MELBOURNE, January 14, 2019
Two-time defending champion Roger Federer opened his Australian Open campaign in Monday’s night session when he defeated unseeded Denis Istomin from Uzbekistan 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena.
It was Federer’s seventh win over Istomin in as many meetings between the two. The encounter lasted one hour and 57 minutes. The Swiss maestro will take on Daniel Evans of Great Britain, who beat fellow qualifier Tatsuma Ito of Japan, in the second round.
A third successive crown in Melbourne would see Federer win the 21st Grand Slam of his career and close the gap on third-placed Steffi Graf on the all-time list of major triumphs. It would also be his 100th Tour-level title, making him the second man after Jimmy Connors to win 100 titles.
Opelka wins battle of the giants
Reilly Opelka continued his good run of form. The 21-year-old US-American, who closed out the 2018 season with back-to-back titles on the ATP Challenger Tour in Knoxville and Champaign, edged out No. 9 seed John Isner in the battle between two of the tallest men on the tour.
Isner, who stands at 2.08m (6’10’’), was in the rare position of being shorter than his opponent, with Opelka being 3 cm taller at 2.11m (6’11’). Opelka fired 40 aces and won 7-6(4), 7-6(6), 6-7(4), 7-6(5) to secure his first Grand Slam main draw match win in just under three hours of play. He will meet Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano for a place in the third round.
De Minaur delights home crowd
Eight of the 12 Australian men to start the main draw in Melbourne were in action on Monday, led by Australian No. 1 and newly-crowned Sydney champion Alex de Minaur. This year sees the most Australians begin the men’s singles here since 2001, and all will be hoping to end the 43-year wait for a home champion at the Australian Open. De Minaur delighted the home crowd with a 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 win over Portugal’s world No. 103 Pedro Sousa.
Kyle Edmund reached the semi-finals last year but the British No, 1 has fallen at the first hurdle in 2019 against two-time semi-finalist Tomas Berdych.
The experienced Czech, unseeded at a major for the first time since 2005, won 6-3, 6-0, 7-5 in double quick time against Edmund, who has struggled with his fitness in the early weeks of the campaign.
Wozniacki and Kerber advance
In the women’s draw, defending champion Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark booked her second round spot with a 6-3, 6-4 win against Alison van Uytvanck from Beligum.
Later in the afternoon on Rod Laver Arena, No. 2 seeded German Angelique Kerber showed a solid performance, celebrating a 6-2, 6-2 win over Slovenia’s Polona Hercog.
“It’s a really special court, a really special place for me,” Kerber said. “It’s where it all started for me, it’s where I won my first Grand Slam … Every time I walk on this court I have such great memories.”
Next up for Kerber will be Brazilian qualifier Beatriz Haddad Maia.