Dual defending champion Roger Federer headlines night 1 of the 2019 Australian Open. (Photo by PAUL CROCK / AFP)
Dual defending champion Roger Federer headlines night 1 of the 2019 Australian Open. (Photo by PAUL CROCK / AFP)Source: AFP

Ageless Roger Federer said Sunday he was in a confident mood and warned his rivals he was “playing good tennis” as he aims for a third successive Australian Open title. Follow live below!

The Swiss master enjoyed a successful Hopman Cup warm-up in Perth and knows that at even the grand old age of 37 he has a great chance of a record seventh Melbourne crown and 21st major victory.

“I’m playing good tennis. I’m confident that I think it needs a good performance by my opponent probably to beat me,” said the third seed, who opens his defence against Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin in Monday’s night match on Rod Laver Arena.

The dual defending champion headlines night one’s action, along with top-ranked Aussie, 15th seed Ash Barty. She faces Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum on Margaret Court Arena.

ALL THE ACTION FROM AUSTRALIAN OPEN DAY 1

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“I think the focus really is on those early rounds, especially tomorrow,” said Federer, whose victory against Marin Cilic in last year’s final was his 20th Grand Slam title.

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“I know what Denis did to Novak. I watched basically the entire game a couple years ago when he beat Novak here.

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“I’ve had some tough ones against him in the past. He can play well in fast courts, and that’s what it’s going to be a little bit here as well,” added the world number three, who has won all six previous encounters against Istomin.

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Federer has skipped the European clay court season in recent years as he tries to manage his workload to extend a remarkable career, which shows no signs of slowing.

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He said he hadn’t made a decision on whether to play on clay this year and wasn’t sure why he had not suffered major injuries like Rafael Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray, who will retire this year with chronic hip pain despite being six years younger than Federer.

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“I think you also need a little bit of luck. Maybe also the way I play tennis, maybe it’s smoother than the other guys,” said Federer, renowned for his flowing movement around the court.

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“It just maybe looks that way. I work extremely hard in the matches as well. It just maybe doesn’t come across so much.”

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NIGHT 1 ORDER OF PLAY

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Rod Laver Arena (from 7pm)

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Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) v 3-Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)

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Denis Istomin (UZB) v 3-Roger Federer (SUI)

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Margaret Court Arena (from 7pm)

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15-Ashleigh Barty (AUS) v Luksika Kumkhum (THA)

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6-Marin Cilic (CRO) v Bernard Tomic (AUS)

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Melbourne Arena (from 6pm)

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22-Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) v Andy Murray (GBR)

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8-Petra Kvitova (CZE) v Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK)

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1573 Arena (from 5pm)

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Matthew Ebden (AUS) v Jan-Lennard Struff (GER)

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If you can’t see the blog, tap here.

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– with AFP

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It has been a solid day one for the Aussies with one pushing Rafael Nadal, three local women advancing and our top-ranked man Alex de Minaur up a set early. Follow live below!

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Nadal downed James Duckworth in straight sets on Rod Laver Arena, 6-4 6-3 7-5, showing no signs of the injuries that ruined his lead-up to the season’s first grand slam. Duckworth did produce some late fight in the third set, breaking when down 3-5.

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“It’s always different pains appearing in the first week after a while (off) but that’s how it works, and I am just really trying to be better and better every day,” Nadal said post-match.

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“That’s what I am doing. I think that I had a really good week of practice for this tournament and that is a positive start for me.”

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Top-ranked Aussie man Alex de Minaur is two sets up on Show Court 1, less than 48 hours after his Sydney International title win. He leads Portugal’s Pedro Sousa 6-4 7-5.

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AUS OPEN BLUNDER AS HISTORIC FIRST TURNS INTO CONFUSION

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THE DJOKER-LED ‘WAR’ SET TO DRIVE MEN’S TENNIS INTO CRISIS

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AUS OPEN CONFIDENTIAL: MURRAY’S CHEEKY WHACK FOR KYRGIOS

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Three Aussie women are through to the second round already, with Kimberly Birrell defeating Paula Badosa Gibert 6-4 6-2 and fellow wildcard Zoe Hives stunning American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-1 6-2.

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Meanwhile Astra Sharma downed compatriot Priscilla Hon 7-5 4-6 6-1. A potential third-round clash between Sharma and Aussie women’s no.1 Ash Barty was made more likely when No.22 seed Jelena Ostapenko, Sharma’s potential next opponent, lost her first round match to Maria Sakkari.

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Earlier on centre court, 2008 champion Maria Sharapova decided she wanted to avoid as much of the mid-30 degree heat as possible.

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Sharapova delivered a rare grand slam double bagel to young Brit Harriet Dart, winning 6-0 6-0 in the first match on Rod Laver Arena. Dart left the court in tears, although she will receive $75,000 for her first round loss.

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There was an early testy moment as Sharapova was cited for taking too long to commence her serve, then questioning the chair umpire about the decision.

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The commentators then brought up that not only was Sharapova taking her time while serving, she was also getting Dart to wait for her to be ready to return.

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“You’re not meant to do that – you’re meant to play to the server’s speed,” commentator John Fitzgerald said.

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In the second round Sharapova will face Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson.

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The first tiebreaker under the new match-ending format has been run and won, with Britain’s Katie Boulter defeating Ekaterina Makarova in the first-to-ten conclusion to their match. She won 6-0 4-6 7-6(6).

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Boulter will face Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, who won her first ever main draw match at the Australian Open, defeating Russian qualifier Anna Kalinskaya 6-1 6-4. Despite her lack of track record in Melbourne, Sabalenka is seeded 11th and is the third-favourite to win the whole tournament in betting markets.

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Fifth seed Kevin Anderson avoided a scare, dropping a set but eventually prevailing against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-3 5-7 6-2 6-1.

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Women’s No.2 seed Angelique Kerber moved through to the second round in straight sets, defeating Polona Hercog 6-2 6-2.

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Australia’s top-ranked woman is in action later tonight, with No. 15 seed Ash Barty battling Luksika Kumkhum from 7pm.

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ORDER OF PLAY (All courts from 11am AEDT unless stated)

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Rod Laver Arena

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30-Maria Sharapova (RUS) def Harriet Dart (GBR), 6-0 6-0

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2-Rafael Nadal (ESP) def James Duckworth (AUS), 6-4 6-3 7-5

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2-Angelique Kerber (GER) def Polona Hercog (SLO), 6-2 6-2

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From 7pm

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Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) v 3-Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)

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Denis Istomin (UZB) v 3-Roger Federer (SUI)

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Margaret Court Arena

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Danielle Collins (USA) def 14-Julia Georges (GER), 2-6 7-6(5) 6-4

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5-Sloane Stephens (USA) def Taylor Townsend (USA), 6-4 6-2

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27-Alex de Minaur (AUS) v Pedro Sousa (POR)

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From 7pm

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15-Ashleigh Barty (AUS) v Luksika Kumkhum (THA)

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6-Marin Cilic (CRO) v Bernard Tomic (AUS)

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Melbourne Arena

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5-Kevin Anderson (RSA) def Adrian Mannarino (FRA), 6-3 5-7 6-2 6-1

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Maria Sakkari (GRE) def 22-Jelena Ostapenko (LAT), 6-1 3-6 6-2

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13-Kyle Edmund (GBR) v Tomas Berdych (CZE)

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Not before 6pm

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22-Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) v Andy Murray (GBR)

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Not before 7pm

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8-Petra Kvitova (CZE) v Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK)

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1573 Arena

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19-Caroline Garcia (FRA) def Jessika Poncet (FRA), 6-2 6-3

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20-Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) def Janko Tipsarevic (SRB), 4-6 6-3 6-1 6-4

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9-Kiki Bertens (NED) def Alison Riske (USA), 6-3 6-3

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Not before 5pm

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Matthew Ebden (AUS) v Jan-Lennard Struff (GER)

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Court 3

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11-Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) def Anna Kalinskaya (RUS), 6-1 6-4

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14-Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) def Matteo Berrettini (ITA), 6-7(3) 6-4 6-3 7-6(4)

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Ellen Perez (AUS) v Yafan Wang (CHN)

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Feliciano Lopez (ESP) v Jordan Thompson (AUS)

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Other Aussies in action

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Court 7

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First match: Astra Sharma (AUS) def Priscilla Hon (AUS), 7-5 4-6 6-1

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Second match: Kimberly Birrell (AUS) def Paula Badosa Gibert (ESP), 6-4 6-2

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Fourth match: Federico Delbonis (ARG) v John Millman (AUS)

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Court 8

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Second match: Zoe Hives (AUS) def Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA), 6-1 6-2

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Court 13

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Second match: Jason Kubler (AUS) v Thomas Fabbiano (ITA)

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Court 14

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Third match: Marc Polmans (AUS) v Denis Kudla (USA)

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Follow Day 1 of the 2019 Australian Open in our live blog below.

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If you can’t see it, tap here.

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World No.2 Rafael Nadal says Aussie James Duckworth doesn’t play tennis the way he “understands tennis”, praising the battler for his performance in their first round match.

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Nadal dismissed any concerns regarding his fitness with the 6-4 6-3 7-5 win over Duckworth, but seemed confused by his local opponent.

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“Today he went on court with the determination to not play tennis the way that, you know, I understand tennis,” Nadal said in his post-match press conference.

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“He went on court, you know — it’s not a negative point. Not at all. Believe me. He went on court probably doing a thing that works well for him, and he gives him some chances.

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“And he played smart and he played well. When you play against a player that he wants to hit all the shots, of course you can have breaks against, because you are sometimes in his hands.

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The 17-time Grand Slam champion withdrew from the Brisbane International earlier this month due to a thigh strain, after his 2018 campaign was brought to an end due to ankle surgery.

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Nadal, 32, didn’t have it all his own way, but remained in control throughout an opening round contest that lasted just over two hours on Rod Laver Arena.

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The Spaniard will now face either Australian Matthew Ebden or German Jan-Lennard Struff in the second round on Wednesday.

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Nadal, who has won more than US$103 million in prizemoney and has a winning percentage of 83 per cent, beat Roger Federer to win the Australian Open in 2009 and has made three other finals across his distinguished career.

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If you can’t see the blog, tap here.

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