The day was finally interrupted by the rain we had all been expecting but we got through a fair chunk before that. Evans got it done in just over three hours and twenty minutes where Williams won in just fifty-eight minutes.
Evo got off to slow start against Mackenzie McDonald but managed to stay focused and turn it around. Admittedly McDonald was fading as the match progressed but Evans stuck at it and the fact he made McDonald play a lot more will have contributed to the American’s downfall. Evo was his usual animated self at times. We all know I like a good old rant but he was understandably frustrated early on in this one. It was quite comfortable from two sets down though, strange as it may sound.
It doesn’t get any easier against Yoshihito Nishioka in the second round, he has a 2-0 head to head over Evo, both on the US hardcourts including last year in Washington. I remember watching that and I think the match came at a difficult time of the season for the Brit. The bookies make him a 4/7 (63%) favourite for this currently. It won’t be easy, Nishioka doesn’t give you much pace, he is a tricky opponent. If Evo digs in here though there is no reason why we won’t get a free crack at Djokovic in the third round.
Having Serena on court at the same time as Evo is an absolute disaster but that is what happened here. This was more straight forward from start to finish though against the talented 18-year-old Anastasia Potapova. We know the Russian has a big future ahead of her and though it wasn’t flawless from Serena it was more than good enough to get her into the event. The intensity looks there as you would expect and the motivation to get the job done here is clear. I was quite pleased to get this done 6/0 6/3 today, she will face the Slovenian Tamara Zidansek in the second round. Naomi Osaka was also a comfortable winner in this section against Marie Bouzkova, both players edge one step closer to what could be a blistering quarter-final!
I also caught the end of Grigor Dimitrov as he came past Juan Ignacio Londero in four sets. The Bulgarian dropped the opener before coming through, but Londero, as he did against Djokovic in the States last year, wasn’t going to make it easy. Elsewhere there were quick-fire wins for Roger Federer, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Matteo Berrettini. Nole dropped a set against Jan-Lennard Struff but didn’t really break too much sweat by all account. Two seeds to fall before the rain came in Melbourne were Borna Coric to Sam Querrey and Denis Shapovalov lost to Marton Fucsovics. The Canadian admitted that nerves got the better of him and that “not all of me was there today.”
Ash Barty looked pretty edgy against Lesia Tsurenko early doors but like Evo came through pretty comfortably in the end, despite dropping the opener. Tsurenko has proved before she can be a tricky opponent, so to lose just two games in sets two and three will be pleasing for the Aussie. There were also easy wins for Caroline Wozniacki, who is playing her last event and last years finalist Petra Kvitova, who dropped just the one game against Katerina Siniakova. Coco Gauff once again beat Venus in straights. I always feel for Venus in defeat, her last four slams have seen her lose early to Coco twice and Svitolina twice. Rough draws when you look at the bigger picture. We know Coco already has that big-game mentality. Venus was as gracious ever in defeat saying how well Coco has played in both matches. Gotta love Queen V! Class act, as is Coco. She always looks starstruck when shaking hands with Venus at the net.
We move to day two.
Andy Del Potro