Sabalenka routs Seidel; Djokovic, Sinner and Rublev through: Australian Open day one – as it happened | Australian Open 2024

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Right, it is ten past one in the morning in Melbourne, ten past two in the afternoon in the UK, time to switch off after an intriguing first day at the Australian Open. We’ll be back tomorrow with all the latest news from day two – though it will be hard pressed to bring us a better match than Djokovic v Prizmic. All power to 18 year olds, bye!

While all that was uncurling on the Rod Laver arena, over on the Margaret Court arena, former number one and 2024 wildcard Caroline Wozniacki went through 6-2, 2-0 against Magda Linette after the 24th seed and 2023 semi-finalist Linette was forced to retire.

While seventeenth seed Francis Tiafoe beat Borna Coric 6-3, 7-6, 2-6, 6-3.

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After those diametrically opposite matches in the Rod Laver arena, where two 18 years lost to the reigning champions in the most contrasting style imaginable, time to check out the other results round the courts.

Sabalenka, defending champion, is talking: “I’m super happy to be back in Melbourne, last time I had incredible memories from here, so great to be back and incredible atmosphere, I know you guys were cheering for her but thank you so much for staying this late and supporting us

“Life hasn’t changed that much, I still have to work hard for my dreams. It was really amazing that I was able to achieve my goals, I’m just really grateful for al I have in life, playing on this incredible court and hopefully I can stay here till the very very last day.”

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Aryna Sabalenka beats Ella Seidel 6-0, 6-1

Seidel 0-6, 1-6 Sabalenka From 40-0 up, Sabalenka suddenly loses her mojo, over hitting to take the game to deuce. A huge serve into the corner, but then hits long again to take things back to deuce. She’s irritated now and takes it out on a huge serve for advantage again and the game is hers in 52 minutes with an over the shoulder volley. She greets Seidel with a friendly handshake and they both smile. A quick snack, consumed.

Aryna Sabalenka celebrates victory against Ella Seidel. Photograph: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

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Seidel 0-6, 1-5 Sabalenka* (*indicates next server)A huge roar as Seidel wins a point with a nifty cross court nudge, but Sabalenka is hungry. At match point, Seidel blinks back tears again and pulls back to 30-40. Then deuce after Sabalenka misreads a call, and a game as Sabalenka nets! A huge smile from Seidel, a huge smile from the crowd.

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Seidel* 0-6, 0-5 Sabalenka (*indicates next server) From the depths, two super points for Seidel to take Sabalenka to 15-30 on her serve, including a beauty of a cross court backhand. Sabalenka powers through, inevitably, but Seidel finding something from the depths.

Seidel 0-6, 0-4 Sabalenka* (*indicates next server) Seidel bounces the ball repeatedly on her raquet, but she’s getting fewer and fewer first serves in as the game runs inexorably away. With three break points for Sabalenka, she wipes away a few tears. Gets warm applause from the crowd – I don’t know if that helps.

Seidel* 0-6, 0-3 Sabalenka (*indicates next server) Seidel holds a long rally, but a prowling Sabalenka is relentless and goes to 15-15 with a volley on the sprint, and quickly eats up the rest of the game.

Seidel 0-6, 0-2 Sabalenka* (*indicates next server) A mistake by Sabalenka gives Seidel, in white tennis on the rec top and skirt, the first point on her serve. Seidel winning just 21 percent of points on her first serve, and loses the game with a double fault. Poor kid.

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Seidel* 0-6, 0-1 Sabalenka (*indicates next server) Sabalenka flays the ball into the corners, into the T of the tramlines, 40-15 up, but Seidel stays in the game for a minute with a cracker of a cross-court zinger, then a back hand for deuce. But Sabalenka prevails. New balls.

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Seidel 0-6 Sabalenka* (*indicates next server) Seidel looking somewhat overwhelmed here – certainly a more typical 18-year old qualifier than Prizmic. Sabalenka pounces on a second serve for 0-30, Seidel pulls back to 30-30 and then deuce when Sabalenka powers a shot into – almost through- the net. Seidel tosses the ball high, but Sabalenka wins with a volley for the set in just 22 minutes.

Aryna Sabalenka in action against Ella Seidel in the first round on Day 1 of the 2024 Australian Open at Melbourne Park
Aryna Sabalenka celebrates a fast start. Photograph: Robert Prange/Getty Images

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Seidel* 0-5 Sabalenka (*indicates next server) Won at speed, with an ace.

Seidel 0-4 Sabalenka* (*indicates next server) Another break, collected with a passing shot, unbalanced, on the run.

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Seidel* 0-3 Sabalenka (*indicates next server) The queen of the big hitters is quickly 3-0 up, though Seidel hits with considerable ooomf and power, more than you’d expect from her red-headed porcelain doll exterior.

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On the Rod Laver arena, Sabalenka, in pillar box red from her shoes to her dress, has begun her title defence by winning the first two games of the match.

Time for a quick coffee, I’ll be back shortly to watch the reigning champion and number two seed Aryna Sabalenka take on Ella Seidel.

Djokovic speaks on Prizmic: “An amazing player, so mature for his age, handles himself on the court incredibly well. His moment, could easily have been his match as well. He showed great mentality and resilience, made me run for my money tonight. I have many praises, compliments for him.

“I love the way he’s using every inch of the court, comfortable coming in, defending incredibly well. Amazing performance for someone who is 18 years old and never has experience of the big stage and I certainly want to be in his corner so hopefully he will invite me . We are going to see a lot of him in the future.”

Novak Djokovic beats Dino Prizmic 6-1, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4

Djokovic 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4 Prizmic The game starts with another high-quality rally which only ends when Prizmic nets a forehand. A huge Djokovic serve for 30-0, a long lob for 40-0. Prizmic fights back to 40-30 but even he can’t resist for ever and after more than four hours, the longest first-round match Djokovic has ever played, the No. 1 wins with a backhand cross court. A fond, admiring, prolonged handshake and back pat at the net –as the present raises the future. Wow!

The champion and the teenage maestro share a warm embrace after Djokovic’s four-set win.
The champion and the teenage maestro share a warm embrace after Djokovic’s four-set win. Photograph: Andy Wong/AP

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Djokovic* 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 5-4 Prizmic (*indicates next server) Prizmic hits long, then can’t manage a Djokovic drop shot. Both players have run more than four a half thousand metres today. But Prizmic pulls back to deuce and then despite being sent this way and that somehow meets a feathered volley – though sends it wide. Prizmic saves a fourth match point, then holds his serve against all odds when Djokovic nets. We go on.

Djokovic 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 5-3 Prizmic* (*indicates next server) Bang, bang, bang – game to love. Prizmic now serving to save the match.

Djokovic* 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 4-3 Prizmic (*indicates next server) Excellent skills by the ball boy who collects a deflected serve. Even more excellent skills by Prizmic. “Let’s go Dino, Let’s go” chant the crowd at 40-15. And he does. Three back to back games.

Djokovic 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 4-2 Prizmic* (*indicates next server) Prizmic hasn’t given up, and suddenly has two break points on the Djokovic serve, sending him this way and that in a double-figure rally until Djokovic misses. Wins the game, and breaks, with a lucky net cord. He puts his hand up in apology, but starts to reel the set back…

Cheers !

To paraphrase Sherlock Holmes, this appears to be a *three* shirt problem for Novak to solve.


— VoiceOfTheMysterons (@Mysteron_Voice) January 14, 2024

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Djokovic* 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 4-1 Prizmic (*indicates next server) Hymns of exaltation for Prizmic from the commentators, even as he slips away in this final set. A double fault takes him to 30-30, a pin-point cross-court return in the corner gives Djokovic a break point. But Prizmic isn’t done yet and pulls out an ace for a deuce, and a forehand winner means he holds his serve.

Djokovic 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 4-0 Prizmic* (*indicates next server) Djokovic misses a forehand volley, but otherwise motors to a win to 15, sealing things with a booming serve. A eighth game in a row for Djokovic.

Djokovic* 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 3-0 Prizmic (*indicates next server) Djokovic starting to motor, as Prizmic somehow sprints to pick up a drop shot but Djokovic flays past him. Prizmic pulls back with a backhand winner, but nets at 15-40, and again, and suddenly this set and match is running away from him.

Djokovic 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 2-0 Prizmic* (*indicates next server) Djokovic sniffs regally, as Prizmic slips to 30-0 down. 40-0 with a Djokovic passing shot, and, with an imperceptible drop of the shoulders, Prizmic just starts to look slightly beaten. Djokovic clinches the game to go 2-0 up in the fourth.

Djokovic* 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 1-0 Prizmic (*indicates next server) A short breather as Prizmic takes a toilet break but we’re back. Djokovic now mismatched in pale blue shirt and royal blue shorts; Prizmic in a fresher version of the original. A whipping forehand takes Prizmic to 40-30, and earns applause from Djokovic. But Djokovic comes back to deuce and then Prizmic nets a tricky volley to give Djokovic break point, which he pockets after another epic rally and unreal returns from Prizmic.

Djokovic 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3 Prizmic* (*indicates next server) We see, for the first time in the long time, a Djokovic smile. But he loses the first point of his serve as he nets a backhand. Then hits wide with a forehand. But he wants this and is relentless and clinches the set when Prizmic miscues. Djokovic shakes and shakes his fist after clinching a 71-minute third set.

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Djokovic* 6-2, 6-7 (5), 5-3 Prizmic (*indicates next server) At 30-0 up, Prizmic floats his forehand into the net, then misses his first serve. He is, incidentally, wearing a 21st century version of Dunlop green flash. Suddenly Djokovic is 40-30 up and has a break point. After a high-class rally, he wins it after Prizmic hits the net.

Hello David Hardisty! “This just shows how amazing winning 24 Grand Slams is because that is turning up rain or shine, in better or worse physical shape, 24 x 7 = 168 times and beating the person on the other side of the net.” So true!

Djokovic 6-2, 6-7 (5), 4-3 Prizmic* (*indicates next server) Djokovic is complaining about the change in the rules at the Australian Open which lets spectators move around after each game. He immediately goes 30-0 down on his serve, Ivanisevic chews his nails and Marco Panichi, Djokovic’s fitness trainer, releases a European shrug. Two more break points for Prizmic, who tucks his chain in his t-shirt and quietly exhorts himself. Djokovic pulls back with a overhead smash, then an ace. Holds the set, but tough work.

Djokovic* 6-2, 6-7 (5), 3-3 Prizmic (*indicates next server) At the start of this game, 36 unforced errors for a rattled Djokovic, 14 already in this set. Prizmic goes 40-15 down on his serve but saves one break point with an unbelievable down the line shot. And a sensational whippy forehand to bring up deuce. Djokovic isn’t letting this go though and Prizmic hits wide and that’s the break for Djokovic.

Djokovic 6-2, 6-7 (5), 2-3 Prizmic* (*indicates next server) Come on! Djokovic huffing and puffing. I’m sure this is irrelevant, it must be irrelevant, but the last time he lost in the first round of a major was 2006. Three deuces on the Djokovic serve… then a fourth after Djokovic hits just wide. A fifth with a Prizmic laser forehand. A sixth after Djokovic can’t follow up an ace and hits long. Then Djokovic can’t deal with a pin-point Prizmic return who has a second break point… but he misses and we return for a seventh deuce. Djokovic hits long and then nets! Prizmic has the break! He conducts the delighted crowd as a furious Djokovic sits down and throws his towel on the floor.

Back to the Rod Laver arena…. where I just hear the commentator say that Prizmic has won 21 of the 33 rallies over nine. We’re in the third set, where it is one break each, Prizmic levelling after going 2-0 down.

A quick round-up from elsewhere:

Eighth seed Maria Sakkari, who lost in the first round of the last three grand slams, beat Japan’s Nao Hibino in just over an hour, 6-4, 6-1.

Fourth seed Jannick Sinner, one of the chasing pack, beat Botic van de Zandschulp in straight sets 6-4 7-5 6-3.

Matteo Berrettini’s tournament is over already, having to withdraw from his first-round match because of a foot injury. Seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas will instead play Belgian Zizou Bergs.

And smiling fifth seed Andrey Rublev survived both a barracking crowd and a rousing comeback from Thiago Seyboth Wild to clinch a fifth set tie-break and the match: 7-5 6-4 3-6 4-6 7-6 (10-6).

Maria Sakkari celebrates during her first round match against Nao Hibino on Day 1 of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park
Maria Sakkari advances to the second round of the Australian Open. Photograph: Lukas Coch/EPA

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