The opening day of the 2023 Australian Open has been eventful after Nick Kyrgios’ shock decision to withdraw from the event.

But just because Australia’s highest ranked male withdrew doesn’t mean it’s hopeless for the hosts as our stars stood up in an impressive display.

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In the men’s side, Jason Kubler, John Millman and debutant Rinky Hijikata won into the second round.

Kubler’s maiden Australian Open was comparatively easy with a straight sets result, while Millman and Hijikata pulled off epic five-setters.

From Millman, it was a trademark performance, winning a gruelling, backs-against-the-wall stunner against Switzerland’s Marc-Andrea Huesler.

But it was Hijikata’s night as he claimed his first grand slam victory in his second match at a major.

The World No. 169’s one grand slam appearance saw him take a set off Rafael Nadal at last years’ US Open.

But in his maiden Australian Open performance, Hijjikata has come back from two-sets down to claim a 4-6 4-6 6-3 7-6 6-3 win over German Yannick Hanfmann to make the second round of the tournament.

The crowd was right behind him, going nuts throughout and cheering the 21-year-old’s name after the epic come-from-behind.

However, it doesn’t get any easier as his next match will be third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas. Millman will also play seventh seed Daniil Medvedev.

On the women’s side of the draw, Storm Sanders and Talia Gibson were first round casualties but Ash Barty’s protege Olivia Gadecki claimed a straight sets win over Polina Kudermetova.

The tournament’s big guns mainly stayed intact as only women’s 25th seed Marie Bouzkova, 28th seed Amanda Anisimova and men’s 21 seed Borna Coric fell on the first day.

The likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Rafael Nadal, Mevedev, Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff all won through to the second round.

10.17pm – Unknown Aussie wins over the nation

Australian Open fans have found a new favourite after the lowest ranked wildcard for the tournament.

Rinky Hijikata is ranked No. 169 and had just one grand slam match under his belt, an impressive performance where he took a set off Rafael Nadal at last years’ US Open.

But in his maiden Australian Open performance, Hijjikata has come back from two-sets down to claim a 4-6 4-6 6-3 7-6 6-3 win over German Yannick Hanfmann to make the second round of the tournament.

A vocal crowd on Arthur Ashe Stadium went mad for the 21-year-old, cheering for him for the entire four-hour-plus affair.

After Hanfmann’s final shot went long, Hijikata fell to the ground in relief as though he had won the whole thing.

Hijikata has won $330,533 in his career so far but his Australian Open windfall will already go to $158,850 from this event just by making the second round, setting him up for the year.

However, it doesn’t get any easier as his next match will be third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, although likely not on court 8.

9.37pm — World No. 1 survives scare

The woman who inherited the No. 1 mantle from Ash Barty has opened her Australian Open account with a big win.

Iga Swaitek claimed the match in straight sets but came back from a break down late in the second set to claim the victory over Jule Niemeier.

9.12pm – Tsitsipas dominates opener

Stefanos Tsitsipas has claimed a big start to his Australian Open campaign, romping to a 6-3 6-4 7-6 win.

It was a win that gave Tsitsipas everything without letting his French opponent Quentin Halys get too close, surviving some testing service game and including four break points late in the third set.

But it’s a comfortable win for the No. 3 seed.

8.20pm – Aussie veteran does it again

John Millman is into the second round of the Australia Open after winning a trademark gutsy five-set epic over Switzerland’s Marc-Andrea Huesler.

It was another backs against the wall win for Millman, coming from behind to claim the win 6-7 7-5 6-7 6-2 6-3 as he outlasted his 26-year-old rival.

Millman was only handed a wildcard after slipping to world No. 140.

The Aussie veteran is in his ninth Australian Open and six straight, having been as high as No. 33.

He had an injury-riddled season in 2022, winning only nine of 26 matches and dropping as low as 160.

But the crowd was right behind the 33-year-old.

6.10pm – Aussie Kubler wins through

Aussie Jason Kubler is through to the second round after a classy 6-4 6-4 6-4 win over Argentina’s Sebastain Baez.

It’s the first time Kubler has reached the second round of the Australian Open and the World No. 84 will be guaranteed his highest ever career ranking.

4pm – Kyrgios out with injury

In a nightmare for tournament organisers, Nick Kyrgios has pulled out with injury just a day before he was set to play his first round match.

It means Australia enters its home grand slam without its top-ranked male or female players in Kyrgios and Ajla Tomljanovic, who also withdrew with injury on the eve of the tournament.

Kyrgios said he had been feeling discomfort in his knee for the last fortnight and he “did not pull up great” from his exhibition match against Novak Djokovic on Friday.

An MRI showed a small tear in his lateral meniscus and a cyst. He will have arthroscopic surgery on his knee and hopes to return to the court at Indian Wells in March.

“I’m devastated obviously, it’s my home tournament,” Kyrgios said.

3pm – Ballboy takes Nadal’s racquet

There were bizarre scenes during Rafael Nadal’s first round match against Jack Draper when his racquet suddenly went missing during a change of ends.

Nadal could be heard saying: “I need the racquet back, ballboy take my racquet.”

The ballkid appeared to have mistakenly take the racquet Nadal was using away to be restrung.

“That’s a big mistake,” commentator John Fitzgerald said on Channel 9.

Nadal’s racquet was eventually retrieved and he claimed a four set win over Draper, prevailing 7-5 2-6 6-4 6-1.

2.15pm – Collins advances after injury scare

American 13th seed Danielle Collins has advanced to the second round after a three-hour epic against Russian Anna Kalinskaya.

Collins prevailed in three sets, winning 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 after a medical time-out in the first set threatened to derail her tournament early.

The 29-year-old looked to be in serious discomfort as her injured knee was worked on, however she managed to play through the pain to get the win.

12.50pm — Another seed bites the dust

The seeds are falling at the Australian Open on the women’s side of the draw with 25th seed Marie Bouzkova knocked out.

Bianca Andreescu returned after missing the 2022 tournament and easily took care of business as she claimed the 6-2, 6-4 victory to advance into the second round.

12.40pm — Aussie wildcard into the second round

Olivia Gadecki is the first Australian through to the second round of the Australian Open after defeating Polina Kudermetova 7-5, 6-1.

It’s Gadecki’s first ever Grand Slam win and will see her take on Marta Kostyuk in the second round.

The 20-year-old is being guided by Ash Barty during the 2023 campaign and she revealed Barty sent her a congratulatory text message after the victory.

“I actually can’t believe it,” the 20-year-old said.

“I mean, wow. I’m speechless. Such an amazing crowd. Home slam, my first ever grand slam. A girl can only dream,”

She will now face Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk in the second round.

Gadecki almost doubled her career prize money of $175,000 with her first-round win, which earnt her $158,000.

12.30pm — Star in tears after stunning Open upset

Amanda Anisimova has become the first seeded player to be knocked out of the 2023 Australian Open.

The 28th seeded Anisimova fell in straight sets to Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk, 6-3, 6-4.

Before the match officially finished the American was in tears as her hopes of advancing slipped through her fingers.

11.45am — ‘Gorgeous’: Fans approve of new Nike outfit

Tennis fans have given the tick of approval to Nike’s new women’s tennis outfit after Emma Raducanu debuted it at Melbourne Park.

The Melbourne Collection includes a colourful abstract print. Raducanu was wearing the spring slam dress as she made a powerful start against Tamara Korpatsch on 1573 Arena.

“Nike finally seem to have a decent slam kit after ages,” one fan tweeted.

While the tennis podcast added: “This Nike kit is fire.”

“Gorgeous kit,” added another.

11.30am — Blistering starts all over the place

Several players needed less than half an hour to put the first sets of this year’s tournament away.

Coco Gauff came out smoking against Katerina Siniakova to go up 6-1, while Jess Pegula was just as impressive in a 6-2 effort against Jaqueline Cristian.

But in contrast to her fellow Americans, Amanda Anisimova trailed Marta Kostyuk 6-3.

Emma Raducanu, with a strapped ankle, started promisingly against Tamara Korpatsch and leads 6-3.

In the men’s draw, 17-year-old Chinese qualifier Shang Juncheng stole the opening set of Oscar Otte.

10am — ‘Disregarded’ Wimbledon champ’s ugly Aus Open snub

No points and no respect.

That’s been Elena Rybakina’s experience of winning Wimbledon after it emerged the reigning champion of the sport’s most prestigious tournament would begin her Australian Open campaign way out on court 13 at Melbourne Park on Monday.

The 23-year-old Kazakh defeated Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur in the Wimbledon decider last July but earned no points from the event after the ATP and WTA objected to the tournament’s ban of Russian players.

This is just another hit.

“Reigning Wimbledon champ Elena Rybakina got relegated all the way out to the hinterland of Court 13 for her first #AusOpen match,” Racquet Magazine senior editor Ben Rothenberg tweeted.

“I understand there is a saturation of recent women’s Slam champs, to an extent, but has a reigning Wimbledon champ ever been so quickly disregarded?”

He wasn’t the only one perplexed by the move.

Tennis journalist Jose Morgado wrote: “Rybakina at the parking lot vs. Hobart finalist …”

He later added to Rothenberg’s post: “She got totally screwed by the pointless Wimbledon.

“Bad draws and small courts every week.”

American sports reporter Jacob Cersosimo commented: “I have no idea how this happens but this is WILD!”

7.15am — Kyrgios, girlfriend appear to flout Victoria road rules

Nick Kyrgios’ might find himself in hot water after being spotted riding an e-scooter without a helmet in Melbourne on Sunday.

The Aussie tennis star and what appeared to be his girlfriend, Costeen Hatzi, were photographed on Elizabeth St.

Victorian road rules require e-scooter riders to wear approved bicycle helmets.

News.com.au has contacted Victoria Police about the incident.

Kyrgios opens his Australian Open campaign against Roman Safiullin at 7pm on Tuesday night.

7am — Stosur finally ready to put her feet up

Veteran Sam Stosur has announced the Australian Open will be her final tournament, ending a 23-year career in which she won a singles Grand Slam title and seven others in doubles.

The 38-year-old Australian’s greatest moment came when she defeated Serena Williams to win the singles crown at the 2011 US Open, which she described as “the pinnacle” of her career.

This week will mark her 21st Australian Open.

“That was certainly a dream of mine to achieve that, and I did,” she told reporters of her Flushing Meadows triumph. “That’s a moment I’ll never forget.

“I’m very fortunate that I have so many great memories, yeah, from the sport, winning, losing, travelling, on and off the court,” she added at Melbourne Park, where she will play in the doubles with France’s Alize Cornet.

Stosur reached a career-high ranking of four in the world in singles and one in doubles after making her Grand Slam debut at the 2002 Australian Open.

She won four Grand Slam women’s doubles titles, most recently at the 2021 US Open alongside China’s Zhang Shuai, and three mixed doubles titles.

“I didn’t know what I could do,” she said, looking back to her professional debut more than two decades ago.

“I dreamt what I would like to do and I certainly achieved that and way more than what I could have ever imagined. So I can walk away being very proud.”

6.45am — Nadal facing ‘toughest first-round possible’

Rafael Nadal opens his Australian Open title defence Monday feeling vulnerable and against a dangerous young opponent, with women’s top seed Iga Swiatek also facing a tricky encounter as she targets a maiden crown.

The first Grand Slam of the year kicks off at Melbourne Park with the men’s world number one ranking at stake and a new women’s champion set to be crowned after Ash Barty’s shock retirement following her win last year.

Spanish great Nadal, 36, has lost six of his past seven matches, including his opening two this year, ahead of a difficult afternoon clash on Rod Laver Arena against Britain’s in-form Jack Draper.

“Probably one of the toughest first-round (games) possible, being seeded,” said the 22-time Grand Slam winner and top seed. “Young, powerful, growing very, very fast on the ranking, playing well.”

The fast-improving Draper, 21, made the semi-finals of the Adelaide International this week and said he would not be overawed, despite Nadal being an idol.

“I want to go and compete hard and really play well and I want to go and win the match, of course. So that will be the plan,” he said.

Nadal surged to the title last year with a thrilling five-set win over Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, who faces American Marcos Giron on centre court in an evening match.

His run to a first Australian crown since 2009 came in the absence of nine-time champion Novak Djokovic, who is back this year and heavy favourite after missing the 2022 event when he was deported over his Covid vaccination stance.

The 35-year-old Serbian begins on Tuesday against Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena, bidding not just for a 10th title and to equal Nadal’s 22 Slams, but to reclaim the top world ranking.

“I like my chances,” said Djokovic, who is in form, winning at Adelaide last week after ending 2022 with another ATP Finals triumph.

He can return to the top by lifting the trophy. So can Norway’s Casper Ruud and Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, according to the governing body ATP.

World number three Ruud can also become world number one by reaching the final, as long neither Djokovic nor Tsitsipas win the title.

If none of those scenarios play out, the reign of Carlos Alcaraz, who is not playing in Melbourne due to injury, will continue.

Tsitsipas opens his campaign against France’s Quentin Halys on Margaret Court Arena, with Ruud in action on Tuesday.

Top seed Swiatek is the clear favourite having dominated women’s tennis following the retirement in March last year of Barty.

The Pole secured eight WTA titles in 2022 and became the first woman in six years to win two Grand Slams in the same season — at Roland Garros and New York.

With retired great Serena Williams and two-time Melbourne winner Naomi Osaka also missing, it is almost certain that there will be a new name on the Daphne Akhurst trophy.

The only former titleholders in the draw are out-of-sorts Sofia Kenin, who won in 2020, and Victoria Azarenka, whose second Australian Open triumph was a decade ago.

Swiatek begins on Monday against Jule Neimeier, the German world number 68 who reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last year.

6.30am – Day 1 Order Of Play (All courts from 11am, all times AEDT)

Rod Laver Arena

Katerina Siniakova (CZE) v [7] Coco Gauff (USA)

Yue Yuan (CHN) v [6] Maria Sakkari (GRE)

Not before 2:30pm

[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) v Jack Draper (GBR)

Night session from 7pm

[1] Iga Swiatek (POL) v Jule Niemeier (GER)

Marcus Giron (USA) v [7] Daniil Medvedev (RUS)

Show Court 1

[3] Jessica Pegula (USA) v Jaqueline Cristian (ROM)

[10] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) v Pedro Martinez (ESP)

Sofia Kenin (USA) v [24] Victoria Azarenka (BLR)

Night session from 7pm

[3] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) v Quentin Halys (FRA)

[10] Madison Keys (USA) v Anna Blinkova (RUS)

John Cain Arena

Kyle Edmund (GBR) v [15] Jannik Sinner (ITA)

Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) v [15] Petra Kvitova (CZE)

Not before 3:30pm

Sebastian Baez (ARG) v Jason Kubler (AUS)

Night session not before 6pm

Vasek Pospisil (CAN) v [6] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN)

Aussies in action

Kia Arena, Match 4

Xinyu Wang (CHN) v Storm Hunter (AUS)

Court 3, Match 2

Talia Gibson (AUS) v Clara Burel (FRA)

Court 3, Match 4

John Millman (AUS) v Marc-Andrea Huesler (SWI)

Court 8, Match 1

Polina Kudermetova (RUS) v Olivia Gadecki (AUS)

Court 8, Match 4

Yannick Hanfmann (GER) v Rinky Hijikata (AUS)

— with AFP

Read related topics:Ash BartyNick Kyrgios

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