Welcome to our live coverage of day three of the Australian Open.
Weather wreaked havoc on Tuesday as extreme heat saw play suspended before the rains came rolling in, resulting in 14 singles matches being stopped and pushed back into an already packed schedule.
Ultimately it was Novak Djokovic’s day as the Serbian superstar returned to Rod Laver and dazzled fans with an almighty opening round display.
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The conditions at Melbourne Park on Wednesday will be in stark contrast to what unfolded Tuesday with cooler temperatures to greet fans and players after overnight showers.
9.30am – ‘Tanking’ allegation levelled against star
Thanasi Kokkinakis was in devastating form during his opening round encounter against Italian Fabio Fognini.
His biggest rival was the Melbourne conditions which forced the matched to be stopped with the Aussie leading 6-1, 6-2, 4-2.
The two men will return to the court on Wednesday to finish off their match but it was the display of the former world number nine which raised eyebrows
Channel 9 commentator Roger Rasheed was left questioning the Italian after his nonchalant efforts throughout the match.
“You want to gauge Thanasi Kokkinakis’ form. Well, he’s hitting the ball nicely from both sides, serving well, got good rhythm, moving nicely. So from his side, his campaign is very solid,” Rasheed said.
“But his opponent hasn’t yet tested him … and put him under any duress.
“Shots like that have come off the Italian’s racquet again and again.”
It was a far cry from what he has produced on the court over the years of his career.
“The Italian likes to play shots,” Rasheed said.
“He’s got a big imagination on the court. He’s a shotmaker. He’s not just going to just hang around … generally he wants to be doing something with the ball.”
6.15am – Star’s x-rated remark stuns AO crowd
World number two Ons Jabeur faced a tougher than expected opening round clash, advancing into the second round after a hard-fought 7-6, 4-6, 6-1 victory over Tamara Zidansek.
But it was in her oncourt interview after the victory when Jabeur set tongues wagging with an x-rated remark about her husband.
The Tunisian star was asked about her recovery and if ice baths would be coming into play, her response had eyebrows raising across the country.
“Yeah ice baths and I’m going to make my husband work tonight … lot of massage and good recovery,” Jabeur said.
After a brief pause and some cheers from the crowd, Jabeur clarified her unexpectedly x-rated comment.
“Massage guys, massage,” she said.
“For those who don’t know my husband is also my fitness coach and does everything for me.”
6am – Chair umpire hunts down towel thief
Wild scenes unfolded at the Australian Open after Lin Zhu and Rebecca Marino had just finished their opening round encounter with Zhu claiming the 6-2, 6-4 victory.
As the two players were standing at the net shaking hands, Marino quickly let her opponent know that a fan had done the unthinkable and stolen her towel.
“Somebody just took your towel,” Marino said.
Enter chair umpire James Keothavong. The British umpire sprung into action as he leapt off his chair and went after the thief.
“Oi,” Keothavong shouted as he raced across the court and out into the sea of fans around Melbourne Park. Unfortunately the cameras didn’t pick up what happened next.
6am – Djoker, Murray reign on wild day
Novak Djokovic enjoyed a rousing reception on a winning return to the Australian Open on Tuesday and Andy Murray rolled back the years to stun Matteo Berrettini in a classic.
On a day of bans on Russian flags and weather-induced disruption, two of the sport’s biggest names belatedly brought the focus back on tennis in Melbourne.
A heavy title favourite, the 35-year-old Djokovic was back after his deportation last year because of his stance on Covid vaccines.
If the Serb was worried about how he might be received by the Melbourne Park crowd, he needn’t have been – the nine-time Australian Open champion walked out to loud cheers.
Against the backdrop of chants of “Nole”, Djokovic sent Spain’s 75th-ranked Roberto Carballes Baena packing at Rod Laver Arena, 6-3, 6-4, 6-0, to surge into round two.
“Thank you for giving me such a welcoming reception that I could only dream of,” said Djokovic, who is chasing a record-equalling 22nd major title.
“I feel really happy that I’m back here in Australia and on the court where I have had the biggest success in my career.”
Prior to that, the day had belonged to another 35-year-old in Murray – and Melbourne’s famously fickle weather.
The Briton saved match point to defeat Italy’s 13th seed Berrettini 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7 (7/9), 7-6 (10/6) in 4hrs 49mins at Rod Laver Arena, where the roof was closed because of the extreme heat.
“I will be feeling this this evening and tomorrow,” said the former world number one, who plays with a metal hip after career-saving surgery.
“But right now unbelievably happy and proud of myself.”
As the mercury rose, the heat forced play to be halted on outside courts. The roofs were closed on the three main stadiums: Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and John Cain Arena.
Play resumed on the outside courts about three hours later, only to be disrupted again in the evening when a storm hit, dumping torrential rain that eventually saw some matches suspended for the day.