The first Grand Slam of the 2014 tennis calendar, the Australian Open started today at Melbourne Park and runs until 26th January. British hopes in the mens singles competition lay with fourth seed Andy Murray who finished as runner-up in last years tournament. Murray, who has just returned to competitive play after back surgery last September, kicks off his campaign tomorrow in round one against Japan’s Go Soeda.
British number one Murray on the practice courts ahead of this years event (source: http://www.ausopen.com)
After finishing as runner-up three times at Melbourne Park in 2010, 2011 and last year, Murray is looking to claim the Australian Open crown this year to add to his Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon and the US Open. Defending champion and 2nd seed Novak Djokovic started his challenge for this years title today beating Slovakian Lukas Lacko 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-1 and is hoping to win his fourth title at this event. In the other half of the draw, top seed Rafael Nadal will play against Australian Bernard Tomic tomorrow and Roger Federer seeded sixth this year will also be in action against another Australian James Duckworth. Third seed David Ferrer is through to round two after beating Alejandro Gonzalez 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 earlier today.
Laura Robson in action today (source: http://www.ausopen.com)
In the women’s event, both Laura Robson and Heather Watson were in action today flying the flag for Britain. Unfortunately both girls dipped out in round one with 18th seed Kirsten Flipkens becoming the first woman through to the second round when she defeated Robson 6-3, 6-0. Watson lost to 31st seed Daniela Hantuchova after a tough match with a close first set and then winning the second, she lost the third set 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.
There has been more upset in the women’s draw with former Grand Slam champion Venus Williams losing to 22nd seed Ekaterina Makarova from Russia. Unseeded Williams fell at the first hurdle after winning the first set, her serve let her down and she lost the next two 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. Sister Serena is top seed and played Australian Ashleigh Barty in the first round winning convincingly in two sets 6-2, 6-1. Defending champion and second seed Victoria Azarenka is in action tomorrow against Sweden’s Johanna Larsson alongside third seed Maria Sharapova who faces American Bethanie Mattek-Sands in her first round match.
Rod Laver Arena hosts the Australian Open (source:Getty Images from http://www.lta.org.uk)
In the Mens Doubles competition Britain’s Ross Hutchins and Colin Fleming face Australia’s Marinko Matosevic and partner Michal Przusiezny from Poland in their opening tie while Brit Jamie Murray, brother of Andy and his Australian partner John Peers who are fifteenth seeds will compete against all Australian duo Matt Reid and Luke Saville in their first round encounter.