Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open title defence is already running smoothly and Bernard Tomic has shown glimpses of his talent on his way to reaching the second round, albeit via the mid-match retirement of his opponent.
- Djokovic dispensed of Jeremy Chardy in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1, 6-2
- Tomic advanced to the second round via the 3-6, 6-1, 4-1 (ret) result against Yuichi Sugita
- Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova each won their first-round matches
Djokovic, aiming for a ninth men’s singles crown at Melbourne Park and a third straight, showed his class with a 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 win over French veteran Jeremy Chardy on Rod Laver Arena on Monday evening.
Earlier, Tomic was leading 4-1 in the third set when Japan’s Yuichi Sugita pulled out with what appeared to be an abdominal injury during their clash on Court Eight.
Sugita had received treatment for the injury during a medical time out in the third set, and despite playing on for two more games, he eventually signalled to the chair umpire that he could not continue.
The record books will show Tomic, ranked 233 in the world, won 3-6, 6-1, 4-1 (ret).
Elsewhere during the evening session on day one, Tomic’s fellow Australian Lizette Cabrera could only manage to win three games in her 6-2, 6-1 loss to second seed Simona Halep.
Halep will play another Australian, Ajla Tomljanović, in the second round. Tomljanović defeated Japan’s Misaki Doi 6-2, 6-1 earlier in the day.
Ninth seed Petra Kvitova, a finalist at Melbourne Park two years ago, also advanced via a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Belgian qualifier Greet Minnen.
A day after making his feelings about Nick Kyrgios known to the world, Djokovic chose to do his talking with the racquet against Chardy, needing only an hour and 31 minutes to claim victory.
He offered Chardy very few opportunities and appeared headed towards dishing out a “bagel” in the second set when he led 5-0, before the French veteran held serve to save face.
Leading two sets to love, Djokovic methodically completed his assignment in the third. He fired down an ace on match point to move through to the second round in Melbourne for the 15th straight year.
Tomic enjoys rare win
Once ranked 17 in the world, Tomic had to go through qualifying in Doha last month and few observers believed he would make it out of the first round in the men’s main draw.
There were times when the variety of his shot selection against Sugita reminded those watching of the talent he displayed as an 18-year-old when he reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2011.
He employed drop shots at the right moments and used his backhand slice to great effect, although he did get too cute at one stage when an underarm serve failed to catch Sugita unaware.
“It’s a great feeling,” Tomic said at his post-match media conference.
“Am I overly excited? Probably not. It’s good to be back I guess at this level.
“[I] Played some solid tennis in quallies (the qualifying tournament). I’m happy to be here.”
Tomic last made it past the first round at the Australian Open in 2017. He reached the third round that year.
He has not played in the second round of a major since the 2018 edition of Wimbledon.
Tomic’s most recent appearance at the Australian Open was in 2019 when he initiated an ugly spat with Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt.
It will be a tough assignment for the 28-year-old in the second round of this year’s tournament, as he will face either Canadian 11th seed Denis Shapovalov or rising Italian star Jannik Sinner.