Australian Open: It’s a day for comebacks in Australia
Maria Sharapova, Angelique Kerber and Novak Djokovic on Tuesday ensured there were all kinds of successful comebacks on Day 2 of the Australian Open.
Sharapova barely missed a beat in her first match at the Australian Open since a failed doping test in 2016 resulted in a 15-month ban from tennis.
One of only two former champions in the women’s draw, Sharapova recovered from an early break in the second set and closed out her 6-1, 6-4 victory over Tatjana Maria with an ace.
“It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been back here — obviously, I wanted to enjoy the moment,” the 2008 Australian Open champion and three-time runner-up said. “It was really meaningful for me to be out here.”
Sharapova was banned after testing positive for the drug meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open, when she reached the quarterfinals, and finished last year ranked No. 60.
The five-time major winner got vocal support from fans during and after her opening match.
“I’ve got shivers. It means a lot to me,” Sharapova said. “I cherish these moments, I love it.”
Kerber, the other former Open winner in the women’s tournament, won her 10th match in a row to start the season, beating Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-0, 6-4.
Madison Brengle of the United States lost to Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-1. Konta next will play Croatian-born American Bernarda Pera, 23, who beat Anna Blinkova 6-2, 6-2 for her first win at a Grand Slam event.
Pera lost in the final round of qualifying and got into the tournament when Margarita Gasparyan withdrew because of a shoulder injury.
American Madison Keys, the U.S. Open runner-up, moved into the second round with a 6-1, 7-5 victory over Wang Qiang.
Top-seeded Simona Halep overcame an injured left ankle to beat Australian wild-card entry Destanee Aiava 7-6 (5), 6-1. Halep trailed 5-2 in the first set.
Six-time champion Djokovic advanced to the second round for the 12th consecutive year, beating American Donald Young 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.
Young didn’t go out without a fight, however, saving four match points on his serve in the ninth game of the final set before Djokovic served out the match in the next game.
The 14th-seeded Djokovic was playing his first official tournament match since a six-month layoff after a right elbow injury kept him off the circuit since Wimbledon, where he lost in the quarterfinals.
“Feels so great to be back here. There’s no better place for me to start than here in Australia,” he said.
Stan Wawrinka, seeded ninth, struggled at times in his first match since last year’s Wimbledon, but held on to beat Ricardas Berankis 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (2).
The 2014 Australian Open champion connected on only 50% of his first serves and was broken four times in the match. He also looked physically spent toward the end of the fourth set before rallying to dominate the tiebreaker and close out the match.
Wawrinka underwent surgery on his left knee after Wimbledon and didn’t play again in 2017.
“I’m proud to be back already,” he said after his match. “Honestly, to win today, it means a lot for me.”
Sam Querrey, seeded 13th, restored some order for the U.S. men with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Feliciano Lopez.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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