Tunisian Anas Jaber, ranked second in the world, struggled to reach the second round of the Australian Open, the first of the four major tennis tournaments, and needed three sets to overcome Slovenian hurdle Tamara Zidanczyk, world number 98, 7-6 (10-8), 4-6, 6-1 on Tuesday.
And the runner-up of Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows last year found it difficult to serve her first serve and had to play a tiebreaker to settle the first set in her favor 7-6 (10-8) in 68 minutes, then lost the second set 4-6.
The 28-year-old Tunisian hit hard in the third set and won it easily 6-1, ending the match in her favor after two hours and 17 minutes.
Jaber, who reached the quarter-finals in Melbourne in 2020, will meet in the next round with the 49th American Alison Risky-Armitage or the 86th Czech Marketa Vondrousova.
Jaber, who suffered an injury to her left knee late last year, set herself two goals in 2023, to become the first Arab and African player to win one of the four major tournaments and to grab the top of the world rankings from the Polish city of Iga Chiviontec.
Jaber commented on her performance in the third set, saying, “I just tried to implement what my coach told me.”
“I wasn’t really doing it and he would kill me after the game,” she joked.
Jaber committed 49 direct errors throughout the match, most of them in the first and second groups, but she committed only six in the third.
“I just tried to be patient. It’s a tough sport and you definitely don’t want to play three sets here.”
Jaber, who missed last year’s Australian Open due to a back injury, won the Madrid and Berlin titles last year in a season he finished second in the world rankings.
It is Jaber’s 11th victory in her last 12 opening matches in the four Grand Slams, and the only loss was against Poland’s Magda Linnet, 52nd in the world, at Roland Garros last year.
France’s Caroline Garcia, the fourth, booked her ticket to the second round by easily defeating Canadian Catherine Sebov 6-3, 6-0, and Belarusian Arina Sabalenka joined her, fifth, by defeating Czech Teresa Martinkova 6-1, 6-4.
The second day of the tournament witnessed a heat wave, which forced the organizers to postpone the matches scheduled for the covered stadiums for a period of three hours.
A difficult qualification for Zverev
In men, Russian Andrei Rublev V knocked out Austrian Dominic Tim, runner-up in 2020, early when he beat him 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.
It is Rublev’s first victory this year after two losses he suffered in preparation for the Australian championship, and he set a date in the second round with Australian Max Purcell or Finn Emil Rossofiori.
“First, I’m glad I was able to qualify by winning three straight sets. It was very hot today so I’m very happy that I can save some energy for the next matches,” said Rublev, who reached the quarter-finals in Melbourne in 2021 and crowned four titles last year. “When you play against Dominic, it’s never easy.”
“We’re really good friends and I know he’s going through not easy times, so I just want to wish him all the best to get back to the same level he was before as soon as possible.”
The return of Tim, the champion of Flushing Meadows in 2020 and the runner-up of Roland Garros twice in 2018 and 2019, was not successful to the Australian championship for the first time since 2021 when he was bid farewell from the final price round, so he suffered an early loss, and he was the one who fought it this year after obtaining an invitation card.
The Austrian, who forced Serbian Novak Djokovic to play five sets in the final match of the Australian Championship in 2020, was absent from the stadiums for nine months due to the wrist injury he suffered during the 2021 season on grass courts.
Tim, formerly ranked third in the world and currently 98, confirmed that a rib problem hindered him against Rublev. “It happened during a serve in the second set,” he said.
He explained that despite the defeat, he remains confident of getting back to his best. “Yes, that’s the main goal, and I hope to do that now during this season. This tournament doesn’t change anything because I faced a really tough opponent.”
A difficult qualification for Zverev
German Alexander Zverev, the thirteenth in the world, booked his card with a difficult victory over Peruvian Juan Pablo Farias, the 103rd in the world, as he needed five sets and saluted twice in four hours.
Zverev, who has returned to participating in the four major tournaments since his withdrawal from the semi-finals of the French Open, lost the second major tournament to Spaniard Rafael Nadal due to an ankle injury, the first set 6-4, he responded in the second 6-1, then lost the third 5 7- Before he narrowly equalized by winning the fourth 7-6 (7-3), then he settled the last fifth in his favor 6-4.
“I’m tired … but I’m very happy. I was eager to come back. This match alone is enough to confirm all the work done,” Zverev said. “Whatever happens now, this tournament is a success for me.”
The 25-year-old suffered a ligament tear in his right ankle when he was ahead of Nadal (7-6, 6-6) in the semi-finals of Roland Garros, where he underwent surgery last June, and was absent from the stadiums until the beginning of this year, when he lost. Two matches in the Federation Cup competition.
Britain’s Andy Murray, the runner-up of Australia five times, saved a match point against Italy’s Matteo Berrettini XIII, runner-up at Wimbledon last year, to reach the second round after a marathon confrontation that lasted four hours and 49 minutes 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7 (7-7). 9) and 7-6 (10-6).
Berrettini, who reached the semi-finals in Australia last year, had a chance to settle the confrontation in the final set on Murray’s serve when he was leading 5-4 40-30, but he smashed it into the net.
The American Taylor Fritz reached the eighth round by defeating Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.