to me, the guy that was trying to talk to me, he didn’t even get to me directly. There was nothing out of it.

“Unfortunately there were some, in those times, those days, rumours, some talks, some people were going around. They were dealt with. In the last six, seven years, I haven’t heard anything similar. I personally was never approached directly, so I have nothing more to say about that.”

Updated at 9.38am GMT

9.32am GMT

“It’s a nice opening,” Federer says. “I’m happy I played so well. I agree I played great. I’m feeling much better than I did in Brisbane.” His victory was never in doubt, but he could find it tougher in his second match, when he’ll face the Ukrainian world No35, Alexandr Dolgopolov. That one promises to be entertaining.

9.28am GMT

It’s all over on Rod Laver Arena. You’re not going to believe this, but Roger Federer has beaten Nikoloz Basilashvili for the loss of only five games. If you blinked, you missed it.

9.27am GMT

Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova reaches for a return on her way to victory in the first round at the Australian Open. Photograph: Aaron Favila/AP

Nice to know you, Nao Hibino. Good of you to join us. But it’s time to leave. She’s been outclassed by Maria Sharapova, which is no surprise, and the No5 seed is through after a 6-1, 6-3 victory.

Updated at 9.29am GMT

9.22am GMT

Nick Kyrgios has Pablo Carreno Busta right where he wants him. He’s up 6-2, 7-5 against the Spaniard and it doesn’t seem that he’s being held back by any fitness problems.

9.21am GMT

Eugenie Bouchard
Eugenie Bouchard on her way to victory over Aleksandra Krunic on day one at the Australian Open. Photograph: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

Eugenie Bouchard is through, sweeping past Andrea Krunic 6-3, 6-4. That should do the young Canadian a world of good.

Updated at 9.32am GMT

9.16am GMT

Judy Murray’s influence appears to be doing wonders for Heather Watson. The British No2 has willed herself into a first-set lead, winning a tie-break 7-4 against Hungary’s Timea Babos. But there’s still a way to go in this one. Don’t be surprised if it goes into a third set.

9.14am GMT

Grigor Dimitrov comes through a testing encounter with Paolo Lorenzi, beating the Italian 6-3, 7-6, 6-3. It looks like a straightforward result, but Dimitrov could easily have lost the second and third sets. That probably helps explain why he’s seeded 27th.

9.07am GMT

Heather Watson
Heather Watson in action during her first round match against Timea Babos at the Australian Open. Photograph: Pat Scala/Getty Images

Heather Watson is into a tie-break with Timea Babos. She had an early break, but it’s been a tight first set.

Updated at 9.35am GMT

9.05am GMT

Roger Federer is making serene progress towards the second round. He leads 6-2, 6-1 and he’s playing so well that it actually represents an achievement for Nikoloz Basilashvili that he took a game in that second set.

9.02am GMT

Grigor Dimitrov appears to be over his third-set wobble against Paolo Lorenzi. Already two sets up, the Bulgarian has broken back against the Italian.

9.00am GMT

Andrea Seppi, who knocked out Federer last year, has recovered well from the loss of the first set against Teymuraz Gabashvili. He leads 3-6, 7-6, 6-4. Sounds like a ding-dong battle over on Court 13.

8.56am GMT

Nick Kyrgios has pulled himself together, the little scamp. He breaks back in the second set and leads 6-2, 3-2.

8.51am GMT

Federer breaks again. He leads 3-0 in the second set. Does he have somewhere else to be?

8.49am GMT

Nick Kyrgios
Nick Kyrgios feels the heat against Spain’s Pablo Carreño Busta. Photograph: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

Here’s the Kyrgios dip. He’s down a break in the second set against Pablo Carreno Busta, having taken the first set 6-2 in no time at all.

Updated at 9.41am GMT

8.47am GMT

Would it surprise you to learn that Roger Federer is already a break up on Court 2? No, thought not. If all goes according to plan, he’s heading for a semi-final with Djokovic. Does he have any chance of beating the world No1?

8.46am GMT

Maria Sharapova can tell Eugenie Bouchard a thing or two about dealing with pressure early in your career. The fifth seed is having fun against Nao Hibino, the first set going the Russian’s way. 6-1.

8.43am GMT

Eugenie Bouchard is always a story. She’s taken the first set 6-3 against Andrea Krunic on Court 2. She’ll be hoping for a better 2016. The former world No5 is ranked 48th these days, but she’s only 21 years old.

Updated at 8.44am GMT

8.39am GMT

Roger Federer
Roger Federer in action during his first round match against Nikoloz Basilashvili. Photograph: Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images

Basilashvili made a bit of a fight of it, but there’s no stopping Roger Federer. He takes the first set 6-2. And so does Nick Kyrgios. He’s firmly in control against Pablo Carreno Busta.

Updated at 8.57am GMT

8.35am GMT

Heather Watson has let go of her advantage against Timea Babos. She was on top early on, but they’re back on serve in the first set on Court 8 after Babos broke back.

8.32am GMT

Noah Rubin
Noah Rubin has knocked the No17 seed Benoît Paire out of the Australian Open in three sets. Photograph: William West/AFP/Getty Images

Noah Rubin has won! What a performance from the 19-year-old American, who defeats Benoit Paire 7-6, 7-6, 7-6. The No17 seed is out. Mazel tov.

Updated at 8.55am GMT

8.31am GMT

Nick Kyrgios
Nick Kyrgios in action during his first round match against Pablo Carreño Busta on day one of the Australian Open. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Nick Kyrgios is making mincemeat out of Carreno Busta, breaking for a 4-1 lead, and Roger Federer is doing similar to Basilashvili. And Dimitrov does take that set point. He wins the tie-brea 10-8 and leads 6-3, 7-6 against Paolo Lorenzi. Dimitrov had to be gritty there. He was in trouble in that tie-break, but he got there in the end.

Updated at 8.45am GMT

8.28am GMT

Over on Court 3, a dramatic second-set tie-break between Grigor Dimitrov and Paolo Lorenzi. It’s 8-8 on the Lorenzi serve. The Italian has failed to take a set point. He’s dominated the tie-break. Is Dimitrov going to snatch it? He just might, you know. He’s just taken a 9-8 lead and will serve for the second set.

8.23am GMT

It’s not taken Roger Federer long. He earns a break point with a trademark backhand down the line and moves into a 2-1 lead when Basilashvili cracks under the pressure and double-faults.

8.22am GMT

Maria Sharapova is cruising against Hibino. She’s already up two breaks in the first set.

8.21am GMT

Benoit Paire served for the third set against Noah Rubin at 5-4. He had a set point. He lost the set point. He faced a break point. He lost the game. It’s 5-5 and Rubin is making quite the impact on Court 6. The young American is Jewish, so he’s already my favourite player.

8.15am GMT

Heather Watson has made a fast start against Timea Babos, taking an early 2-0 lead. It’s her year. It’s on!

8.15am GMT

The evening session will be underway soon. On Rod Laver, here comes Roger Federer. Nikoloz Basilashvili is today’s designated lamb to the slaughter. Maria Sharapova, the No5 seed, is also in action, taking on Nao Hibino, and Nick Kyrgios, the Aussie renegade, will be taking it easy soon enough against Pablo Carreno Busta. What to expect from Kyrgios today? Your guess is as good as mine. Will his foot be okay?

7.59am GMT

Heather Watson
Heather Watson practises on day one of the Australian Open in Melbourne. Photograph: Zak Kaczmarek/Getty Images

Over on Court 8, Heather Watson is about to get underway against Timea Babos. The British No2 is being coached by none other than Judy Murray at the moment. What do you mean you’d like to read my profile of Murray while we wait?

Updated at 8.35am GMT

7.52am GMT

Young Noah Rubin is playing the match of his young life over on Court 6, having taken a two-set lead against Benoit Paire, the 17th seed. Rubin is only 19 years old. He’s won two tie-breaks. But the tide could be turning – Paire leads 2-0 in the third set. One to keep an eye on.

7.50am GMT

Every top player is being asked about matchfixing. “Every player I play seems to play hard,” Serena Williams said. “If that’s going on, I don’t know about it.” Marin Cilic, the US Open champion in 2014, said that he doesn’t believe it exists at the top level.

7.49am GMT

Yulia Putintseva was cramping badly towards the end of her shocl win over Wozniacki. She said she “just ate salt” in the third set.

7.40am GMT

Novak Djokovic has revealed that there was an approach through people in his team to throw a match in 2007. “We threw it away right away,” the world No1 said. “He didn’t get to me directly.”

7.37am GMT

The fallout from those matchfixing allegation rumbles on. The culture secretary, John Whitingdale, has been on the Today programme saying the claims are “serious allegations” and a “matter of grave concern”.

7.34am GMT

Grigor Dimitrov is showing off his biceps in a sleeveless red top. Look at my muscles. Maybe don’t look at my tennis. Look at the muscles. Not the tennis. The muscles. Up here. Over here. Look at them glisten. It’s a bit Nadal 2006.

Updated at 7.36am GMT

7.32am GMT

Yulia Putintseva
Yulia Putintseva celebrates after knocking Caroline Wozniacki out of the Australian Open in the first round. Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters

Caroline Wozniacki is out! After three hours and 11 minutes, Yulia Putintseva has outlasted the former world No1, making it into the second round of the Australian Open for the first time since 2013 with a tremendously gutsy performance against one of the game’s toughest players. She saw one match point come and go in that final game and she also had to withstand some heavy fire from the Dane on that final point – it looked like she would crack at one stage – but she hung in there and eventually sealed it when Wozniacki netted a tired forehand. Putintseva wins 1-6, 7-6, 6-4. And just look at that score in the first set. That was quite the comeback. Wozniacki can’t have seen it coming. She’s never going to win a major, is she?

Updated at 8.44am GMT

7.27am GMT

Novak Djokovic was asked about the matchfixing allegations after his victory. His response? “People talking about names … there’s no (fixing) proof of any active player.”

7.25am GMT

Sets. Sets. First sets are flying by. Grigor Dimitrov takes it 6-3 against Paolo Lorenzi. But another seed is in bother. Andrea Seppi, the 28th seed and the conqueror of Roger Federer last year, is a set down to the experienced Georgian Teymuraz Gabashvili on Court 13.

7.24am GMT

Caroline Wozniacki is in trouble! Putintseva has broken for a 5-lead in the third set and the unfancied Kazakh will serve for the match here.

7.21am GMT

A player who’s quietly risen up the rankings is France’s Benoit Paire. He’s never made much of an impression on anyone, but he’s seeded 17th here after a fine recent run of form. However he’s struggling today, having lost the first set to Noah Rubin, an unseeded American teenager, on Court 6. They could be heading for another tie-break in the second set.

7.19am GMT

Remember when Grigor Dimitrov destroyed Andy Murray at Wimbledon two years ago? I thought he was a dead cert to become a future champion after that one. Now I’m not so sure. The man they call Baby Fed experienced some teething problems in 2015 and having pushed for a place in the top 10 not so long ago, he’s seeded 27th for this one. As such, he’s been shoved out to Court 3 today. But he does lead 5-3 in the first set against Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi. There’s hope yet for the likeable Bulgarian.

7.17am GMT

Right now? We’ll have Roger Federer, Nick Kyrgios and Heather Watson in action later. But right now, Caroline Wozniacki, the 16th seed, is in embroiled in one hell of a tussle with Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva, where they’re on serve in a tight first set. Wozniacki, still searching for that first grand slam, won the first set 6-1 and she must have thought it would be a cruise. Not so. She dropped the second set on a tie-break and leads 4-3 on serve in the decider.

5.25pm GMT


Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning his first round match against South Korea’s Hyeon Chung at the Australian Open. Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters

Hello. With the shadow of matchfixing allegations in tennis looming over the tournament and indeed the sport itself, there is a slightly weird vibe on day of the Australian Open. There’s not much more that can be said about claims that a grand slam champion is suspected of involvement, along with eight players who are competing in Melbourne over the next fortnight, but I think that we can safely assume that this story isn’t going to be a one-dayer.

But on we go. What else can we do? There is, after all, tennis to watch and tennis to enjoy, so that’s what we’ll be doing for the next few hours. It’s already been going for a few hours, as it happens. Here’s a quick summary of what’s happened so far. Both world No1s are safely through to the second round, Novak Djokovic beat the rising South Korean Hyeon Chung in straight sets and Serena Williams emerged unscathed from a difficult encounter with Italy’s Camila Giorgi, the highest ranked player she could have faced in the first round.

Kei Nishikori has managed not to slip on a potential banana skin, defeating Philipp Kohlschreiber easily enough. Tomas Berdych beat Yuki Bhambri, Gilles Simon came back from a set down against Vasek Pospisil, David Goffin did the same against Sergiy Stakhovsky and so did Marin Cilic against Timmo de Bakker. But we’ve already lost a Brit, Kyle Edmund cramping up and losing to Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur, going down 1-6, 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, while the Croatian prodigy Borna Coric lost in straight sets to Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

In the women’s draw, Serena is through, but another American is out, Sloane Stephens losing to China’s Wang Qiang, while Christina McHale lost to world No4 Agnieszka Radwanska and Alison Riske lost to Belinda Bencic. Svetlana Kuznetsova and Petra Kvitova are also through, but out goes the 17th seed Sara Errani, having lost to the young Russian, Margarita Gasparyan, and it’s goodbye to Dominika Cibulkova, a finalist two years ago, after she lost to France’s Kristina Mladenovic. Australia’s Daria Gavrilova is also into the second round after beating Lucie Hradecka, but I’d better start telling you about what’s going on right now.

Updated at 8.35am GMT © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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