Federer Makes Winning Return



  •   Murray, Evans also in round two

Four-time champion Roger Federer monday reached the Australian Open second round with a four-set victory over Austria’s Jurgen Melzer in Melbourne.

The 35-year-old, appearing in his first competitive match in six months after injuring his knee, won 7-5 3-6 6-2 6-2.

World number four Stan Wawrinka needed five sets to beat Slovakia’s Martin Klizan 4-6 6-4 7-5 4-6 6-4. Japan’s Kei Nishikori, ranked fifth, is through after beating Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov 5-7 6-1 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 6-2.

The 27-year-old will next play France’s Jeremy Chardy while Wawrinka, 31, will face American Steve Johnson.

Federer, who hit 19 aces in his two-hour match against Melzer, faces 20-year-old American Noah Rubin in round two.

“Any match is a good match, even if I had lost, because I’m back on the court,” the 17-time Grand Slam champion said.

“Last year was tough but it is nice to be playing normal tennis again. It was a long road but I made it.”

Chardy, ranked 72nd in the world, progressed when Spain’s Nicolas Almagro pulled out with a calf injury four games into their match.

Almagro, 31, rebuffed suggestions he had only turned up to claim the $50,000 (£31,000) that comes with a first-round exit.

He said: “I have more than $10m. I’m not going to play for $50,000. It is not the reason.”
Wawrinka, winner in 2014, is appearing in his 12th Australian Open and has never lost in the first round.

The Swiss fought back from a break down in the final set to edge Klizan in a testing three-hour encounter during which Wawrinka climbed over the net to apologise after accidentally striking his opponent with the ball.

“I was fighting a lot and I never give up but it was most important to get through,” he said.
Nishikori, who is attempting to become the first Asian man to win a Grand Slam, secured victory despite receiving medical treatment in the final set.

“It wasn’t easy, especially mentally and I should have finished it in four sets,” he added.
Australian Nick Kyrgios raced to victory in his opener against Portuguese Gastao Elias, who is ranked 77th in the world.

The 14th seed took only 84 minutes to win 6-1 6-2 6-2, despite an eight-minute medical timeout to treat a nosebleed in the first set.

Despite the stoppage, it took him just 19 minutes to win the first set as he powered into the second round.

“I’m getting some great treatment for it from my team and it didn’t cause me any problems,” Kyrgios said.

Kyrgios will next play Italy’s Andreas Seppi, who beat Paul-Henri Mathieu of France 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (3-7) 7-5.

Tenth seed Tomas Berdych, twice a semi-finalist in Melbourne, also had a comfortable passage as his Italian opponent Luca Vanni retired after losing the opening set 6-1.

Seventh seed Marin Cilic fought back from two sets down to beat world number 278 Jerzy Janowicz 4-6 4-6 6-2 6-2 6-3 in three hours and set up a meeting with Britain’s Dan Evans in round two.
France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, ranked 12th in the world, advanced after a 6-1 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 victory over Brazilian Thiago Monteiro.

Yesterday also, Britain’s Andy Murray won his first Grand Slam match since becoming world number one but was given a stern test by world number 95 Illya Marchenko.

A clearly frustrated Murray was far from his best but reached the second round of the Australian Open with a 7-5 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 win over the Ukrainian.

The Scot, attempting to win his first Australian Open title after five final defeats, won in two hours 48 minutes.

Fellow Briton Dan Evans beat Facundo Bagnis of Argentina in straight sets.
Evans, the world number 51, saved three set points before winning the opener in a tie-break, then broke Bagnis in the first game of the second set.

A break of the world number 65’s serve in game nine gave Evans the second set, and he wrapped up a 7-6 (10-8) 6-3 6-1 victory to set up a second-round match against Marin Cilic.

Murray, 29, made a nervy start and lost the first game with three double faults and a forehand error, but took control to serve for the set at 5-3.

However, Marchenko broke the Scot again to draw level, only for Murray to raise his intensity and take the set after 55 minutes.

Murray became increasingly frustrated in the second set, berating himself for his errors and unusually sluggish movement, as his opponent grew in confidence.
The Ukrainian, also 29, hit a series of powerful forehands and deft volleys to take the lead in the set.

Murray had to fight hard to force a tie-break, but once again the top seed did enough when it mattered to win the set after a marathon 76 minutes in hot conditions.
The gruelling effort seemed to affect Marchenko in the third set and Murray took advantage to win it without any complications.

He faces Russia’s Andrey Rublev in round two.