The Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of 2021, is finally underway in Melbourne. After several postponements and numerous issues with quarantining players due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s finally about the tennis.
In front of significantly smaller crowds than usual (due to the pandemic, 30,000 fans a day are being allowed entry as opposed to 80,000), the big names cruised to victory. There were a few upsets of ranked players, with No. 23 Angelique Kerber and No. 10 Gael Monfils both losing to unranked players. And after her disappointing first-round exit in 2020, 40-year-old Venus Williams redeemed herself with a decisive win.
Djokovic, Osaka, Williams advance
The big names all nailed down wins in Round 1. No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic strolled into Round 2 with a dominant 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 win over France’s Jérémy Chardy. The whole thing took 91 minutes and Djokovic barely broke a sweat. In his postgame interview, he declared his love for Rod Laver Arena.
“There’s an ongoing love affair between me and this court. Hopefully, I can have many great matches with these kinds of performances.”
Speaking of dominant, No. 3-ranked Naomi Osaka defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets. Her 6-1, 6-2 win took just 68 minutes, and after the match she expressed how thrilled she was to be playing in front of fans again.
“I was really nervous coming into this match and knew it was going to be tough. I’m just really happy to see people in the stands. It’s been really lonely in New York.”
Serena Williams also had no problem dispatching Laura Siegemund. Her 6-1, 6-1 victory took 58 minutes. Perhaps it’s because she was itching to watch the end of the Super Bowl.
Also advancing was No. 3 Dominic Thiem, Nick Kyrgios and Frances Tiafoe. No. 8 Bianca Andreescu’s first-round match was her first in 16 months, and she won 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
Venus heads to round 2
Venus, the elder Williams sister, was looking for redemption after a disappointing 2020 tournament. She was defeated in the first round by 15-year-old Coco Gauff last year. This year there was no phenom standing in her way. Williams beat Kirsten Flipkins 7-5, 6-2 in 92 minutes.
Williams is still winning at the Australian Open 23 years after her debut, and she’s continuing to inspire the new generation of dominant female tennis players like Naomi Osaka.
Super Bowl LV from Yahoo Sports: