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Australian Open

Defending champions come through first round in Melbourne

Published on January 14, 2024
Updated on January 15, 2024
Written by Chris

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Defending champions come through first round in Melbourne
  • Djokovic needs four hours to see off qualifier
  • Rublev and Fritz through
  • Sabalenka makes short work of Seidel

Defending Australian Open champions Novak Djokovic and Aryna Sabalenka came through their first round matches in contrasting circumstances at Melbourne Park. Djokovic needed four sets in just over four hours to prevail, while Sabalenka required less than an hour to ensure her passage to the second round.

Check out the best betting sites in the UK and the best bookies for tennis and the Australian Open with  For more information, delve into our tournament preview.

Djokovic comes through in four sets

Djokovic faced a tough challenge in the first round of the Australian Open, battling against 18-year-old qualifier Dino Prizmic in a four-hour and one-minute match. Djokovic eventually secured victory with a 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-4 scoreline. Despite facing his childhood idol, Prizmic saved six match points and left a strong impression on the world number one, who commented on Prizmic’s potential and mental presence on the court.

Djokovic, aiming for his 11th men’s title in Melbourne and a record-extending 25th Grand Slam singles title, mentioned feeling “under the weather” during the match. His next opponent in the second round will be either Alexei Popyrin or Marc Polmans.

Prizmic, the French Open boys’ champion in the previous year, showcased great resilience and skill in his debut Grand Slam appearance. Djokovic acknowledged Prizmic’s abilities, stating that he felt like he was “playing [against] himself in the mirror” and praising the Croatian’s lack of weaknesses.

In another thrilling match, fifth seed Andrey Rublev survived a comeback from Thiago Seyboth Wild, winning in five sets with a 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (10-6) score. Rublev expressed moments of panic in the fifth set but managed to control his emotions to secure the victory. His next opponent will be either Taro Daniel or Christopher Eubanks.

Meanwhile, former semi-finalist Matteo Berrettini withdrew due to a foot injury, allowing Stefanos Tsitsipas to face Belgian Zizou Bergs. Other notable results include Taylor Fritz’s comeback win against Facundo Diaz Acosta and Frances Tiafoe’s victory over Borna Coric.

Sabalenka in quick fire victory

In the women’s event, Sabalenka, the defending champion, dominated her opening match against Ella Seidel with a swift 6-0, 6-1 win in just 53 minutes. Greek eighth seed Maria Sakkari also advanced with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Nao Hibino.

Caroline Wozniacki, the 2018 Australian Open winner, returned to Melbourne and advanced to the second round after Polish 20th seed Magda Linette retired due to injury.

 The Australian Open has extended its duration to 15 days this year in an effort to prevent late finishes, marking its first Sunday start.

Australian Open Betting

Djokovic remains favourite, currently 21/20 with bet365. At the time of writing Carlos Alcarez is second favourite at 10/3 ahead of Jannik Sinner, 11/2.

Sabalenka is, at the time of writing, second favourite, priced at 4/1 behind favourite Iga Swiatek, 2/1. Elena Rybakina is priced at 9/2 with Coco Gauff 11/2.

Check out the best betting sites in the UK and the best bookmakers for tennis and the Australian Open before making your picks. Our tournament preview provides more information on this year’s actionat Melbourne Park.

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Chris is a former athlete and a qualified PE teacher. He is a keen football fan, watching many matches at different levels throughout the season, and enjoys following many different sports. With betting and sports sites, he has a keen eye for detail and can to highlight positives and negatives for users. His experience in sport as a performer, teacher, writer and fan allows him to see things from many different perspectives. Editorial Promise