With the men's singles at the first Grand Slam event of the year now off and running in Melbourne at the Australian Open, there were few surprises in the early matches of the first round, but several matches did go the distance.
Spanish number three seed Rafael Nadal showed few signs of the rustiness that has characterised his recent performances, winning relatively comfortably 6-3 6-2 6-2 against the Russian Mikhail Youzhny. He will be joined in round two by his close rival and number two seed, Roger Federer who similarly required only three sets to clinch his first round match over world number 47 Yen-Hsun Lu, with the 1,0001st win of his illustrious career.
Britain's Andy Murray (seeded 6) survived a break in the third set before clinching his match against Yuki Bhambri on a tie-break, while the man he could be facing in the last-16 (should they make it that far) Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria was also a convincing winner over Germany's Dustin Brown. Tomas Berdych also survived a tie-break during his straights sets win over Colombian Alejandro Falla as the number seven seed marched on.
Several of the matches required five sets before being decided, which could begin to sap the energy of the players involved come the later stages of the tournament, should they progress that far. Local favourites, the Australians Nick Kyrgios and James Duckworth were both required to battle through the full five sets before they could claim victory over Argentinian and Slovenian opponents, respectively.
Two seeded players were early casualties in the first round. Ernests Gulbis of Latvia (seeded 11 here) fell in five sets to Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis in a topsy-turvy match that saw both players in command at different stages. Tommy Robredo of Spain (seeded 15) also failed to make it past round one as he was forced to retire in the first set of his match with Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
There was also bad news for fans of the enigmatic Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro, who had seemed in reasonable shape after winning two matches in Sydney last week following a long lay-off after wrist surgery, but suffered a recurrence and decided to pull out of the Australian Open as a precaution. #Celebrities #Tennis