Roger Federer got the ball rolling today in the defence of his title. Bedene played reasonably well from what I have seen and both players went for it, trouble is there will only be one winner in that situation. Jan-Lennard Struff is next on the Fed-Ex’s agenda.
Juan Martin Del Potro had a tough opener against the talented Frances Tiafoe. I am a big fan of Frances and he played well today but DelBoy just had all the answers, doing everything a little bit better than his opponent, 6/3 6/4 6/3. Khachanov will be a test again in the second round, the Argentine beating him on the way to the final in Auckland last week.
Novak Djokovic impressed against Donald Young, dropping only 7 games, he faces Gael Monfils next. It will be match by match for Nole but this was certainly a good start, he said after he was happy with his intensity. The 14-0 head to head against Monfils bodes well, let’s see if the Frenchman can get into this one, no reason why he shouldn’t. “I will have to increase my level much more than what I have shown today to be really competitive against Novak. I do not have enough confidence yet,” is a slight concern maybe if you read into quotes.
Dominic Thiem posted a decent 6/4 6/4 6/4 against Guido Pella, this looked a nightmare on paper for the Austrian and one he will be very pleased to have got out of the way. Stan Wawrinka was a little luckier against Ricardas Berankis winning in four. Stan didn’t sound too positive after but what can you expect after surgery in his defence. Berankis could have taken this the distance today.
Sascha Zverev will need to up it as he wasn’t at his best against Thomas Fabbiano and David Goffin came from a set and a break down to beat Matthias Bachinger. Three seeds who fell though were Milos Raonic, Roberto Bautista Agut and Mischa Zverev. Raonic looked rusty in his four-set loss to Lukas Lacko and Bautista was hammered in straights by Fernando Verdasco 6/1 7/5 7/5. Last weeks triumph in Auckland making this a step too far for RBA. Mischa pulled out against Next Gen Champion, Hyeon Chung when 2/6 1/4. The Korean will now face Daniil Medvedev in a repeat of the Milan semi-final. Should be a cracker that one as Medvedev is in decent form too, the Sydney champ beating Thanasi Kokkinakis in a good encounter.
Other winners today included Richard Gasquet, Sam Querrey (beat Feli Lopez), Adrian Mannarino, Fabio Fognini and Tomas Berdych, who went away from Alex De Minaur winning the last two sets 6/0 6/1. Berdych having too much in the end against but it’s been a good couple of weeks for the 18-year-old.
Top seed Simona Halep got through after trailing 2/5 in the opener against Destanee Aiava, the Australian Wildcard really went for it here early doors but couldn’t sustain her level. She actually said she was hyperventilating and that is why she got the trainer out at 5/2 up in the opener. Simona then went and twisted her ankle late on and it sounds like it might be a bit of a worry. Genie Bouchard is her second round opponent.
Ash Barty delighted the home fans by coming from a set down against Aryna Sabalenka. This was a decent standard and Sabalenka once again showed her pedigree. A lot of social media comments here about Sabalenka’s grunting. Barty will now face Camila Giorgi who is in form right now. This will be another major test and as we know Giorgi won’t be holding back in her shot selection.
Jo Konta brushed aside Madison Brengle. Brengle can prove a real handful sometimes with her unorthodox style but Jo was having none of it. Both her and Joyce are talking very positively of late.Bernarda Pera is next for the Brit. Karolina Pliskova wasn’t great today by all accounts but did enough to beat Veronica Cepede Royg. Pliskova will face Beatriz Haddad Maia in the second round. Lefty v Lefty and I am a big fan of BHM, let us see how she gets on.
Angie Kerber and Madison Keys both won through in straights. Kerber has Donna Vekic next. Can Vekic cause her any problems? She will need to be aggressive and consistent. Garbine Muguruza beat Wildcard Jessika Ponchet (who I saw described as a ‘Walmart Henin’, interesting) 6/4 6/3. I was obviously relieved to see Caroline Garcia beat Carina Witthoeft, reports don’t necessarily sound great but a win is a win.
Kiki Mladenovic and Petra Kvitova were two bigger name casualties. Neither that much of a surprise though. Mladenovic is now on a 15-match losing streak after her loss to Ana Bogdan and said after, ”There is no need to worry, it can not continue like this, especially with the work I do on a daily basis.” Petra lost 10/8 in the decider to Andrea Petkovic in a match that didn’t sound like it was the highest of quality. Yulia Putintseva also knocked out Heather Watson.
Other players progressing were Naomi Osaka, Elena Vesnina, Lucie Safarova, Sorana Cirstea, Lesia Tsurenko, Aggie Radwanska, Maria Sharapova and Anastasija Sevastova. Sharapova and Sevastova play each other next. The Latvian, as I have said before is a horrible matchup for Sharapova, this has been proven in their two encounters in New York and Beijing. They share the spoils one apiece.
Andy Del Potro