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  • Jason Regan

Kokkinakis exits Open but Barty through safely

Thanasi Kokkinakis' tennis renaissance has come to a screeching halt with the Australian Open fan-favourite squandering the chance to set up a blockbuster clash with red-hot Rafael Nadal.

Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia is seen during their Mens singles match against Yannick Hanfmann of Germany on Day 1 of the Australian Open tennis tournament, at Melbourne Park, in Melbourne, Monday, January 17, 2022. (AAP Image/James Ross)

The 25-year-old snared his maiden ATP Tour title in Adelaide last week but couldn't replicate that form at Melbourne Park on Monday as he suffered a shock 6-2 6-3 6-2 first-round defeat to German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann.

It was world No.126 Hanfmann's first victory in seven attempts at a grand slam. And it came amid a flurry of unforced errors from the local fancy as Kokkinakis gifted his opponent 42 points and failed to capitalise on any of the eight break points he earned.

Had he advanced, Kokkinakis would have matched his best singles result at a grand slam and ridden a six-match winning streak into a second-round meeting with 20-time major winner Nadal.

Instead, he was left to ponder what might have been, exiting in the Australian Open first round for the third time in six career appearances.

Conversely, Women's World No.1 Ash Barty stormed into the Australian Open second round, ruthlessly beating Lesia Tsurenko 6-0 6-1 in an early statement victory.

Ashleigh Barty of Australia plays a shot during her first Round Women's singles match against Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine on Day 1 of the Australian Open, at Melbourne Park, in Melbourne, Monday, January 17, 2022. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

A steely-eyed Barty raced through the straight-sets victory in just 54 minutes to continue her perfect start to the year.

Australia's world No.1 opened the season with singles and doubles glory in Adelaide and stamped her Open favouritism once more on Monday night.

"It's certainly nice to be back on home soil and playing as well as I did tonight. It was a lot of fun out here," Barty said.
"I felt like it was nice and clean. End-to-end I did a good job in adjusting.
"Tonight it was just nice and solid to get out here and play a decent match and feel like I enjoyed it."

The top seed also played Tsurenko in the first round at Melbourne Park in 2020. On that occasion, Barty had to fight back from a set down to reach the second round.

But there were few moments of resistance from Tsurenko this time around as an imperious Barty took just 24 minutes to claim the first set, dropping only 12 points.

Barty staved off an early attack from Tsurenko, comfortably saving two break points when leading 2-0, then kicked into another gear to seize the upper hand.

The top seed was similarly dominant in the second set, racing through the first five games. Barty spurned two match points on Tsurenko's serve that could have earned her first-round double-bagel wins at the Open two years in a row.

But the Wimbledon champion made no mistake on her own serve, closing out victory in less than an hour.

Barty will play Lucia Bronzetti on Wednesday after the Italian qualifier beat Russia's Varvara Gracheva 3-6 6-2 6-3. 


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