The Australian Open began in fine fashion for the small British contingent as Kyle Edmund produced the best win of his career against US Open finalist Kevin Anderson.
That was not the only shock, with last year’s women’s finalist Venus Williams beaten by in-form Swiss Belinda Bencic.
But there were straightforward wins in the evening session for Rafael Nadal, Nick Kyrgios, Caroline Wozniacki and Elina Svitolina.
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Andy Murray, who is still in Melbourne following hip surgery, was feeling blue on the first day of play, although Edmund’s result would have provided a major filip.
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All was rosy in the American tennis garden when the home nation boasted all four of the women’s semi-finalists at the US Open. But four months on, the country endured a shocking first day at Melbourne Park. Of 15 players to take to the court, 12 lost, including top 16 seeds Venus Williams, Jack Sock, Coco Vandeweghe, Sloane Stephens and John Isner. The only winners were unseeded trio Ryan Harrison, Mackenzie McDonald and Nicole Gibbs.
Denis Shapovalov is the most exciting teenage talent on the men’s tour and was terrific on his Australian Open debut, beating fellow youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-1 6-3 7-6 (7/5). But peeling a banana at one changeover proved the Canadian’s toughest challenge.
Vandeweghe, meanwhile, received a code violation after she took too long eating a banana. The American was furious, claiming the fruit was not delivered to her on time.
Men – Jack Sock (8), Kevin Anderson (11), John Isner (16), Lucas Pouille (18), Philipp Kohlschreiber (27).
Women – Venus Williams (5), Coco Vandeweghe (10), Sloane Stephens (13), Dominika Cibulkova (24), Peng Shuai (25), Ekaterina Makarova (31).
Novak Djokovic will play his first competitive match in six months against Donald Young, with the same scenario facing Stan Wawrinka when he meets Ricardas Berankis.
Roger Federer, Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova are also in first-round action while the match of the day could well be Tomas Berdych’s clash with Australian boy wonder Alex De Minaur.