There were no real surprises on the opening day as the first grand slam of the year – the Australian Open called as the Grand Slam of the Asia Pacific got under way at Flinders Park in Melbourne. Ever since the 32 seeding system has been adopted by the ATP almost 15 years ago, the top players do not have to worry about facing players ranked 17 to 32 till the third round. Gone are the days of John McEnroe loosing to Paul Annacone and Boris Becker loosing to Richey Reneberg in the first round of U.S. Open 1986 and 1994 respectively.
It was little surprise then that Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Tomas Berdych and Kei Nishikori all advanced with straight sets wins over their opponents. The seventh ranked Nishikori had a surprisingly easy 6-4,6-3,6-3 win over the veteran German Phillipe Kohlschreiber, while the defending champion Novak Djokovic opened up with a relatively simple 6-3,6-2,6-4 against the promising Korean Hyeong Chung on the Rod Laver Arena.
The Serbian was followed by the four time champion Roger Federer who strolled through in 70 minutes against the little known Georgian Nikolai Basilashvili 6-2,6-1,6-2. His projected quarter-final opponent Tomas Berdych accounted for the lone Indian in the men’s draw – Yuki Bhambri as he came through 7-5,6-1,6-2 after struggling briefly in the first set.
The highest seed to fall was the seventeenth seeded Frenchman Benoit Paire who lost in three tie breaks to the American Noah Rubin 6-7(4),6-7(6),6-7(5), while the veteran Croat Ivo Karlovic, seeded 22nd had to retire due to a left knee injury, in the third set, after loosing the first two sets to the Argentine left hander Frederico Delbonis.
There were wins for the other seeds in action in the top half of the draw, Marin Cilic, Giles Simon, David Goffin, Grigor Dmitrov, the Spaniards Roberto Bautista Agut and Guillermo Garcia Lopez, the hometown favourite Nick Kyrgios, Andreas Seppi and the Austrian teenager Dominic Thiem. The last seeded player to advance was the 2008 runner up Frenchman Jo Wilfred Tsonga who beat the 2006 runner up Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 6-4,4-6,6-4,6-2.
The following is the list of matches involving the seeds on Day 2 in the bottom half with my pick mentioned first:-
Andy Murray (2) v. Alexander Zverev
Rafael Nadal (5) v. Fernando Verdasco
Stanislas Wawrinka (4) v. Dmitry Tursunov
David Ferrer (8) v. Peter Gojowczyk
Bernard Tomic (16) v. Denis Istomin
Milos Raonic (13) v. Lucas Pouille
John Isner (10) v. Jersey Janowicz
Kevin Anderson (11) v. Rajeev Ram
Gael Monfils (23) v. Yuichi Sugita
Fabio Fognini (20) v. Giles Muller
Feliciano Lopez (18) v. Daniel Evans
Steve Johnson (31) v. Aljaz Bedene
Jack Sock (25) v. Taylor Fritz
Mikhail Kukushkin v. Joao Souza (32)
Jeremy Chardy (30) v. Ernest Gulbis
Victor Troicki (21) v. Daniel Murzoh De La Nova
Meanwhile in the ladies section of the draw the defending champion Serena Williams came through a difficult first round encounter against Camilia Giorgi 6-4,7-5. Also advancing in straight sets were last years loosing finalist Maria Sharapova, Agnieska Radwanska and Petra Kvitova, Carla Suarez Navarro and U.S. Open finalist Roberta Vinci.
Former World number Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark led a host of lower seeds who bowed out on Opening day. Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan came from a set and a break down to outlast the sixteenth seed 1-6,7-6(3),6-4.
The 2011 U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur, the 2012 French Open finalist Sara Errani, the promising American Sloane Stephens, Andrea Petkovic, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Anna Karolina Schmiedlova were the seeds to fall. The Swiss Belinda Bencic, former U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and Kristina Mladenovic though came through in two easy sets.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy.You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]