Some of the world’s top players faced very little resistance on Day 1 of the 2021 Australian Open on Monday, with more favorites preparing to join the action for their first-round matches on Tuesday.
Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, and Naomi Osaka each recorded victories in straight sets to open the tournament in Melbourne.
Djokovic, Serena Off to Fast Starts
Djokovic began his Australian Open title defense against Jermey Chardy, and lost just six games in a 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 rout. The Serbian legend is seeking his 9th career title at Melbourne Park, and will take on American Frances Tiafoe in the second round.
“It’s an ongoing love affair between me and the Rod Laver Arena,” Djokovic said after his win. “Obviously, I wanted to start off well, first match, night session. It’s very special to be back on one of the most special courts around the world. It’s my most successful court, every time I step on this court I relive these memories.”
|Australian Open Odds – Featured Day 2 Matches (via FanDuel Sportsbook)|
|No. 4 Sofia Kenin: -3000||Maddison Inglis: +1550|
|Laslo Dere: +1600||No. 2 Rafael Nadal: -8000|
|No. 1 Ashleigh Barty: -1700||Danka Kovinic: +1080|
|No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas: -2300||Gilles Simon: +1500|
|Kevin Anderson: +200||No. 9 Matteo Berrettini: -245|
Serena Williams lost her opening game to Laura Siegemund, but ran off 10 straight after that on her way to a dominant 6-1, 6-1 win. Williams comes into the Australian Open as the No. 10 seed, and is still seeking a 24th Grand Slam title to match Margaret Court’s record. The 39-year-old American hasn’t won a major title since 2017.
“This was a good start – vintage Rena,” Williams said. “I’ve had a ton of pressure, and now I don’t feel it anymore. It’s like a huge relief. I think I was just looking at it all the wrong way in the past, and I feel totally different about it now.”
Osaka Aiming for Second Australian Open Title
The third-seeded Osaka put together nearly as dominant a performance, defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 6-2. While Pavlyuchenkova came in as one of the top-ranked unseeded players, she was little match for the 2019 Australian Open champion.
“Physically, I feel like everyone – their bodies are shocked, coming in and playing so suddenly after such a long break,” Osaka said after her win. “I think we’re all getting used to it, and everyone is just happy to be here.”
Tuesday’s slate of matches will see more big names join the action. Women’s No. 1 seed Ashleigh Barty takes on Danka Kovinic, while men’s No. 2 Radael Nadal battles Laslo Dere. Nadal comes in as a -8000 favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, despite the fact that he is not at 100 percent.
“It’s true that for the last 15 days I have been suffering with the back,” Nadal told reporters on Sunday. “So here we are. I tried a little bit today to serve again. Well, I’m doing everything what’s possible to be ready for it. That’s the only thing that I can say. Today, I am still hoping to keep improving and hope to be ready for it.”
Those looking for a high-profile, competitive first round match will want to keep an eye on the clash between No. 9 seed Matteo Berrettini (-245) and Kevin Anderson (+200). While Anderson is unseeded, the two-time Grand Slam finalist has ranked as high as No. 5 in the world during his career.