Australian Open: British star Burrage out as Djokovic relives nightmare | Tennis | Sport

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Australian Open: British star Burrage out as Djokovic relives nightmare | Tennis | Sport

British star Burrage has crashed out of the Australian Open and Djokovic has relived his covid fears

British star Burrage has crashed out of the Australian Open and Djokovic has relived his covid fears (Image: GETTY)

The first Sunday start at the Australian Open has seen the first British casualty – while Novak Djokovic has revisited his 2022 deportation before beginning his latest title defence.

Jannick Sinner, who beat the world No.1 three times in November, started his bid for a maiden Grand Slam with a comfortable win with the help of his own fan club. 

While the Canadian who lost to Emma Raducanu in the teenage 2021 US Open final said she felt old after recording one of the first wins of the 2024 Grand Slam season and Maria Sakkari continued her perfect start to the year.

But two Wimbledon finalists are out of the tournament. Here is what has happened so far at the Australian Open.

No Plan B

British No.2 Jodie Burrage took the first set against Tamara Korpatsch but after the German took a long toilet break, she return to win 2-6 6-3 6-0.

Burrage made 45 unforced errors and had her serve broken five times by the world No.81 who has not beaten the world No.102 in three consecutive matches.

She lost nine of the last 10 games on windy Court 13.

“A bit of a tough one today,” said Burrage. Still pretty raw, to be honest, so still a lot of emotions there. It was just a tough end to a match really. I found it tough to serve in that wind and just my game in general.

« I tried to adjust as much as possible, but when you hit a bigger ball I guess and don’t grind it out, when it gets windy, it’s not as easy to play, but that’s just what I need to learn to do. I need to learn to have a bit of a plan B because there was no plan B there today.”

Djokovic in knots

Djokovic felt his “stomach was in knots” – and is still in touch with Mehdi

The Serbian superstar was set to open his bid for a record 25th Grand Slam title in the night session on Rod Laver Arena against teenager Dino Prizmic.

But in his pre-tournament press conference in his native language, the defending champion spoke about his 2022 deportation from Melbourne after he entered Australia without a Covid-19 vaccine and was detained in the Park Hotel for immigrants.

Djokovic revealed he had arrived in the same Melbourne airport terminal as in 2022. 

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« I saw the whole path I went over that day, the immigration office, I even recognized a man who was there two years ago. It did not feel, my stomach was in knots, » he said.

The 10-time champion here claimed the “one good thing” to come from his deportation was the “media attention” directed to another detainees in Melbourne, including Iranian Mehdi was who released after nine years.

Djokovic revealed: “I feel some kind of special connection with Mehdi. We keep in touch, he lives in Minnesota now, so we will see each other when I go to the US. He told me that he was grateful for the attention my case brought.”


Djokovic has a difficult history with the Aus Open due to his longstanding vaccination principles (Image: Getty)

Sinner and his Carota Boys

The Italian joked his fan club were “getting more famous than I am” after the Davis Cup champion started his new season with another win.

The world No.4 beat Novak Djokovic in the group stage at the Nitto ATP Finals before losing the final then beat the Serb twice in Malaga.

Today Sinner beat Botic van de Zandschulp 6-4 7-5 6-3 in the first match of the tournament in the Rod Laver Arena with the support of his Carota Boys who were making their debut Down Under.

“I was not expecting them to come here, but it’s nice to see them in the stands,” smiled the redhead. “Obviously we have made some great memories together, no, with all the support they give me.

“They are getting more famous than I am slowly! Obviously I also have to watch out for myself, because, you know, I want to win as many matches as possible, but maybe this support gives me in the key moments maybe this extra belief maybe. Who knows? Let’s see how it goes here.”

Fernandez feels old at 21

The Canadian No.32 seed was only 19 when she lost to fellow teenager Emma Raducanu in the 2021 US Open final.

Today Fernandez beat 17-year-old Czech debutant Sara Bejlek 7-6 6-2 to reach the second round at Melbourne Park for only the second time. 

Eleven teenagers started in the women’s draw and Fernandez laughed: “It honestly makes me feel old! When I play against someone younger, it does make me think a little bit more of when I first started. I think that also helps because I remember when I started, I was hungry. I wanted to kind of prove myself that I could be here.

I just knew that today she’s going to have that same feeling, she’s going to do that. She was playing really well. So I think I was just happy that, like I said, on key moments I was able to stay calm and just execute my game.”

Maria Sakkari wins “ugly” to end her losing Major streak

The Greek No.8 seed won all three of her singles matches at the United  Cup and today overcome a slow start to beat Nao Hibino of Japan 6-4 6-1.

Sakkari reached the third round here last year but did not win another match in the Grand Slams for the rest of the year. 

“I had lost in the first round in the last three Majors,” she said.

“It was a very difficult match for me emotionally but I am very happy to win today. It was relief in a way I managed to win the first set not playing my best tennis. Sometimes you have to win ugly. But the second set certainly wasn’t ugly.”

Cilic and Berrettini are out

Former Australian Open runner-up Marin Cilic lost 6-1 2-6 6-2 7-5 to Fabian Marozsan.

Cilic, who lost to Roger Federer here in 2018 after also losing the 2017 Wimbledon final to the Swiss superstar, was playing his first Grand Slam since the 2022 US Open after missing almost all of last year due to injury.

And 2021 Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini, who has also been dogged by physical problems, has withdrawn due to a foot injury.

The 2022 semi-finalist here lost to Andy Murray in the first round last year.

Iga is No.1

French Open champion Iga Swiatek is the first female player since Serena Willams to be No.1 seed in eight consecutive Grand Slams. The Pole was top seed in Paris in 2022 when she won her second Major title and has stayed there while taking her tally to four Majors.

Swiatek, who got to the semi-finals here last year, will start her latest campaign here against 2020 champion Sofia Kenin. 

Williams was top seed at 15 Grand Slams between 2013-16.

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