Sports

Murray wins Berrettini in Australian Open round one

Andy Murray rolled back the years to defeat 13th seed Matteo Berrettini in a five-set epic at the Australian Open on Tuesday, on a sweltering day when most courts were closed for three hours. 

Off the court, meanwhile, on day two, organisers banned Russian and Belarusian flags from Melbourne Park. 

Following his ban and deportation last year, Novak Djokovic is set to return to the Grand Slam stage later Tuesday. 

The day, however, appeared to belong to the 35-year-old Murray, who defeated Italy's Berrettini 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7 (7/9), 7-6 (10/6) in 4hrs 49mins under a closed roof on Rod Laver Arena due to the extreme heat. 

"I'll be feeling it this evening and tomorrow," said the former world number one, who now plays with a metal hip after undergoing career-saving surgery. 

"But right now, I'm ecstatic and proud of myself. 

"I've worked hard with my team over the last few months to give myself this opportunity to perform in stadiums like this, matches like this, and against players like Matteo — and it paid off tonight." 


"I did well to get through," said the three-time major champion, who will face either Fabio Fognini or Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round. 

In the men's draw, Russia's fifth seed Andrey Rublev defeated 2020 finalist Dominic Thiem 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in temperatures of 36 degrees Celsius (96.8 Fahrenheit). 

Thiem, the former US Open champion, was outplayed as he continued his comeback from a wrist injury that kept him off the court for nine months in the 2021 and 2022 seasons. 

The heat forced the suspension of play on the outside courts as the temperature rose. The roofs of the three main stadiums — Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena, and John Cain Arena — were closed. 

Three hours later, play resumed on the outside courts. 

The men's seeds, like the women's, were mostly unaffected. 

Dan Evans of the United Kingdom, Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain, Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, and Diego Schwartzman of Argentina all advanced to the second round. 


Taylor Fritz of the United States defeated Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5. 

Djokovic of Serbia was deported on the eve of last year's Australian Open due to his stance on Covid vaccines. 

However, the 35-year-old will be back in action in his opener against Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain, and he is expected to receive a warm reception from the Rod Laver Arena crowd. 

He is attempting to win the Australian Open for the 10th time, tying defending champion Rafael Nadal's men's all-time record of 22 Grand Slam titles. 

- Russian flag prohibition - 

Tennis Australia prohibited the use of Russian and Belarussian flags following a complaint from Ukraine's ambassador to Australia. 

Russia's red, white, and blue stripes were visible during at least two matches on Monday, with Ukrainian fans reportedly calling security and police to the stands. 


"The ban takes effect immediately," Tennis Australia stated. 

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Russian and Belarussian players have typically competed as independents under a neutral flag, as is the case at the Australian Open. 

The ban was dubbed "unacceptable politicization of sports" by Moscow. 

- 'Remain calm.' - 

Caroline Garcia and Aryna Sabalenka, the fourth and fifth seeds in the women's draw, both advanced to the second round. 

Garcia of France needed only 65 minutes to defeat Canadian qualifier Katherine Sebov 6-3, 6-0 and cement her place as a contender for the year's first Grand Slam. 

Sabalenka defeated Tereza Martincova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-4. 


"I need to work on my mindset and stay calm when I make mistakes," said Sabalenka, who is from Belarus. "I truly believe this is the only flaw in my game." 

Elise Mertens, the 26th seed, also won. The Belgian won 3-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-1 over Spain's former Melbourne finalist Garbine Muguruza, who was cramping. 

Tunisia's second seed Ons Jabeur, who finished second at Wimbledon and the US Open last year, begins her quest for a maiden Grand Slam with a match against Slovenia's Tamara Zidansek.

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