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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Michael Butler

Australian Open day one: Medvedev, Swiatek and Norrie through – as it happened

Daniil Medvedev in action during his first round match against Marcos Giron.
Daniil Medvedev in action during his first round match against Marcos Giron. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters


That’s your lot from day one of the Australian Open. Lots to digest, please do so below. See you on Tuesday (or late Monday evening, depending where you are the world) for day two! Cheers!

And here is Tumaini Carayol’s preview for Andy Murray’s first-round match:

Medvedev beats Giron 6-0, 6-1, 6-2!

It’s late now in Melbourne, and the crowds have largely melted away. At 6-0, 6-1, 5-2, Medvedev has match point on his serve, but double faults! Medvedev is unhappy with a member of the crowd, and turns his ire towards the umpire. What a strange time to start getting shirty. A moodiness that is reminiscent of last year. It doesn’t matter much to the result, Medvedev closes it out to move into the second round and a meeting with home favourite John Millman.

Madison Keys beats Anna Blinkova 6-4, 3-6, 6-2!

After all those breaks of serve, Keys manages to string a couple of holds together and closes out match point with a mesmeric backhand down the line, right in the postage stamp. The American lets out a huge scream in relief. That was a real topsy turvy game, and Blinkova looked dangerous.

Madison Keys shows her relief after defeating Anna Blinkova.
Madison Keys shows her relief after defeating Anna Blinkova. Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters


Giron is, belatedly, starting to play. Obviously it’s far too late in the day, but it takes Medvedev five games to earn his first break point of the third set, and then, with the scores at 3-2, Giron earns a break point of his own! Medvedev prevails on both occasions though. The Russian has fallen slightly below the sky-high standards of the first two sets, but still turns the screw when it’s needed. He leads 4-2 and is just a couple of games away from the most comfortable of first-round victories.

Marcos Giron stretches for a forehand.
Marcos Giron stretches for a forehand. Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images


Seven breaks in the row in the match between Keys and Blinkova! It seems neither wants to serve, but the Russian will be the next to try at 2-2 in the third set.

Medvedev canters to the second set. He leads Giron 6-0, 6-1. This is verging on embarrassing. One set to go.

Blinkova takes the second set against Keys! One set all, then, and heading in a decider, where Keys has taken an early break!

Let’s not get too excited – a looooong way to go – but if all the matches go according to their seeding, Medvedev will meet Nadal in the quarter-finals. With world no 1 Carlos Alcaraz not here because of injury, things are definitely quite open in the male singles draw.

Novak Djokovic is the outright favourite, despite being ranked fourth here, and understandably so. But I’ve got a feeling about Medvedev this year.



Giron has won a game! Ironic cheers from the Melbourne crowd, which is somewhat cruel. But also justified, I guess. It’s on serve in the second set: the American trails 0-6, 1-2.

Meanwhile, Keys is struggling against Blinkova, just as she was in the first set. She trails 2-5. The Russian will serve for the second set, and take us into a third.

Medvedev takes the first set against Marcos Giron 6-0. It’s been a brutal display of baseline hitting. Giron hasn’t played that poorly. But Medvedev looks in sensational nick. That set took just 37 minutes.

Félix Auger-Aliassime beats Vasek Pospisil 1-6, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3), 6-3!

The younger Canadian moves into the second round.

Felix Auger-Aliassime plays a backhand.
Felix Auger-Aliassime on his way to the second round. Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images


A brief pause in play in the Keys-Blinkova match as ballboys and ballgirls remove the various bugs around the court. In the past, the tournament had some sort of hoover to remove the bugs, but this year a dustpan and brush seems to suffice.

Welcome to Australia.

Squash! Photograph: James Gourley/Shutterstock
Meanwhile, back in 2021.
Meanwhile, back in 2021. Photograph: Dean Lewins/EPA

Félix Auger-Aliassime is in a scrap with Canadian compatriot Vasek Pospisil. After the veteran won the first set, Auger-Aliassime has roared back and looks on track to close this out in four sets. At 5-3 up in the fourth, the youngster will serve for the match.

From 1-4 and 0-30 down, Madison Keys has won five games in a row to clinch the first set over Anna Blinkova. What a turnaround for the No 10 seed!

Anyway, Medvedev is already a break up on Giron. He leads 2-0 in the first set after finally converting his sixth break point chance.

Personally, I find Medvedev a great character. He’s happy to play the villain, and his game is fascinating. How somebody can be 6ft5in and move like that, I have no idea.

Medvedev had an interesting relationship with the fans in Australia on his way to the final with Rafa Nadal last year, something he addressed earlier this month, admitting it was “not smart”.

The Russian was also quite spiky in his post-match interview with Jim Courier, following his win over Kyrgios.

“Sorry, I can’t hear you. Show some respect for Jim Courier. Let him speak please,” Medvedev added. “If you respect somebody, at least respect Jim Courier.”

Cheers followed. The US great was quick on the uptake. “I think they are saying ‘siuuu’ which is a soccer, football, thing … I don’t think they are booing you.”

We’re into our final pair of matches on the show courts in Melbourne. Daniil Medvedev plays Marcos Giron, who is insistent on showing off his considerable biceps on Rod Laver.

Meanwhile, on Margaret Court, there is another USA v Russia match-up: Madison Keys is up against Anna Blinkova. The No 10 seed is down two breaks, 4-1 in the first set!

Madison Keyshits a return to Anna Blinkova.
Madison Keyshits a return to Anna Blinkova. Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters


With Barty retired, and both Ajla Tomljanović and Nick Kyrgios withdrawing from this tournament through injury, Olivia Gadecki is helping to fill the void at the top of Australian tennis. Here is Emma Kemp’s report on her first-round win over Russia’s Polina Kudermetova – Gadecki’s maiden match in the main draw of a slam.

If you want to read more on the Swiatek-Barty relationship, have a read of the former’s essay in the Players Tribune. Entitled ‘The Story of a Polish Introvert’, she speaks candidly about the moment she found out that Barty was retiring at the age of 25, which moved Swiatek up to No 1 in the world.

I remember calling my dad when I found out that Ash was retiring.

It was March. We had an apartment in Miami for the Open because I had been staying in hotels for the first few months of the year. So I was in the apartment, and I think I was watching Parks and Recreation or something when my psychologist, Daria, came in and said Ash announced her retirement. I didn’t understand at first. I was like, What? How is that possible?? And then I started crying.

There was some confusion about what was going to happen because I had only been world No. 2 for three days. So I called my dad, and it was the middle of the night in Poland. I never call him, we always text on Messenger or WhatsApp, so he thought something bad was happening. But I think he was so sleepy that he wasn’t really processing. He didn’t get it. He was just like, Yeah, okay great.

But I was sobbing. I couldn’t stop crying. Honestly, it didn’t really have that much to do with potentially moving up in the ranking. It might sound strange, but I was so confused and shocked that Ash was 25, and she was retiring.

I always had this image in my mind that you retire when you’re 32, and your body can’t cope anymore. I also felt like Ash has the best tennis out there, hands down. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I didn’t know if she was unhappy or something. But then I watched the video on Instagram, and I understood.

Swiatek speaks on court after her win:

Besides being really nervous, I really enjoyed it. You guys [the crowd] are really loud and I loved it. It’s so different to last year, or two years ago, with Covid. I know Rafa had a full house, but I’m waiting for it.

I’m pretty happy to get through this match. It was really tricky.

She also pays tribute to Ash Barty, who has had a big effect on her career. She looks close to tears as she talks about the recently retired Australian.

Swiatek beats Niemeier 6-4, 7-5!

A very similar ending to Tsitsipas’s win: Swiatek turned it on when she needed to, wearing Niemeier down with some brutal forehands to get the break of serve and convert her first match point. Niemeier holds her composure to shake the hand of Swiatek and the umpire but thrashes her racket through the air in frustration as she trudges back to her chair. She knows that was a missed opportunity.

Delight for Iga Swiatek as she books her spot in the second round.
Delight for Iga Swiatek as she books her spot in the second round. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images


Some lovely sunset pics coming out of Melbourne at the minute. It’s a long way from gloomy Guardian HQ, here in the UK.

Iga Swiatek of Poland amd Julie Niemeier do battle with the Melbourne skyline behind the Rod Laver Arena.
Iga Swiatek of Poland amd Julie Niemeier do battle with the Melbourne skyline behind the Rod Laver Arena. Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Just as Tsitsipas did in his match, Swiatek rises to the occasion just when she needs to – breaking Niemeier with ease to get back on serve in the second set. Swiatek hasn’t looked like the tournament favourite here, but showed a real winning mentality there. Niemeier just can’t live with her when the Pole is in full flight. Swiatek is motoring now, and claims her next service game to love, to move 6-5 up. Suddenly this set has a completely different complexion! Niemeier must serve to stay in the match.

A slightly easier passage for Cam Norrie, who took a 7-6, 6-0, 6-3 victory over French teenager Luca Van Assche to move into the second round. The 11th seed has never gone past the third round at the Australian Open but after a semi-final last year at Wimbledon and a fourth-round performance at the US Open, things are looking up for the South-African born Brit.

Cameron Norrie plays a shot
Cameron Norrie on his way to victory. Photograph: Jaimi Joy/Reuters


Back to Rod Laver we go, and Swiatek remains in a ding-dong tussle with Niemeier. The world No 1 won the first set 6-4 but trails 5-3 in the second set, and is making tough work of her latest service game. After nearly seven minutes, she finally holds, and at 5-4, Niemeier will serve for the second set.

Tsitsipas beat Halys 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (6)!

Halys is playing out of his skin! He races to a 3-0 lead in the tie-break but Greek gets a mini-break back with a forehand down the line. The players change ends with Halys at 4-2 up, his tournament very much on the line here at two sets down. And this is where Tsitsipas turns it on, thundering a serve down the T and then lobbing his opponent to tie things up at 4-4. Errors are creeping into Halys’s game and Tsitsipas earns his first match point … which the Frenchman does brilliantly to save, volleying a forehand winner on the run. Six-all, then but now Tsitsipas has a match point on his own serve, and makes no mistake, setting up forehand winner with another mighty serve down the T.

Tsitsipas wins 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (6), but what a last set that was. Great stuff.

A victory roar from Stefanos Tsitsipas.
A victory roar from Stefanos Tsitsipas. Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters


Drama at Margaret Court Arena! Tsitsipas leads 2-0 in sets but faces three set points in the third, with Halys 6-5 and 0-40 up. But Tsitsipas roars back to save all three set points, the last of which was a very ballsy second serve to set up a backhand winner. Halys rips a fierce backhand down the line to set up a fourth set point, whipping the crowd into a frenzy, but Tsitsipas somehow gets back to deuce, crashing a backhand onto the Frenchman’s shoelaces, when it looked certain that Halys would close out the game and the set. But that’s what the best players do: win the big points, and change the momentum. Into a tie-break we go!


No surprise to see the most raucous atmosphere feature a home favourite. John Millman has just come through a five-set epic with Marc-Andrea Hüsler, coming from 2-1 down to win the fourth and fifth set 6-2, 6-3. Tough on Hüsler, who also went out in five set at both last year’s US Open and Wimbledon.

Niemeier, however, has started the second set strongly, breaking Swiatek! We’ve got a proper match on our hands here! It’s 2-1, with the German to serve.

Julie Niemeier reaches for a forehand.
Julie Niemeier reaches for a forehand. Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images


Huge relief for Swiatek, as she closes out the first set against Niemeier, who saved one set point and then binned an easy volley into the net to gift the Pole the set.

Here’s a bit of reaction to Rafa Nadal’s thrilling win over Britain’s Jack Draper. He will meet Mackenzie McDonald in the second round after the American’s 7-6 (5), 7-6 (1), 1-6, 6-7 (10), 6-4 win against countryman Brandon Nakashima. Nadal had this to say in his post-match interview:

“Last year was without a doubt one of the most emotional tournaments of my tennis career. I’m super happy to be back here in Australia one more time. I know it’s my 19th season on the professional Tour.

I played against one of the toughest opponents possible in the first round, being seeded. He is young, he has the power and I think he has a great future in front [of him]. We are going to see him playing a lot of years here, having very good results.”

Britwatch: Harriet Dart is out, after falling in the first round to Jil Teichmann. The 26-year-old ran the Swiss close in the first set, losing it 7-5, but rather collapsed in the second, with Teichmann wrapping things up quickly 6-1.

Swiatek is making hard work of her first set against Niemeier. The Pole has just saved two break points to keep things on serve. It’s currently 4-3 to the world No 1.

In the second round, Tiafoe will meet Shang Juncheng, who made history here today, becoming the the first man from China to win an Australian Open match in the Open era. Sounds barely believable, doesn’t it? The youngest player in the men’s singles draw, Shang beat Germany’s Oscar Otte 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-5 to secure a victory.

With the victory, Shang also became the first 17-year-old to record a men’s singles Grand Slam win since Carlos Alcaraz at the 2021 Australian Open.

“After hearing this, I think it’s quite a big accomplishment,” Shang said. “Looking up to Carlos... he’s the best player in the world right now. Just watching him play on the court really inspires me, inspires the young players. So to do this, it’s very special for me.”

Outfit of the day so far goes to Frances Tiafoe, who came through in four sets against Daniel Altmaier of Germany.

Eeeeeesh! Photograph: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

Elsewhere, veteran Stan Wawrinka is in a right battle with Alex Molcan. The 2014 champion here is 2-1 up in sets against Alex Molcan, with the play on serve in the fourth.

Stan Wawrinka tosses to serve in his match against Alex Molcan of Slovakia.
Stan Wawrinka tosses to serve in his match against Alex Molcan of Slovakia. Photograph: Kelly Defina/Getty Images


Tsitsipas swept to the opening set 6-3 against Halys, but knows he’s in a match, 2-2 in the second set. But the Greek has been dominant with the ball in hand, losing just five points on serve in the entire match. And one of those was a double fault.

What qualifies as a success for Raducanu at the moment? She is still preposterously young, having just turned 20, and just being fit enough to play here after her recent injury problems is something of a win. There would be no shame to losing to Gauff but the hard court is her favourite surface so she will still be confident playing her American rival.

I’ve posted Tumaini’s report of Raducanu’s win already, but it’s worth flagging who the Brit will play in the second round: Coco Gauff. The pair have never met and Gauff has looked sharp, winning the ASB Classic in New Zealand (where she was No 1 seed) just over a week ago.

Niemeier races into a 30-0 lead before Swiatek claws things back to 40-30. A thundering forehand from the German punishes a weak second serve to get to deuce but a couple of sloppy errors gift the opening game to the world No 1. I would say Swiatek is looking a little tentative but still very early days.

Jule Niemeier thumps a forehand to Swiatek.
Jule Niemeier thumps a forehand to Swiatek. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters


Slightly off topic, but this is very good. Casper Ruud, one of the world’s best players, looks like a little boy here. Nadal won this French Open final in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3, 6-0.


Swiatek’s match has been slightly delayed, but the world No 1 is coming out onto the court now. He’s playing Jule Niemeier, who is a big-serving German. They actually played in last year’s US Open round-of-16, and Niemeier won the opening set 6-2. Swiatek battles back to win, of course, on her way to beating Ons Jabeur in the final.

Tsitsipas is underway, playing the unseeded Quentin Halys. It’s about a 5km hop to the beach from the Margaret Court Arena to St Kilda Beach, and the Greek is strutting around the gaff in what appears to be some excellent board shorts. It’s currently on serve, Tsitsipas is 2-1 up and already hitting some monstrous forehands down towards the Frenchman.

Stefanos Tsitsipas reaches for a backhand.
Stefanos Tsitsipas reaches for a backhand. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images



Welcome to the first day of Australian Open! You join us for the evening session. There’s already a lot to catch up on, and plenty more to come, so much like an Ivo Karlovic service game, there’s no time for dallying. Let’s get straight into it.

Here’s what you may have missed so far. It’s already been quite the day.

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