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Sunday, June 2, 2024

Australian Open 2024 LIVE updates: Kokkinakis, Tomljanovic lead Aussie charge; Swiatek, Alcaraz in action

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Latest scores and results ↗

Key matches

Here is a look at today’s key matches:

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Play suspended after Ruud takes opening set

11th seed Casper Ruud was visibility unhappy about the possibility of having to play on while the rain started to downpour at Melbourne Park.

After taking the first set fairly comfortably 6-3, he questioned with officials about the forecast.

He can be heard saying having to play in the rain was “a joke”.

The roof of Margaret Court Arena has now been closed and there is a delay due to the water on court.

Ever the heroes, the ballkids are now mopping it up with towels.

Casper Ruud.Credit: Getty

Crowd behind Zverev

By Carla Jaeger

The majority of the crowd at John Cain Arena seems to be gunning for Zverev, the sixth seeded player and reigning Olympic men’s singles champion.

He is also the star of an episode in the recently released season two of Netflix’s Break Point. The behind-the-scenes docuseries, which follows tennis’ biggest stars, has come under fire by fans for failing to address the domestic violence allegations against Zverev.

Netflix did not respond to questions put to them by this masthead about the omission.

Asked for his thoughts after beating Frenchman Hugo Gaston in straight sets on Wednesday, American player Taylor Fritz said while he hadn’t watched the episode, he understood why fans wanted the show to mention the allegations.

“If you are going to make an episode about him, then I definitely understand why people want that to be, at the very least, I guess included in the episode or touched on,” he said.

“I think they’re going to leave negative things out about everybody. Obviously I understand the public reaction to that. I think you could probably touch on the story aspect of his injury return, all that and also touch on everything else that’s going on with that.”

Zverev has denied all allegations put to him, including those made by the Russian former tennis player Olya Sharypova. Sharypova accused Zverev of violently abusing her during their relationship in 2019.

The alleged assaults detailed by Sharypova included Zverev covering her face with a pillow until she could no longer breathe, punching her in the face and grabbing her by the throat before pushing her against a wall.

As these alleged incidents occurred during ATP tournaments, the ATP Tour eventually launched a 15-month investigation, which was ultimately inconclusive.

The trial Zverev is facing in May is for a charge against another former partner, with whom he has a child.

Purcell down a break

Australian Max Purcell is taking on No.11 Casper Ruud on Margaret Court Arena. It’s a tough task, and the world No.45 Australian is already down a break early in the first set. It’s 3-1. He looked pretty disappointed, as you would expect.

Other games on the main courts are under way too. On Rod Laver Arena, Danielle Collins’ clash with world No.1 Iga Swiatek is on serve at 1-1, while Zverev took the first set over on John Cain Arena. That match is on serve in the second set. On 1573 Arena, No.19 Cameron Norrie dropped the first set against Italian qualifier Giulio Zeppieri, ranked 133 – and they’re currently locked in a tie-breaker to decide the second set.

AO socials button up on Zverev

By Carla Jaeger

Tennis Australia has so far avoided posting about Alexander Zverev’s matches on social media.

Usually, the Australian Open socials post key moments from matches as they happen. But just like on Tuesday night, when Zverev played his countryman Dominik Koepfer, nothing has been posted about this match under way at John Cain Arena.

Veteran US tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg, who has extensively reported on the domestic violence allegations against Zverev, which the German star denies, commended the move.

“Not a single tweet about Zverev’s match from the @AustralianOpen’s Twitter account tonight, which should show other orgs it can be done,” he posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Purcell with a flair for feeling

Home talent Max Purcell is one to let his feelings known.

In his opening round clash Máté Valkusz on Tuesday he complained of a ballkid distracting him by moving during a rally (he lost the point).

Max Purcell is through to the second round.Credit: Getty Images

After the match, which he won 3-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4, 7-5, he vented frustration at the uniforms of the security guards being bright yellow, the same colour as the balls.

“People were throwing up balls on serve. I’m like, ‘What the f— are you doing? I can’t see the ball’,” Purcell said at his press conference. “Any other colour, please.”

Today, he has a hard match up with 11th seed Casper Ruud for a shot at making his first ever third round appearance at a major.

The good news for him is he’ll have the crowd of his side. The bad news, security haven’t changed their uniforms. And the ballkids are still prone to movement here and there.

Zverev takes on Klein after trial talk

By Carla Jaeger

It’s a more subdued atmosphere here at John Cain Arena as Lukas Klein of Slovakia takes on sixth seed Alexander Zverev of Germany.

Zverev has been the subject of discussion this tournament after news broke that a date had been set for a trial in Berlin where he is contesting a domestic violence charge.

Alexander Zverev of Germany.Credit: AP

While the trial was known to the tennis world, it raised questions about whether it was appropriate for the 26-year-old to remain on the professional tour players’ council, which he was elected to this month.

That council meets several times a year and makes recommendations to both ATP management and the board.

In a post-match interview on Thursday ↗, Zverev said he had no reason to stand aside from the leadership role, and he believed he had the confidence of his tennis colleagues to continue.

In an awkward exchange, the only questions he got in English during that press conference were about his trial. Zverev pushed back when told there were “some people” who insisted he shouldn’t be playing tennis at all.

“Like who? Journalists are saying that, some, who are actually interested more in this story to write about and more about the clicks than the actual truth,” he said.

World No.1 Swiatek back in action against American

Women’s singles favourites Iga Swiatek survived a challenging first round contest with former champion Sofia Kenin on Tuesday – she won 7-6(2) 6-2 – to progress to today.

In just over 20 minutes, at noon, she’ll front centre court again, to face USA’s Danielle Collins, 2022 Australian Open finalist and world No. 52.

The Polish world No. 1 Swiatek is now on a winning streak of 17 matches and in fine form. So, it’s a hard ask for the American, but we’ve already seen a slew of upsets this tournament.

Just yesterday, previously touted title contender Ons Jabeur was knocked out by 16-year-old sensation Mirra Andreeva.

So, anything can happen. Aren’t grand slams fun!

Today’s action to kick off

The thwack of tennis balls is about to get under way with the first match of the day on John Cain Arena between Alexander Zverev and Lukas Klein.

An hour later, the first Aussie will take to the court– Max Purcell for his tough match against world No. 11 Casper Ruud on Margaret Court Arena.

Not before 4pm, Thanasi Kokkinakis will back up his five-set thriller on Tuesday with Sebastian Ofner with a contest against world No. 13 Grigor Dimitrov. Knowing Kokka, that one could go for well over four hours.

Ajla Tomljanovic.Credit: Getty

A big one to watch as the sun sets is Ajla Tomljanovic, who will headline the night against Jelena Ostapenko in a rematch of their third-round clash Wimbledon in 2021. Four games up in the deciding set of that match, Tomljanovic accused Ostapenko of faking an injury.

The pair exchanged some heated words on court, which included Ostapenko telling the Aussie she had “zero respect” and Tomljanovic hiting back: “You’re one to talk.”

Fans will be watching these two very closely. Who are you excited for today? Hit us in the comments!

Rafa’s Saudi deal makes a splash at home

Rafael Nadal’s decision to “grow the game” in Saudi Arabia is making a splash in his native Spain for all the wrong reasons.

In a column entitled “Don’t go, Rafa”, El Pais newspaper columnist Manuel Jabois writes: “A tennis player who always boasted about his aversion to extremes lands in the Saudi dictatorship, and has ended up advertising the worst of all.”

In a bold public relations move, and amid accusations that Saudi Arabia uses its public investment fund to engage in “sportswashing” ↗ of its human rights record, the Saudi Tennis Federation said the deal involved Nadal visiting each year to support “the development of boys and girls in the sport as well as grow further interest in tennis”.

Rafael Nadal withdrew from this year’s Australian Open due to injury.Credit: Getty Images

A star is born: Behind the rise of the Siberian teen sensation

By Richard Llewelyn Evans

Ons Jabeur is no more this Open. Her quest for the title extinguished by 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva on Wednesday.

Last year, at 15, she was beaten in three sets by her best friend, Alina Korneeva, in the junior girls’ final on Rod Laver Arena.

One year on, Andreeva has ignited the 2024 Australian Open, dismantling the sixth seed Ons Jabeur in 54 minutes and for the loss of just two games. It is not an understatement to announce that a new star of the sport has arrived.

Mirra Andreeva.Credit: Getty

But her backstory is worth the time to go through.

Korneeva and Andreeva were different from the other junior players: confident and articulate youngsters who had uprooted early to train and travel the world. Korneeva had moved from Moscow to France. Andreeva had relocated from the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk to an academy in Cannes.

Each, in the final, were half a world from home, marooned by politics and banned from representing their country by name.

You can read more about it here ↗.

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