Novak Djokovic returned to the Australian Open almost 700 days since successful the title for a ninth time and continued precisely the place he left off on the Grand Slam he has dominated with a commanding first-round win on Tuesday.
After common Melbourne adversary Andy Murray conjured some outdated magic to cease final yr’s semi-finalist Matteo Berrettini in a five-set basic, Djokovic was cheered on to Rod Laver Area to finish a manic day with scorching warmth and drenching rain.
Disadvantaged of a tilt at a record-extending 10th title final yr after being deported on the eve of the event for not having a Covid-19 vaccination, the Serbian confirmed his class as he glided previous Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena 6-3, 6-4, 6-0.
Welcomed like a returning hero by the night crowd, many sporting Serbian flags, the 35-year-old Djokovic was imperious all through and rattled off the third set for the lack of 4 factors to seal an 83rd win on the event.
“It was an unbelievable atmosphere,” fourth seed Djokovic mentioned on courtroom. “Thanks for the welcome and the reception that I could only dream of. Very happy to be back.”
It was removed from routine earlier, nevertheless, as five-time runner-up Murray rolled again the years and saved a match level to beat Berrettini 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7(7), 7-6(10-6) in a close to five-hour slog and former world quantity two Alexander Zverev edged Peruvian fortunate loser Juan Pablo Varillas in one other five-setter.
Organisers had their work lower out as excessive warmth pressured a three-hour stoppage on the skin courts. As evening fell, a storm introduced heavy rain, leaving 11 matches unfinished, together with 9 which didn’t even begin.
Beneath the Rod Laver roof, second seed Ons Jabeur was given a scare by Tamara Zidansek earlier than successful 7-6(8), 4-6, 6-1.
Coming off an enormous pre-season, Murray channelled his halcyon days of 2016 as he raced to a two-set lead towards the 13th-seeded Berrettini, who beat him on the US Open final yr.
Berrettini stormed again although and missed a straightforward backhand on a match level earlier than Murray sealed victory within the deciding tiebreak with a merciless internet twine.
“I just got a bit lucky there at the end with the net cord,” mentioned 35-year-old Murray. “Right now I’m just unbelievably happy, just proud of myself.”
Twelfth seed Zverev had an enormous scare towards world quantity 103 Varillas however the German steadied himself to win a four-hour dogfight 4-6, 6-1, 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-Four on the Margaret Court docket Area.
It was Zverev’s first win since tearing ankle ligaments in final yr’s French Open semi-final towards Rafa Nadal.
High 10 seeds Andrey Rublev and Taylor Fritz eased into the second spherical earlier on Tuesday with Russian Rublev beating former finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 as temperatures nudged 36 levels Celsius.
Girls’s seeds Aryna Sabalenka and Caroline Garcia earlier loved the relative cool on Rod Laver Area earlier than the rising mercury despatched followers scurrying for shade as organisers invoked the Excessive Warmth Coverage and halted play on outdoors courts with out roofs.
Fifth seed Sabalenka, who opened the yr by successful the Adelaide title with out shedding a set, stored up her high quality kind with an emphatic 6-1, 6-Four victory over Tereza Martincova.
Fourth seed Garcia, who received the WTA Finals final season, was equally convincing with a 6-3, 6-Zero win over Canadian qualifier Katherine Sebov.
Garcia will face one other Canadian in 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez, who beat Alize Cornet 7-5, 6-2, her first win in the primary draw at Melbourne Park.
The 26th seed Elise Mertens was one other winner. The Belgian outlasted Spain’s former Melbourne finalist Garbine Muguruza, who was cramping earlier than shedding 3-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-1.