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De Minaur advances in Open after Raonic retires

De Minaur after his first-round match

Source: Australian Open

While he didn’t have to go the distance, home hope Alex De Minaur says he took plenty from his Australian Open clash with Milos Raonic, who retired mid-match.

De Minaur was gifted passage into the second round at Melbourne Park after the former world No.3 walked to the net early in the third set with the Australian on top 6-7 (8-6) 6-3 2-0.

The 33-year-old Canadian had left the court for medical treatment on a hip flexor issue while leading 5-4 in the first set. While he won that in a tie-break, the injury continued to affect his movement and serve.

Former great John McEnroe, in commentary, questioned whether the former Wimbledon finalist Raonic would again be seen at the Open.

Raonic had a horrible run of injuries and illness between 2021 and 2023, missing nine grand slams with Achilles, back, glutes, ankle, calf and knee injuries, a broken toe as well as COVID-19.

De Minaur said he was happy with the way he stayed composed in the face of the booming Raonic serve, with the Canadian sending down a dozen aces.

The top-ranked Australian upped his own service game in the second set with five aces, winning 93 per cent of his first serve points and went unbroken against his hulking rival.

“No matter what the situation is I stayed calm and collected,” the 24-year-old said.

“A five-set match means there’s always a long way to go so it doesn’t matter what you’re position you’re in, I believe in myself to change the situation.

“I do believe I lost the first set when I got tight but it’s five sets so I told myself to recoup and start again for the second.

“As you saw, I was chasing his serve for the better part of that match – guessing every now and again.

“I just focused on myself in the second set, had to restart and managed to jag a break out of the blue and change the momentum.”

De Minaur, who broke into the world top 10 last week, felt for his opponent.

“I hope he has a speedy recovery – it’s not great to see him like this,” he said.

“He deserves to be healthy and playing incredible tennis that he has done for so many years so hopefully he is back in no time.”

The performance continues de Minaur’s hot start to the summer, with wins over world No.1 Novak Djokovic in the United Cup and second-ranked Carlos Alcaraz, albeit in an exhibition.

De Minaur has a seed-free path to the second week after big-serving Chilean world No.18 Nicolas Jarry was knocked out in the first round, suffering a 6-4 3-6 6-3 2-6 7-5 loss to qualifier Flavio Cobolli.

The Sydneysider, who next plays Italian Matteo Arnaldi, had been on track to meet Jarry in the third round.

Instead, the earliest he could face a seed, pending any upsets, is in week two against either world No.5 Andrey Rublev or 29th seed Sebastian Korda.

Naomi Osaka in action against Caroline Garcia. Photo: Getty

Osaka’s earliest Open exit

Naomi Osaka’s return to the top of women’s tennis has hit a speed-bump with the former world No.1 bowing out in the first round of the Australian Open for the first time.

The Japan star has won the title twice at Melbourne Park, in 2019 and 2021, with her previous worst result a second round elimination back in 2017.

But French 16th seed Caroline Garcia handed the 26-year-old a 6-4 7-6 (7-2) defeat in their opening clash on Rod Laver Arena on Monday night.

Despite the scoreline Osaka can take heart with her performance – returning to tennis at the Brisbane International just six months after the birth of her daughter, with the Open her first major since the US Open in 2022.

Veteran Garcia, who reached the fourth round of the Open last year, claimed an early break in the first set and never looked back

The pair went toe to toe in the a high-quality second, with Osaka finding her range and rhythm as the match went into a tie-break.

While Osaka opened with an ace, world No.19 Garcia lifted her own service game to keep her rival at bay.

She finished the match with 13 aces and 89 per cent of first serve points won while hit 34 winners to Osaka’s 20.

Four-time grand slam champion Osaka said she felt a bit “hesitant” at times, which she put down to her time out of the game.

She said she couldn’t help but be disappointed by the result.

“The competitor in me is not happy that I’m not winning these matches [but] I think I just need to work hard and play a lot more matches and then hopefully my dreams will come true,” Osaka said.

“I thought it was a really good match for me and I felt like I did the best that I could possibly do.

“I mean, I still feel like a bit disappointed. I don’t know if I’m disappointed in myself – I don’t think that’s possible because I really feel like I couldn’t have done more with the circumstances.

“I thought I kept doing better as the match went on.”

Garcia was full of praise for her opponent and the standard of her tennis so soon after giving birth.

“She’s had an amazing career. She was away for 15 months. She’s been through a lot,” Garcia said.

“She’s a great girl and she’s done so much for our tennis in the last few years.

“Six months after giving birth she’s playing amazing already. We have to watch out.”

-AAP

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