Mystery surrounds the fitness of Australian Open favourite Novak Djokovic after he cancelled a practice session scheduled for Monday evening.
Djokovic was due to practice at 7pm on the opening day of the tournament, but reports surfaced about 90 minutes prior that the session had been canned.
It casts serious doubt over another of the tournament’s drawcards after Nick Kyrgios withdrew earlier on Monday.
Djokovic battled through a hamstring issue during the Adelaide International.
There are suggestions this is the second practice he has cancelled in as many days.
One fan said they would “want a refund” if the Serbian was to withdraw and not face Roberto Carballes Baena on day two.
7.30PM STAR RESPONDS TO ‘CHOKING’ QUESTION
Australian Open contender Jessica Pegula has called out critics who label sportspeople as chokers.
Quizzed about her opinion on the term “choking” in sport, the American star said it was “very harsh” and often used in the wrong context.
“I think it’s just because you get nervous. Some days there’s no rhyme or reason. Some days you can feel like you’re a little tense and for some reason you can feel like maybethe momentum is shifting in a match and you’re just putting a lot of pressure on yourself to do the right thing,” she said.
“I think maybe instead of thinking clearly you’re more panicking a little bit instead of trying to think of the big picture.
“But, I mean, to be honest, to me it’s nerves, I think. It’s just nerves. It’s just maybe “choking” leans more to you’re letting your nerves kind of get the best of you more than you’re playing.”
She said an opponent lifting their own level was often misunderstood as their rival choking.
“Sometimes it’s people I think that don’t play sports kind of just assume everyone is always choking with a lead. As a tennis player, I can call out matches, somebody would be, Oh, yeah, they totally choked. I’m like, Not really. That girl played really well.
“Completely raised her level and the other person wasn’t really doing anything wrong. I think there is a little bit of a misconception, where I think people usually that haven’t playing the sport and sitting and watching it’s very easy to say, Oh, they’re choking, they’re choking.
“When really I think it’s more of a momentum shift and maybe more nerves and just how you’re kind of handling those nerves.”
7.10PM AUGER-ALIASSIME BLOWN AWAY IN FIRST SET
The Netflix curse really isn’t a thing — right?
The No.6 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, one of the stars who appears on the new Netflix series Break Point, has been blasted off the court by compatriot Vasek Pospisil in the opening set, 6-1.
For what it’s worth I watched the Kyrgios episode on the train in today and thought it was good viewing.
Hopefully I’m not cursed now as well.
7PM DOC PREDICTS LENGTHY LAYOFF FOR KYRGIOS
After his shock withdrawal on day one of the Australian Open, Nick Kyrgios is expected to spend up to three months on the sidelines…
6.32PM RAFA PROGRESSES
Defending champion Rafael Nadal is through to the second round after overcoming a cramping Jack Draper in four sets.
The young Brit struggled through the third and fourth sets, allowing the No.1 seed to take control after he had levelled the Round 1 match by claiming the second set.
Nadal prevailed 7-5 2-6 6-4 6-1 but you sense his rivals will be grinning after a less-than-convincing performance against Draper.
AUSSIE WATCH: KUBLER THROUGH TO SECOND ROUND
Jason Kubler has reached round two of the Australian Open for the first time after a 6-4 6-4 6-4 victory over Sebastian Baez.
“I’m just so happy that I’m able to perform in front of my home country,” Kubler said.
“I had a little run last year in the mixed doubles but hopefully this year I can do something in the singles.”
6PM RISING CHINESE STAR’S HISTORIC WIN
A 17-year-old has made Chinese tennis history with the country’s first Australian Open singles triumph of the Open era.
Juncheng Shang is the youngest player in the men’s draw but showed little sign of nerves as he dispatched Germany’s Oscar Otte in four sets on Monday, 6-2, 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-5.
Shang has jumped more than 50 places in the world rankings while in Melbourne after successfully navigating qualifying.
“I think it’s huge for Chinese men’s tennis. You know, we have had really good players from the women’s side but not really big names in the men’s,” he said.
“So I think we are very lucky that I’m part of it, and I’m very lucky that I’m part of this team. Hopefully we can do something big in the future.”
His next opponent will be
Remember the name. Plenty of stars have withdrawn from the Australian Open but maybe one of tennis’ next superstars could emerge this week?
5.50PM WHAT KYRGIOS WITHDRAWAL MEANS FOR DAY TWO
Alex de Minaur to John Cain Arena …
See the full changes below.
5.40PM FANS FREAK OUT AS BALL ‘EXPLODES’
An autograph tennis ball has exploded in the crowd on day one at Melbourne Park.
Pictures show a member of the crowd holding a large tennis ball which “exploded” during Francis Tiafoe’s match against Daniel Altmaier at Kia Arena.
One fan tweeted: “This kid in the stands at the tiafoe-altmaier australian open match just had a large basketball-sized tennis ball explode and it sounded like, well, an explosion on the court. Glad everyone was ok.”
Another said he hoped the ball — which retails at $40 — would be replaced.
5.25PM KYRGIOS’ REPLACEMENT ANNOUNCED
American Denis Kudla will enter the Australian Open main draw as a ‘lucky loser’ after Nick Kyrgios’ withdrawal was announced earlier today.
The 108th-ranked Kudla lost to Oleksii Krutykh in qualifying but has been given a reprieve after Kyrgios pulled out of the tournament due to injury.
READ MORE HERE
5PM BALLBOY PINCHES NADAL’S RACQUET
Rafael Nadal has done many things in his career.
Winning a tennis match without a racquet would be a new one though.
In a bizarre moment during the defending champion’s first-round match against Jack Draper, a ballkid took the wrong racquet to be restrung.
Vision shows a confused Nadal pointing to his bench where the racquet should have been and saying: “It’s this one for the stringer, not that one. And I need the dampener and everything.”
“Goodness me, that’s a big mistake,” commentators noted.
“And he knows. He knows the tension, he sequence he wants to use his racquets in.”
Nadal followed up with: “The ballboy take (sic) my racquet.”
4.40PM RISING BRIT HAS NADAL ON ROPES
Defending champion Rafael Nadal isn’t going to have it all his own way against 21-year-old Brit Jack Draper.
Nadal claimed the first set 7-5 but Draper battled back into their first-round encounter with a 6-2 second set.
Is Nadal in danger or can be bounce back? The tournament can ill afford to lose another drawcard another Nick Kyrgios’ withdrawal due to injury.
4:00PM KYRGIOS OUT OF 2023 AUSTRALIAN OPEN WITH INJURY
Nick Kyrgios has withdrawn from this year’s event, citing a knee injury that kept him out of the United Cup.
Kyrgios, who played on Friday in an exhibition against Novak Djokovic, did not recover well enough in time to compete at this year’s tournament.
Kyrgios’ physio telling reporters at a press conference that he had a small tear in his lateral meniscus.
2:30PM TIAFOE WINS THE FASHION STAKES
Call off the competition, Frances Tiafoe has won it.
The 16th seed has just come on court in the most elite kit we have seen at the Australian Open in recent years.
It is glorious.
“It’s a lot going on, but I feel like that’s Frances Tiafoe,” compatriot Coco Gauff told ESPN
“He has a lot going on. He’s never quiet, he’s always loud. I think the outfit represents that. Loud and proud, and I think that’s Big Foe.”
2:00PM – SHE’S SCREAMING’: TEARS AND TANTRUMS ROCK AUS OPEN
The Australian Open has been hit by multiple instances of early drama, with emotions running high in the hot conditions at Melbourne Park.
Marie Bouzková was far from impressed with her first round opponent Bianca Andreescu, calling on the umpire to step in over the level of noise the Canadian slam winner was making.
Bouzková approached the umpire late in the second set and was picked up by the on-court microphones saying, “I’m hitting the ball and she’s screaming.”
Andreescu, who won the 2019 US Open, quickly apologised to her opponent.
Meanwhile, it was a day to forget for number 28 seed Amanda Anisimova who was easily defeated by Marta Kostyuk.
An emotional Anisimova was seen crying on court before the match had even finished.
1:05PM – ‘$1800 PER MINUTE’: SMASHED STAR’S $100K PAYDAY
Jaqueline Cristian’s dollars-to-time ratio will take some topping for the first-round losers after banking $1800 per minute in her 6-0 6-1 loss to Jessica Pegula.
Broken down further, the Romanian pocketed almost $3500 per point she won … and $106,250 per game, given she held serve just once in the trouncing on Margaret Court Arena.
Round 1 losers at the Australian Open bank $106,250, which jumps to $158,850 in round 2 and $227,925 in round 3. The singles champions bank an eye-watering $2.975 million.
But tennis can be a tough sport to make ends meet for the lowly-ranked players with Kiwi Kiranpal Pannu revealing he made just $6771 in prize money last year … dwarfed by his $34,500 in expenses.
Cristian, 24, however should have little trouble paying the travel bills.
She reached the second-round of last year’s Australian Open on her way to $287,783 in 2022 and has already pocketed $709,067 in her short career. The No. 161 player in the world is yet to win a title.
12:39PM – GADECKI BECOMES FIRST AUSSIE INTO SECOND ROUND
Australian Olivia Gadecki has become the first local hope through to the second round of her home tournament.
Gadecki defeated Polina Kudermetova in straight sets 7-5 6-1.
Ranked 200 in the world, Gadecki needed a wildcard to qualify for the Open but has now secured at least a $158,850 payday.
She will play world number 58 Marta Kostyuk in the second round.
12:30PM: TOP SEED RACES THROUGH OPENER
Ready, set, go!
The first results of the Australian Open are in, with one of the biggest names in the women’s draw blitzing through her opening round match.
Number three seed Jess Pegula was the first to secure victory, smashing Jaqueline Cristian in straight sets 6-0 6-1. She needed just 59 minutes to complete the smack down.
Meanwhile, number seven seed Coco Gauff doesn’t look to be far behind. She won through her opening set against Kateřina Siniaková 6-1 and is well on top in the second.
11:45AM – ‘IT’S WORSE’: NADAL’S MAJOR AUS OPEN GRIPE
Defending Australian Open champion Rafa Nadal has complained that the balls being used at this year’s tournament are “worse quality” than before making his style of tennis particularly difficult.
The Spaniard coming into the first slam of the year with a less than ideal record having lost six out of his last seven competitive singles matches.
And the draw has been less than kind to the 36-year-old who opens against British No. 3 Jack Draper this afternoon.
Knowing that any chance of defending his title will be a tough battle, Nadal says he will have to change his tactics because of the balls.
“No, the speed of the court, I think, (is) not (a) big difference. The ball, yes,” he said.
“I don’t know. They say (it) is the same, but the ball is worse quality, without a doubt.
“We can’t talk about that anymore. It’s what we have. We need to play with it.
“I think it’s a ball that doesn’t get the same spin as usual. After a couple of hits, the ball loses the pressure. It’s more difficult to hit with the right spin. But I think it’s easier to play when you play flatter on the shots.
“I need to live with it.
“I think I (have) practised enough with the ball to be ready for it.”
He’s not the only big name unimpressed with the quality of the balls, Stan Wawrinka agreeing with his peer.
“The balls are a bit different this year, it is true,” he said, “I have already tested them and it is true there is a big difference after you have used them for a few games than when they are new.
“They lose a lot of pop and it is completely different.”
11:30AM THE AUS OPEN 2023 IS UNDERWAY
Statements early on from two big names in the women’s draw.
Coco Gauff 6-1 v Katerina Siniakova and Jessica Pegula 6-0 v Jacqueline Cristian. Neither wasting any time in their opening clashes.
Not good for Danielle Collins it seems as she receives treatment on her knee early on.
10:40AM ‘DISREGARDED’: WIMBLEDON CHAMP’S UGLY AUS OPEN SNUB
Reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina has been shunted to the outdoor courts, in a brutal snub for one of the tournament’s drawcards.
Rybakina, who picked up zero points for her Wimbledon triumph where she defeated Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, will face Italy’s Elisabetta Cocciaretto far away from centre court – or even one of the other show courts.
No, instead she’ll be holed up on Court 13 in the baking midafternoon Melbourne heat, with her match scheduled for 4.15pm.
The decision incensed fans, with respected tennis writer Ben Rothenberg wonder why the 23-year-old had been ‘so quickly disregarded’.
“Reigning Wimbledon champ Elena Rybakina got relegated all the way out to the hinterland of Court 13 for her first #AusOpen match,” Rothenberg wrote on Twitter.
“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?”
The scheduling of one-time US Open champion Dominic Thiem’s mouth-watering first-round match-up with fifth seed Andrey Rublev has also raised eyebrows.
The pair will open John Cain Arena on Tuesday, with the 11am start not expected for a showdown of two of the highest-profile stars on the men’s tour.
10:15AM DJOKER ‘LIKES HIS CHANCES’
Novak Djokovic “likes his chances” of winning a record-extending 10th Australian Open crown, despite lingering injury worries.
After missing last year’s tournament when he was deported over his Covid vaccination stance, the Serbian star is back at Melbourne Park and in sizzling form.
He tweaked a hamstring in Adelaide and is still getting treatment, but insisted he was ready for another two-week campaign to potentially win a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam.
“I’ve been struggling with that a bit, to be honest, the last seven days,” he said of the injury.
“But it’s hopefully not a major concern. So far I’ve been able to train, compete and play points, practice sets. So that’s a positive sign.
“Obviously I’m being a bit more cautious. I’m not going full out on the training sessions, conserving the energy for next week. Hopefully it won’t cause an issue for me then.” Seeded four, the 35-year-old faces Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena in round one and said that despite the injury niggle “I like my chances”.
“I always like my chances. I train as hard as really anybody out there,” he added.
“There’s a lot of youngsters now that are very hungry, that want to win. They want to take a scalp off you on the big stadium. I know that.
“But experience of being in these kind of particular circumstances helps I think to have the right approach and do things in a proper way.
“Because I know when I’m healthy and playing my best, on this court (Rod Laver Arena) I have chances really against anybody.”
9:25AM – NADAL SHUTS DOWN RIVAL’S RETIREMENT THEORY
Rafael Nadal has shut down a rival’s retirement theory regarding the Spanish superstar.
German Alexander Zverev speculated that the French Open could be Nadal’s final tournament before deciding to hang up his racquet.
“Rafael Nadal will announce his retirement at Roland Garros,” Zverev told reporters at Melbourne Park on the eve of the Australian Open.
“I don’t wish him this, but I think he will play a big tournament, maybe wins it and then says goodbye.”
However, Nadal was having none of it when the theory was put to him.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen in six months,” he said.
“I have a very good relationship with Zverev, but not enough to confess something like that to him. The reality is that I’m here to play tennis, try to have a great 2023, fight for everything that I have struggled throughout my career and I don’t think about my retirement.”
8AM: RIVAL’S SHOCK NADAL FRENCH OPEN CALL
Alexander Zverev believes the 2023 French Open could be the last time we see Rafael Nadal on a tennis court.
The German world No. 12 has returned to the sport this year after a horrific injury which saw him tear three ligaments in his right ankle during his semi-final match against Nadal at Roland Garros in 2022.
But as Zverev looks forward to a year in which he hopes brings a first ever Grand Slam title, he believes that it could be the last for the tennis legend.
Not only this, the former No2 believes the Spaniard will take his last bow by claiming his 15th title on the famous clay court at the French Open.
Speaking to Eurosport, Zverev said: “Rafael Nadal will announce his retirement at Roland Garros.
“I don’t wish him this, but I think he will play a big tournament, maybe wins it and then says goodbye.”
Speculation of retirement has surrounded Nadal for the last few years, yet rumours have always been shut down by the 22-time Slam winner.
But at 36, Nadal has shown no signs of slowing down, claiming the Australian and French Open titles last year whilst sitting second in the world rankings behind countryman Carlos Alcaraz.
If Nadal was too retire, he would join long-time friend Roger Federer who decided to call it a day on his career last year, four years after his final Grand Slam win in Australia 2018.
Before any talk of retirement continues however, both Zeverev and Nadal have the Australian Open to focus on.
The two met in Melbourne back in 2017, with Nadal edging out the win over five sets in the round of 32.
If they were to meet again in 2023 it would be at the Rod Laver Stadium in the final, with the players being in opposite sides of the draw.
First, Zverev will have to take on a qualifier in the first round whilst Nadal will meet Great Britain’s Jack Draper as he looks to add a 23rd Grand Slam title to his collection, the most of any player in history.
7:45AM: MOTIVATIONAL VIDEOS BEHIND POPYRIN’S RETURN
A refreshed coaching line-up and motivational videos on social media have Alexei Popyrin ready to exorcise the mental demons that haunted him during a “tough” 2022 campaign.
The New South Welshman reached a career-best world ranking of 59 in late 2021 but dropped out of the top 100 last season after a series of early-round exits in tournaments around the world.
Popyrin has twice reached the third round of the Australian Open, building a reputation over 2019-21 as a player of the future.
Still just 23, Popyrin says last year’s failures served as a steep learning curve, adding a beefed up coaching team has set him on the right path for 2023.
“Last October, I said, ‘Enough’s enough’. I started to plan out my team, hired a coach, kept my second coach, got a new fitness coach and a new physio,” Popyrin said on Sunday.
“I got Xavier Malisse (former Belgian world no. 19) in my team. He’s in my corner right now. “He’s really helped me a lot in terms of my game, but in terms of the mental side, in terms of trying to stay positive … He’s always sending me those inspirational videos, quotes, trying to keep my head space in a good space.”
Popyrin has since adopted something of a nothing-to-lose mindset, saying his ranking “can’t really drop any further than it has already”.
“Right now I feel no pressure at all coming into this AO, coming into the start of the year.
“I feel like I’ve got a clean slate. I feel like I can play my tennis, I can play freely, and hopefully get my ranking up.”
The lanky competitor, a wildcard selection for the tournament, comes up against Tseng Chun-hsin in his first round, a 21-year-old from Taiwan who he defeated at the first round of last year’s US Open.
“It’s going to be a tough battle, it’s going to be 36 degrees out there on Tuesday.
“He’s really fit. I’ve known him since he’s been 16, 17 years old. We’ve practice together so many times.”
7:00AM: TSITSIPAS REVEALS UNIQUE SOURCE OF INSPIRATION FOR AUS OPEN
Greek gun Stefanos Tsitsipas is drawing on samurai warrior culture as he prepares for Australian Open battle in a bid for his maiden grand slam title.
The 24-year-old ace out of Athens will sport a playing kit based on the “ancient warrior spirit of Japan” for the tournament, inspired by his interest in studying cultures around the world.
Tsitsipas acknowledges the impact of Ancient Greek culture – a deep and broad discipline in its own right – but says looking beyond the history of his home soil is helping him reach an extra level.
“I am interested in cultures, I am interested in languages. I know life goes beyond my culture, Ancient Greek culture, which has left a lot of marks behind in history and time,” Tsitsipas said.
“There are other cultures out there that are also very exciting to learn about, to get to know better. Japanese culture is a very modest, very fair culture in their society, as well.
“It has intrigued me in a way to follow it more closely, to learn from it. I think there’s so many lessons you can take – even tennis players – by learning about history, learning about how things evolved.”
Tsitsipas says he was drawn to the samurai “fighting spirit”, a value he hopes to embody through his campaign.
“All these fighters that led Japan to its modern society today, traditions are hidden, they are there, but they are hidden.
“Not many people know about the Japanese culture. I have been very interested in learning more about it. The Japanese jersey represents me at its fullest.”
Tsitsipas commences his quest on Monday night against Frenchman Quentin Halys, an opponent he hasn’t bothered to acknowledge.
“I don’t know,” he says when asked what he makes of his first-round task. “I don’t know him at all.”
Researching ancient cultures clearly leaves no time for studying the world no. 64.
Still, Tsitsipas says the “right execution” will come from the “right preparation”, with “staying in the game” to be his chief focus for the tournament.
“I need to constantly be in the mindset of bouncing back stronger,” he said. “We have younger guys coming from behind (and) we still have Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal playing good tennis.
“We’re dealing with a lot of different things being thrown at us. In my case, I know that this year a lot of things can be done. I have the capacity to withstand the pressures and the challenges.”
Originally published as Australian Open 2023 live scores, schedule, order of play