It was another great day for the Australian players at the Australian Open. Seven players advanced to round 2. That makes it 12 across the opening two days, the most since the early 90s.
Match of the day involving an Australian goes to Alexei Popyrin who defeated (13) David Goffin (BEL) 14 – 3-6, 6-4, 6-7(4), 7-6(6), 6-3.
Popyrin saved four match points along the way. Goffin did make it easier for him in the 10th game of the fourth set when he served two double faults in a game that saw Goffin with two match points.
“I was near the brink of losing, so I think when coming back from match points, it really gives you confidence for the upcoming rounds, and also the way I played was really pleasing to me,” Popyrin said.
“All the pre-season work that I did physically and on my game, you know, it all paid off today.”
Goffin also held two match points in the fourth set tiebreaker when he took a 6-4 lead.
Asked to rate where the win rated in overall career victories, Popyrin’s feelings were clear. “Number one. That was number one by far,” he smiled.
“Especially against who I played, a top-20 player, top-10 player by level, and also to save match points against him and beat him in five sets when he’s known as like probably one of the fittest guys on tour. To beat him in five sets was really pleasing.”
Next up for Popyrin is South Africa’s Lloyd Harris, an opponent that he will have a good chance against.
Australia’s top ranked male Alex de Minaur had a comfortable win over USA’s Tennys Sandgren.
The Australian was holding comfortably while Sandgren had a 7:16 game that he eventually held for 4-4, but the 12 game lasted just over eight minutes and saw de Minaur break to take the opening set 7-5.
After a 55 minute first set, de Minaur raced through the next two set in 26 minutes and 27 minutes to claim the match against a two time Australian Open quarterfinalist.
Wildcard Christopher O’Connell claimed his first ever win over a top-50 opponent and his first win at the Australian Open when he defeated Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff, the world no. 37.
Both players held serve throughout the opening set only to see O’Connell race to a 6-0 lead in the tiebreaker. He closed that out 7-2.
In the second set there were again no breaks of serve. O’Connell again controlled the breaker and took a commanding two sets to nil lead.
O’Connell finally got a break of serve in the second game of the third set and then raced away with the set to secure a 7-6(2), 7-6(5), 6-1 victory.
“That’s why we play tennis, to play Grand Slams,” O’Connell said after his breakthrough victory. “It’s just awesome. (An) unbelievable feeling.”
“I thought it was a pretty tough draw again,” O’Connell said. “But there could have been worse draws, there could have been easier draws. I mean, all matches are going to be tough no matter what player I get put up against. I was fortunate enough to watch a little bit of him in the ATP Cup.”
Thanasi Kokkinakis won his first match at an Australian Open since 2015. After some tough years where he fought to overcome injury or illness it was great to see the 24-year-old Australian claim the win.
Kokkinakis won convincingly 6-4 6-1 6-1 victory against world No.97 Soonwoo Kwon on Court 3 in an evening match.
“It’s been very, very challenging the last few years,” Kokkinakis admitted. “It’s (been) a massive, massive journey.”
Determined to put those memories behind him, Kokkinakis served 19 aces and hit 30 winners in his impressive 94-minute victory.
“I was just stoked. Very happy. Massive amount of relief, and, yeah, it was a bit emotional,” Kokkinakis explained. “The people around me know the ups and downs what I have been through mentally, just trying to get to the starting line of the tournament.”
He earns a match against the no. 5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.
“It’s going to be exciting. Obviously a phenomenal player, one of the favorites for this tournament,” Kokkinakis said of facing the Australian Open 2019 semifinalist.
“I just can’t wait to get out there. I’m not sure what court we’ll play on, I’m sure it will be a pretty big one. I’m hoping there is a decent crowd … and hopefully it’s pretty loose.”
Ash Barty, my tip for the title, had a very convincing win over the 26-year-old from Montenegro, Danka Kovinic. Barty winning the match 6-0, 6-0.
“I wanted to go out there and almost take the sting, take the pepper out of the match a little bit and get it on my terms as much as possible right from the get-go and make it feel like she had a real mountain to climb,” said Barty, who ultimately lost only 10 points for the match.
“I think that was probably the most pleasing overall is that right from the start I set the tone and was able to run away with it.”
Sam Stosur claimed her first round one singles victory at an Australian Open since 2015. The 36-year-old Australian first competed in the AO singles back in 2002 and has reached the fourth round twice.
The match against Destanee Aiava saw nine consecutive breaks of serve before Stosur finally held in the tenth game to take the first set 6-4.
In the second set Aiava held for the first time in the opening game, only to be broken in the third game. Stosur did not drop serve again to take the match 6-4, 6-4.
I watched Stosur lose her round one match on the same court in 2020. Back then she hit a lot of mistimed shots. Against Aiva she seemed to have better rhythm despite not playing that well last week.
“There were certainly some ups and downs, and some shots I wish were better, but that’s part and parcel with playing tennis,” Stosur said.
“Thankfully serving for the set I was able to get myself out of a bit of a hole with some good serves,” Stosur said.
“I’m really happy to get through tonight’s match,” Stosur said. “Very happy with the way I played and (to be) moving on to the second round for the first time in a while, so it’s exciting for me.”
Astra Sharma did a repeat of her loss last week in the Melbourne Sumer Series. She started strongly and faded as the match went on.
Sharma did however fight back late in the third set and held a break point. Unluckily for Sharma that point ended when she hit out by 2mm.
Sharma let slip a golden opportunity to advance to the second round losing to Japan’s world no. 76 Nao Hibino 2-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Maddison Inglis got an early break against the defending champion Sofia Kenin and was leading 3-1. Kenin broke back immediately.
The American broke to lead 6-5 before serving out the first set.
Kenin broke in the first game of the second set and then consolidated the break to lead 2-0. Inglis broke back to see the score at 3-3 before getting broken again.
When serving for the match at 5-4 Kenin faced a break back point at 30-40, she saved that and six points later she sealed the win.
Daria Gavrilova set up an all-Australian round two matchup against Ash Barty when she defeated Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-1, 7-5.
Gavrilova, a wildcard, broke in the first game of the opening set. She held for 2-0. The Spaniard held her next service game before losing the next two.
In the second set Gavrilova broke in the fourth game to lead 3-1. This time Sorribes Tormo hit back with a break for 2-3.
Gavrilova broke again to lead 5-3 but when serving for the match she was broken again. In the 12th game of the set Gavrilova got another break to claim the match.
“I felt like the whole match was on my racquet,” Gavrilova said. “I was dictating most of the time, and I probably just went for too much in the second set.”
“I always enjoy testing myself against other Aussies,” Barty said.
“Obviously Dasha and I, we’ve been Fed Cup team-mates for a long time now. We know each other well. Tyz (coach Craig Tyzzer) obviously coached Dasha for a couple of years, and we spend a lot of time together.”
Gavrilova admits she has “a lot of respect for Ash”.
“She’s an incredible player, her tennis smarts are incredible,” Gavrilova noted.
“I haven’t played Ash in ages. It’s going to be really fun. I don’t know what court we are going to be on, but I love the big show and I’m sure a lot of people are going to come out and watch. So I’m pretty excited.”
After missing the 2020 Open due to injury the likeable Aussie is into the second round for the fifth time at the Australian Open. Gavrilova reached the fourth round in 2016 and 2017.
The final Australian to take part in day two action was wildcard Arina Rodionova.
In the opening set Brengle broke Rodionova in the second game, and the sixth game to then hold to take the set 6-1 against the 31-year-old Australian.
Both players broke serve several times in the second set before Brengle won 6-2 to seal the match.
Day 2 results for Australians at the Australian Open
(21) Alex de Minaur 23 d Tennys Sandgren (USA) 50 – 7-5, 6-1, 6-1. Rd 2 v Pablo Cuevas (URY)
Jordan Thompson 52 lost to (24) Casper Ruud (NOR) 27 6-3, 6-3, 2-1 Retired.
(WC) Alexei Popyrin 114 d (13) David Goffin (BEL) 14 – 3-6, 6-4, 6-7(4), 7-6(6), 6-3. Rd 2 v Lloyd Harris (RSA)
(WC) Christopher O’Connell 120 d Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 37 – 7-6(2), 7-6(5), 6-1. Rd 2 vRadu Albot (MOL)
(WC) Aleksandar Vukic 195 lost to (19) Karen Khachanov (RUS) 20 – 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-6(2), 6-4.
(WC) Thanasi Kokkinakis 266 d Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 97 – 6,4, 6-1, 6-1. Rd 2 v (5) Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)
(WC) Li Tu – lost to Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 63 – 6-7(1), 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-4.
(1) Ash Barty 1 d Danka Kovinic (MNE) 77 – 6-0, 6-0. Rd 2 v Daria Gavrilova
(WC) Sam Stosur 112 d (WC) Destanee Aiava 218 – 6-4, 6-4. Rd 2 v Jessica Pegula (USA)
(WC) Astra Sharma 129 lost to Nao Hibino (JPN) 76 – 2-6, 6-3, 7-5.
(WC) Maddison Inglis 130 lost to (4) Sofia Kenin (USA) 4 – 7-5, 6-4.
(WC) Arina Rodionova 169 lost to Madison Brengle (USA) 83 – 6-1, 6-2.
(WC) Daria Gavrilova 452 d Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 62 – 6-1, 7-5. Rd 2 v (1) Ash Barty.