Tennis – Australian Open, Day 1: Horror start for German professionals

Oscar Otte was hard on himself, Daniel Altmaier could hardly console his opponent’s praise: The first day of the Australian Open initially left a lot of frustration among the German professionals. Grand Slam debutante Eva Lys, Jule Niemeier, Yannick Hanfmann and Tamara Korpatsch also tried unsuccessfully.

Niemeier challenged title favorite Iga Swiatek, fought hard for every point, but again it wasn’t quite enough: it wasn’t the Germany number one’s hoped-for revenge against the dominating of the Polish tour. Niemeier lost in the Australian Open first round match 4:6, 5:7 and couldn’t better the sobering German record on the first day of the tournament.

“Jule had his chances,” said national coach Barbara Rittner Eurosport-Mic after the 1:59 game: “Overall a good game from Jule. At the end of the day, a tic was missing.”

Otte had been hard on himself beforehand and Daniel Altmaier found it difficult to console himself with his opponent’s praise, later Yannick Hanfmann also gave up on a possible victory. Grand Slam debutants Eva Lys and Tamara Korpatsch also tried unsuccessfully on Monday.

On Tuesday, among other things, comebacker Alexander Zverev’s game against Peruvian Juan Pablo Varillas is on the agenda – with basketball icon Dirk Nowitzki as a prominent lucky charm. “I think he will be there for my match,” said the Olympic champion, whose match was brought forward to 4:30 a.m. Central European time.

Australian Open: Oscar Otto struggling with the first round

Otte could then have had a bad night, with his performance severely affecting him. “I felt like trash on the pitch and failed to get a decent comeback,” the 29-year-old said after his 2:6, 4:6, 7:6 ( 7: 2), 5: 7-loss against Chinese Shang Juncheng, only 17 years old.

Daniel Altmaier fought back for a long time in the Kia Arena, then the 24-year-old had to drop US Open semi-finalist Frances Tiafoe after a 3: 6, 3: 6, 7: 6 (7: 5), 6:7 (6:8)-defeat finally praise. Hanfmann clearly led, but he left home hero Rinky Hijikata back at 6:4, 6:4, 3:6, 6:7 (5:7), 3:6 in 4:25 hours. Lys lost to the Spaniard Cristina Bucsa 6:2, 0:6, 2:6, Korpatsch had to admit defeat against the Briton Emma Raducanu, winner of the US Open 2021, 3:6, 2: 6.

“Today didn’t fail for me because of tennis, but because of circumstances. I’m just a human being and not a robot,” said Lys, who had fought until qualification: “I was very excited. The first time at a Major was an incredible experience for me.” She wants to learn from “very, very important experience”.

Australian Open: Rafael Nadal moves into second round

Niemeier was mostly at eye level in exchanges with Swiatek, but lacked conviction in the crucial moments that are needed for an upset against a world number one.

Defending champion Rafael Nadal finally cleared his first difficult hurdle safely. The record Grand Slam champion with 22 titles beat in-form Briton Jack Draper 7:5, 2:6, 6:4, 6:1. Nadal now meets American Mackenzie McDonald in the second round. Last year the top star, now 36, won the title in the first highlight of the year.

“If you take into account all the circumstances of the last six months, it was a good start,” said Nadal, who lost both games in preparation for Melbourne. But at the start of the major, the father of the family was there again. He remains with two defeats in the first round of his career at Grand Slam tournaments. He lost to Belgian Steve Darcis at Wimbledon in 2013 and to fellow countryman Fernando Verdasco in Australia seven years ago.

Australian Open: Pegula and Gauff send signals

Americans Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff, on the other hand, sent signals to the competition from the start. Pegula needed just 59 minutes to beat Romania’s Jaqueline Cristian 6-0, 6-1. Gauff also didn’t miss a beat against Katerina Siniakova and won 6:1, 6:4.

Pegula and Gauff are still in pursuit of their maiden Grand Slam title and part of the expanded group of contenders in Melbourne. Pegula recently caused a stir with a clean straight-set victory over world number one Iga Swiatek in the United Cup. So far, the 28-year-old has finished in the quarter-finals at the latest in major tournaments.

Gauff, ten years younger than her compatriot, made her first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros in 2022 but was clearly beaten by Swiatek.

Australian Open, Day 1: the best matches at a glance

player 1 player 2 result/time
Jessica Pegula (USA/3rd) Jaqueline Cristian (ROU/143.) 6-0, 6-1
Emma Raducanu (GBR/75.) Tamara Korpatsch (GER/74.) 6:3, 6:2
Kateřina Siniaková (CZE/48.) Cori Gauff (USA/7th) 1:6, 4:6
Yueyuan (CHN/119.) Maria Sakkari (GRE/6th) 1:6, 4:6
Iga Świątek (POL/1st) Jule Niemeier (GER/68.) 6:4, 7:5
Madison Keys (USA/10th) Anna Blinkova (RUS/72.) 6:4, 3:6, 6:2
player 1 player 2 result/time
Oscar Otte (GER/74.) Juncheng Shang (CHN/194.) 2:6, 4:6, 7:6 (7:2), 5:7
Daniel Altmaier (GER/91.) Frances Tiafoe (USA/17th) 3:6, 3:6, 7:6 (7:5), 6:7 (6:8)
Rafael Nadal (ESP/2nd) Jack Draper (GBR/40.) 7:5, 2:6, 6:4, 6:1
Yannick Hanfmann (GER/128.) Rinky Hijikata (AUS/169th) 6:4, 6:4, 3:6, 6:7 (5:7), 3:6
Vasek Pospisil (CAN/94.) Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN / 7th) 6:1, 6:7 (4:7), 6:7 (3:7), 3:6
Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE/4th) Quentin Halys (FRA/64th) 6:3, 6:4, 7:6
Marcos Giron (USA/60th) Daniil Medvedev (RUS/8th) 0:6,, 1:6, 2:6

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