There have been mixed results for the Aussies across the opening two days of the Australian Open, with many of our experienced campaigners failing to progress to the second round. However there is hope for the future with a number of emerging talents winning through at Melbourne Park.
Sam Stosur flew the flag on Day 1 when she was able to reverse her fortunes against Klara Zakopalova, who dumped her out of last week's Hobart International. The world No.17 was able to win through in straight-sets but her assignment doesn't get any easier as she comes up against Sydney International winner Tsvetana Pironkova in the second round.
She will be joined by Casey Dellacqua in Wednesday's on court action after she managed to sweep past former world No.2 Vera Zvonareva. Dellacqua, who is making her eleventh appearance at the Open, has struggled for consistency in recent times but was too strong for the Russian who is coming back from a shoulder reconstruction. A date with 19th seed Kirsten Flipkens, a player she has never met, awaits.
Unfortunately the news was not as great on the Men's side of the draw with both Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic falling to higher ranked opposition overnight. The pair had displayed strong form leading into the year's first grand slam but it will be down to the young brigade to step up after Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis were all successful in their first round assignments.
Hewitt fought back from two sets down against Italian Andreas Seppi and had a match point in the decider only to go down 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 5-7, 5-7, 7-5 in a marathon match on Rod Laver Arena. Hewitt, who was making his eighteenth consecutive appearance at the Australian Open was disappointed to bow out but adamant he would be back. He now looks forward to a doubles appearance where he will team up with Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter in a match that is sure to attract plenty of support.
The fight was not as strong in controversial youngster Bernard Tomic after he retired from his first round clash with world No.1 Rafael Nadal after losing the first set. The 21-year-old continues to divide public opinion but will have made few friends after withdrawing with a groin injury. An apologetic Tomic was in discomfort throughout the opening set, calling on the trainer a number of times before raising the white flag.
“This opportunity I had to play against Rafa was huge for me,” said Tomic after the match. "Unfortunately, I couldn't compete. It was very difficult for me to say sorry to the crowd. I don't think they quite knew what was wrong with me.”
Marinko Matosevic and James Duckworth were also first round losers, going down to Kei Nishikori and Roger Federer respectively.
Our best result on Day 2 was undoubtedly the form of teenager Nick Kyrgios, who announced his arrival as a future star with an impressive four-set win over Benjamin Becker. Compatriots Matt Ebden, Thanasi Kokkinakis and Olivia Rogowska round out the complement of Aussies who have won through to the second round.
You can catch all the action of the Australian Open on the big screen in the SSC clubhouse. Make sure you join us Wednesday afternoon if you can to see two Aussie legends in Hewitt and Rafter do their best to strike up a combination in the Men's doubles.
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