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HomeSportPegula, Gauff Signal Intent As Australian Open Begins - SBB Times

Pegula, Gauff Signal Intent As Australian Open Begins – SBB Times


Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff fired early warning shots Monday at the Australian Open with blistering straight-sets wins as Rafael Nadal prepares to return to the scene of one of his greatest Grand Slam triumphs. In-form third seed Pegula blitzed past 161st ranked Romanian Jaqueline Cristian on Margaret Court Arena 6-0, 6-1 in a 59-minute romp to signal her intent. Fellow American Coco Gauff, seeded seven, was equally explosive in racing into the second round with a 6-1, 6-4 thumping of Czech Katerina Siniakova on neighbouring Rod Laver Arena.

Gauff headed into the first Grand Slam of the year on a high after winning her third WTA title at the Auckland Classic this month, while Pegula was boosted by upsetting world number one Iga Swiatek at the United Cup.

“I’m honoured that the tournament decided to choose me and Katerina to open on Rod Laver Arena,” said Gauff.

Gauff now faces a cracking second-round encounter against the former US Open champion Emma Raducanu, who beat German Tamara Korpatsch, 6-3, 6-2, barely 10 days after the British star exited the Auckland event in tears with an ankle injury.

But two seeds fell at the first hurdle, 25th seeded Czech Marie Bouzkova and American 28th seed Amanda Anisimova.

Top seed Swiatek gets her campaign for a first Melbourne Park title under way later and said she was ready for an “intense” match against Germany’s Jule Neimeier, the world number 69 who reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last year.

The pair’s only previous meeting came in the last 16 of the 2022 US Open, where Swiatek dropped the first set before coming through 2-6, 6-4, 6-0 and going on to win her third Grand Slam title.

– Nadal’s tough test-
Defending men’s champion Nadal has an afternoon clash on centre court against emerging 21-year-old Briton Jack Draper, who reached the Adelaide semi-finals last week.

But the top seed, who extended that record to 22 titles at Roland Garros, has been struggling for form and admitted Draper would be a tough test.

“Probably one of the toughest first rounds possible… young, powerful, growing very, very fast in the rankings, playing well,” said Nadal of Draper, the world number 40.

Before he makes his bow, Greek sixth seed Maria Sakkari faces Yuan Yue of China, the world number 117.

Daniil Medvedev has been the Australian Open runner-up for the past two years, losing first to Djokovic in 2021 and then Nadal 12 months ago.

Seeded seven, the Russian will round off the first night session on Rod Laver against 60th-ranked American Marcus Giron.

Also in action on Monday are men’s third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who plays 64th-ranked Frenchman Quentin Halys, and last year’s women’s runner-up, the American 13th seed Danielle Collins who starts against Anna Kalinskaya of Russia.

Victoria Azarenka, the Belarusian 2012 and 2013 winner, will also play Sofia Kenin, whose lone Grand Slam title came in Australia in 2020.

Novak Djokovic, who was detained and deported ahead of last year’s tournament after refusing to get vaccinated for Covid-19, begins his campaign for a record-extending 10th Australian Open title on Tuesday.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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