Angelique Kerber last took to a tennis court for the Australian Open, which feels about a lifetime ago, but she looked as though she was turning back the clock with a solid straight-sets win over Ajla Tomljanovic. Kerber did not play the domestic tournaments in Germany and opted out of both Lexington and the New York edition of Cincinnati, but this did not dent her form, having reunited with Torben Beltz.
Top seed and 2016 finalist Karolina Pliskova overcame a little resistance in the first set before romping over the finish line for a straight sets win. The Czech was busy playing domestic tournaments and restart exhibitions to keep her eye in, but looked strangely flat in Cincinnati, with an opening loss, so this will calm the nerves a little as she still looks for a maiden Slam win.
Novak Djokovic’s unbeaten streak continued as he cruised into the second round, where he will meet Kyle Edmund. He is the nailed on favourite to lift a fourth crown, and it would put him ever closer to catching Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the Slam title department.
He said after his match: “Do I want to keep the streak going? Of course, I do. Am I thinking about it as a priority number one every single day? No. It’s there, and of course it’s an additional motivation for me. It actually fuels me to play even stronger, play even better, I think bring the right intensity every match.”
Naomi Osaka closed the proceedings on the first day with a long battle against Misaki Doi, coming through in three sets. Osaka had to withdraw from the Cincinnati final with a hamstring injury.
She said, in her post-match press-conference: “I would just say, like, the turnover time was quite quick. I don’t even know what day it is. What day was yesterday? I hit for a little bit yesterday. I hit a little bit on Sunday. I didn’t really move around or anything. The leg felt relatively good. Like, it was still a little bit sore, but it felt relatively good today.
“But then during the match, it slowly got a little bit worse. Yeah, I just feel like there’s some recovery time that I’m lacking that I wish I could get back. For the most part I’m managing.”
No. 9 seed Diego Schwartzman lost to Cameron Norrie from two sets up. Norrie has lost a few heartbreakers in Slams and famously came back from two sets down on his Davis Cup debut in Spain, against Roberto Bautista Agut.
On the women’s side, Coco Gauffis still only 16 but the level of expectation on her continues to rise at Slams. She started the tour restart well but has faltered in her last two matches, losing in Cincinnati to Maria Sakkari, and then losing to the tricky Anastasija Sevastova.
With the news that Benoit Paire had been withdrawn for testing positive for COVID-19, a lot of confusion reigned about who had been in contact with him, what was happening to them, and not an awful lot was very clear.
Kristina Mladenovic was clearly not happy with the USTA’s bubble within a bubble which could limit what areas and equipment she can have access to, in order to continue to compete.
Mladenovic: I’m not allowed to do fitness, do any public bubble thing. Not allowed anything anymore. Not allowed to any other facilities that have been put in place for the players. It’s mentally very tough. I still have to find a way & discuss with USTA.. https://t.co/jvTz7lJ8iR
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