With three of the British women on court at the start of the day, it was the British No. 2 Katie Boulter who made the most solid start. While others were being broken left and right, Boulter was the one that was doing the breaking, steaming past Ekaterina Makarova without the loss of a game to take the first set.
The second set saw Makarova rally a little, actually breaking Boulter before being pegged straight back. The Russian broke Boulter to love to level things up. Another brace of breaks came and went, before a long service game for Makarova, where she had to fend off four break points to hold on, as the pair fought their way up to a tie-break.
Here, a little bit of history was made as the first match of the 2019 Australian Open to feature the new deciding set 10-point tie-break system – not that Boulter (or indeed Makarova) remembered that with the Russian challenging a point on what would have been a “traditional” set point.
In a battle of the qualifiers, Dan Evans kept his cool in the blistering heat of the day with a straight sets win over Tatsuma Ito. The Japanese player was struggling throughout with a knee injury, but despite having the trainer out a couple of times to tape and already strapped up knee, the Japanese player hung in there in the third set, pushing Evans to a tie-break.
Evans’ reward is a match-up against defending champion Roger Federer.
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Then after being schooled on Rod Laver Arena by her idol Maria Sharapova 6-0 6-0, Harriet Dart left the court in tears and needed a lot of time to gather her thoughts before coming in to press. She was able to take some comfort that she had come through qualifying in a Slam and made her first main draw outside of Wimbledon, and it will have been a big lesson for her, but it has been a solid start of the year with some dogged qualifying wins.
There was less good news for Heather Watson, who struggled to get going against the very consistent Petra Martic, downed in straight sets 6-1 6-2. The doctor was out for Watson a couple of times in the match, and in her post match press conference, she tearfully admitted she does struggle at times of stress, and that tennis was not particularly enjoyable for her at the moment.
No. 13 seed Kyle Edmund had been troubled at the start of the year with a knee injury and was very much out of sorts against a returning Tomas Berdych to the tour, after his issues with a back injury. Berdych was very much in control throughout the match easing through in straight sets 6-3 6-0 7-5.
Edmund said, after the match: “Not nice losing, of course. It was like a one-sided defeat, as well. Clearly not what I wanted. Not a lot of fun.
“But for me it just shows where I’m at at the minute, my level and stuff, and how much and where I have to improve. Yeah, just very much just got to let sort of the defeat settle, kind of get back to work and look at where I’m at at the minute with my game, try to get better basically.
“I’m not 100%. But I’m a lot better than where I was. I’m working to try and get there. It’s always my choice whether I walk onto court or not.”
Cameron Norrie was unable to capitalise on his recent win over ATP Next Gen’s Taylor Fritz, and indeed perhaps his run to the Auckland final took its toll. He finished on the Saturday and had a chance to hit on Sunday, with the American triumphing 6-3 7-6(6) 6-2.
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