It was a case of mixed fortunes for the Australians on day one of the 2013 Australian Open, but regardless of the eventual outcomes, it was the youngsters that flew the flag strongly.
With seasoned veteran Samantha Stosur on Rod Laver Arena in the first session, it was up to the youngsters to show to the crowd the faces of the future of Australian tennis, and the group didn’t let the crowd down.
After having what were touted as “horror” draws, Aussie up and comers Ashleigh Barty, John Millman and Olivia Rogowska fought out some grinding sets, but were eventually overcome by their far more experienced opponents.
Barty, who faced off against 15th seed Dominika Cibulkova, seemed unfazed by the task in front of her and played magnificently to take out the first set 6-3, before ultimately going down 6-3, 0-6, 1-6, but the experience for the sixteen year old was invaluable.
The girl from Ipswich looked like she was going to cause the first upset of the tournament and, buoyed on by her recent win in the Hopman Cup, Barty’s composure rattled the Slovak significantly, until Cibulkova managed to regroup and close out the match.
“That was nerves,” Barty acknowledged. “Once she got the momentum, I wasn’t able to stop her.”
Millman looked to be in all sorts of trouble early on in his match against Japan’s Tatsuma Ito, dropping the first two sets 4-6, 4-6, but managed to claw his way back and force the match into a five set battle. After just under three and a half hours, the Queenslander – in his Australian Open debut – went down 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 0-6, 5-7, but there were plenty of indications that Millman will be a player to watch in the future.
The third of the young trio, Olivia Rogowska was left heartbroken after falling to Serbian Vesna Dolonc, after taking Dolonc to three tie breakers and eventually succumbing 5-7, 7-5, 8-6, but there were positive signs for the 21 year old Melburnian.
Overall, nine Australians were on court today, with only Stosur progressing, but that figure is set to alter Tuesday with one of the form players from Australia in Bernard Tomic on Rod Laver Arena in the evening.
Despite the lack of progression from Day One, the signs amongst the youngsters were positive. If Barty, Millman and Rogowska are the future of Australian tennis, I’m sure we are heading in the right direction.
AUSSIE RESULTS DAY ONE:
Samantha Stosur d Kai-Chen Chang 7-6(3), 6-3
Janko Tipsarevic d Lleyton Hewitt 7-6(4), 7-5, 6-3
Dominika Cibulkova d Ashleigh Barty 3-6, 6-0, 6-1
Agnieszka Radwanska d Bojana Bobusic 7-5, 6-0
Mikhail Youzhny d Matthew Ebden 4-6, 6-7(0), 6-2, 7-6(4), 6-3
Madison Keys d Casey Dellacqua 6-4, 7-6(0)
Tatsuma Ito d John Millman 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 0-6, 7-5
Vesna Dolonc d Olivia Rogowska 5-7, 7-5, 8-6
Kristyna Pliskova d Sacha Jones 6-3, 6-2