14 Jan 2014

Mixed fortunes for home favourites at Australian Open

Match Report

Photo: Paul ZimmerLleyton Hewitt (AUS)

As the temperatures at Melbourne Park soared beyond 42 degrees on the second day of action there was disappointment for Australia’s big names in the men’s draw but Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios showed that there is hope for the future.

Lleyton Hewitt and Marinko Matosevic were both on the end of gruelling five-set defeats to Andreas Seppi and Kei Nishikori respectively, while Bernard Tomic was able to last just one set against world No. 1 Rafael Nadal before a groin injury forced him to retire.

“Unfortunately, I couldn't compete.  It was very difficult for me to say sorry to the crowd,” said Tomic in press after the match.

“It's tough playing Rafa with two legs, let alone one. Nothing I could do. I felt really good the last few weeks the way I was playing, very confident… I just felt like, if I continue playing, who knows, something worse can happen.”

The 18-year old Kyrgios demonstrated composure beyond his years in victory over Benjamin Becker in the first of an Australian double on Show Court 3 to end the day on a high for the home crowd.

Last year’s Junior Australian Open Champion was followed on court by Kokkinakis, who defeated Igor Sijsling 76(4) 06 76(3) 62 to progress to the second round on his Grand Slam main draw debut where Nadal now awaits.

“The crowd was unreal today. It started off without many people because it was so hot. Lleyton's match finished and a few came over,” the world No. 570 remarked. “I was on Show Court 3. I'm trying to imagine what Rod Laver would be like.”

Elsewhere in the men’s draw Gilles Simon ground out a marathon 67(4) 64 36 63 1614 victory over Germany’s Daniel Brands in a match lasting over four hours 30 minutes.

The No. 18 seed was forced to dig deep to overcome his big-serving opponent saving multiple match points in the final set as his opponent converted on just two of 25 break points for the match.

Other top seeds in action included Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who all took victory in straight sets while Juan Martin del Potro bounced back from dropping the first set of his match against Rhyne Williams to advance.

The biggest name to fall was American John Isner, last week’s champion in Auckland, who was forced to retire when two sets down to Martin Klizan citing an ankle injury.

Three seeds were defeated in the women’s draw as Sorana Cirstea, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Kaia Kanepi departed.

However, there was safe passage for defending champion Victoria Azarenka, who saw off Johanna Larsson 76(2) 62, as well as a straight sets victory for 2008 champion Maria Sharapova against Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

Agnieszka Radwanska was given a scare as Yulia Putintseva stole a set off the No. 5 seed but the four-time quarterfinalist came through to remain alive in the draw.

The ITF produces men’s match notes at the Australian Open. The latest notes can be seen by clicking here.