Demon time: Top Aussie advances

TOP-RANKED Australian Alex de Minaur has advanced to the second round of his home Grand Slam, after big-hitting Canadian Milos Raonic was forced into a third set retirement (hip). The match was level at one set apiece, with de Minaur up 2-0 in the third before a hobbling Raonic called time.

Local fans came out in droves to pack Rod Laver Arena and watch the first Australian men’s top 10 player since Lleyton Hewitt. Expectations were particularly high given de Minaur’s United Cup campaign, where he knocked off three top 10 players, including world number one Novak Djokovic.

“It’s no secret I’ve started the year pretty well,” de Minaur said post-match. “Now it’s all about keeping my head down and trying to keep doing the same thing.”

Those expectations were somewhat quelled after the first set, where Raonic’s booming serve and aggressive groundstrokes put the ragged-defending Aussie off his game. The former world number three took out the set in a tiebreak having imposed his power on the hard court.

de Minaur hit back to take the second set 6-3, noting a loss of heat on Raonic’s serve before his subsequent retirement. Despite successfully turning the tide of the match, albeit aided by his opponent’s injury, the Australian was far from pleased with his ability to rise at important stages.

“I just got tight in the big moments,” he said. “But it is what it is. It’s a five-set match, so I told myself to [regroup] and start again for the second… It doesn’t matter what position you’re in, stay calm and collected and always believe in myself to change the situation, any situation.”

A second round meeting with Matteo Arnaldi awaits de Minaur. He’ll be out for revenge against the Italian after going down in last year’s Davis Cup final.

Elsewhere on day two, recent runners-up Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev both progressed despite dropping their first sets of the slam. Seventh seed Tsitsipas downed lucky loser Zizou Bergs 5-7, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3, while Medvedev (3) got past qualifier Terence Atmane, who retired in the fourth set.

Felix Auger-Aliassime and Dominic Thiem had it out in an epic five-setter, with the 27th-seed Canadian scraping through in a tick under five hours. Having won the opening two sets, he was forced to a fifth but held firm to see out the result over a tough first round opponent.

Grand Slam champions Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray were both felled yesterday, with Murray perhaps playing his last event in Melbourne. The 36-year-old Scot went down in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 to seeded Argentine Tomas Martin Etcheverry.

Aside from de Minaur, Australians were out in numbers at Melbourne Park. Alexei Popyrin and Jordan Thompson won all-Australian battles, though Omar Jasika was defeated by ninth seed Hubert Hurkacz in straight sets, and wildcard James Duckworth went down in five sets.

>> Day 1 recap: Djokovic survives early scare

2024 Australian Open, Day 2

S. Tsitsipas (7) def. Z. Bergs (LL) 5-7, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3
A. de Minaur (10) def. M. Raonic 6-7, 6-3, 2-0 (RET)
D. Medvedev (3) def. T. Atmane (Q) 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, 1-0 (RET)
F. Auger-Aliassime (27) def. D. Thiem 6-3, 7-5, 6-7, 5-7, 6-3
A. Popyrin [AUS] def. M. Polmans (WC) [AUS] 6-3, 7-6, 6-2
H. Hurkacz (9) def. O. Jasika (Q) [AUS] 7-6, 6-4, 6-2
A. Mannarino (20) def. S. Wawrinka 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-0
T. Etcheverry (30) def. A. Murray 6-4, 6-2, 6-2
B. Shelton (16) def. R. Bautista Agut 6-2, 7-6, 7-5
K. Khachanov (15) def. D. Altmaier 5-7, 6-3, 7-6, 7-6
J. Thompson [AUS] def. A. Vukic [AUS] 3-6, 7-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4
J. Struff (24) def. R. Hijikata 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-7, 7-6
E. Ruusuvuori def. P. Kypson (WC) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6
H. Grenier (Q) def. A. Muller 2-6, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6
L. Van Assche def. J. Duckworth (WC) [AUS] 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3
G. Monflis def. Y. Hanfmann 6-4, 6-3, 7-5
J. Mensik (Q) def. D. Shapovalov 6-3, 7-5, 7-5
Z. Zhang def. F. Coria 6-4, 7-6, 7-6
A. Davidovich Fokina (23) def. C. Lestienne 6-4, 6-4, 7-6
U. Humbert (21) def. D. Goffin (Q) 6-2, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3
H. Gaston (LL) def. R. Carballes Baena 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4
N. Borges def. M. Marterer 7-5, 7-6, 6-2
F. Cobolli (Q) def. N. Jarry (18) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5
C. Eubanks def. T. Daniel 6-4, 6-2, 6-3
L. Musetti (25) def. B. Bonzi 7-6, 7-6, 4-6, 6-2
M. Kecmanovic def. Y. Watanuki 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4
S. Korda (29) def. V. Kopriva (Q) 6-1, 6-4, 2-6, 4-6, 6-2
A. Kovacevic (Q) def. A. Tabilo 6-7, 7-6, 1-6, 6-1, 6-3

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