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Australian Open 2009
Melbourne Park, 19 January-1 February




LATEST ACTION (all times GMT)
606: DEBATE
To get involved use 606 or text us your views & comments on 81111. (Not all contributions can be used)

By Sam Lyon

1245: So that's about it from me - thanks for all your messages and don't forget to get on 606 if you want to discuss the day's play or make your predictions about the rest of the tournament. For example, there's some discussion now about the quality of Nadal's victory and there are some top points on both sides so get involved...
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Meanwhile, Piers will be back at around midnight to talk you through all the early matches, including those involving Ana Ivanovic, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, while I'll see you Wednesday morning to wrap things up with a bit of Andy Roddick-Xavier Malisse and the rest. Sleep well folks, it's going to be another cracking day's play.

1234: Well well well, nearly 12 hours after Andy Murray breezes into the second round thanks to Andrei Pavel's withdrawal through injury at nearly 0100 GMT this morning, Rafael Nadal brutalises his way past a stunned Christophe Rochus to join the Scot - and Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, among others - in winning through the opening stage.

In between we had Lleyton Hewitt's defeat, Elena Baltacha's fine victory and a host of other decent displays from the likes of the Williams sisters, Kuznetsova, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils - beautiful scenes.


THIRD SET

Chris Bailey
"That really was an outstanding performance from Rafael Nadal, regardless of the opposition, and it has clearly laid a marker to the others in the men's draw. Brilliant."
Chris Bailey on 5 Live sports extra

Nadal 6-0 6-2 6-2 Rochus
Four utterly brutal forehand winners wrap the job up inside an hour and 20 minutes for Rafael Nadal and Rochus can only smile wryly at the sheer ferocity of the Spaniard's tennis. A total of 47 winners from Nadal, there, compared to seven from Rochus - that tells the story kind of perfectly.

Nadal 6-0 6-2 5-2 Rochus
More admirable resolve from Rochus as he battles back from 15-40 down, saving two break points, as he forces a couple of errors from Nadal. It simply makes Rafa angry, though, and two staggering forehand winners see him break again and he will serve for the match next up...

"Is it me or is the surface playing really fast this year?"
waldovski on 606
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Nadal 6-0 6-2 4-2 Rochus
Rafa rips through another utterly one-sided service game and this is undoubtedly the most complete and impressive performance from any of the top players so far in this tournament. Anyone who says different (*cough* on 606 *cough*) has an agenda, in my opinion...
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Nadal 6-0 6-2 3-2 Rochus
Yet another gasp-inducing forehand winner down the line from Nadal cannot stop Rochus gaining the hold - admirable guts being shown here by the Belgian, but he is undoubtedly doing little more than delaying the inevitable.

Nadal 6-0 6-2 3-1 Rochus
Three thunderous forehand winners on the trot and Nadal is absolutely annihilating Rochus, here.

Nadal 6-0 6-2 2-1 Rochus
Yet another moment of genius from Nadal as he chases down a fine Rochus lob to produce an unplayable one of his own to move to 30-15 up. Rochus replies but Nadal shifts his weight brilliantly at 40-30 up to produce a dreamy forehand winner and that's the break.

Nadal 6-0 6-2 1-1 Rochus
Nadal may not be impressing Mycroft, below, but he most certainly is those in the Rod Laver Arena, not least when he produces passing shots like at 15-15 when a blink-and-you-miss-it backhand down the line bemuses Rochus. He goes on to hold to 15.

"Rafa always destroys this kind of weak opposition, who have no answer to his repetitive ball-bashing. He's not in stunning form - he's doing what he always does. Let's wait and see what happens when he plays someone who can actually return the ball."
Mycroft on 606
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Nadal 6-0 6-2 0-1 Rochus
Oh ho - rally of the match so far as Nadal pulls and pushes Rochus around the court, only for the Belgian to stay in the point with a fine backhand overhead and then win it with another overhead at the net. It helps him to the hold - Nadal pushing a couple of backhands wide - and Rochus leads in a set for the first time.

SECOND SET

Nadal 6-0 6-2 Rochus
And that's the second set wrapped up - with an ace down the 'T' - and after just 48 minutes, Nadal is 2-0 up. Roko Karanusic, the man up next should Rafa see off Rochus, can be heard booking his return flight to Croatia already.

"As a Rafa fan, I'm for a win - but your descriptions on the text feed and the score line says to me Rochus looks like a rabbit trapped in a set of headlights with only his racquet as protection!"
Alex at work via text on 81111

Nadal 6-0 5-2 Rochus
Nadal is so comfortable he's trying a few things out - lobs, drop-shots and so on - and much to Rochus's chagrin it is working out more often than not. A couple of stunning backhand winners underline the Spaniard's supremacy and a Rochus double fault and then Nadal forehand winner help Rafa to yet another break.

Chris Bailey
"There has been a lot of talk before this tournament about how Andy Murray is the favourite and how he could win his first Grand Slam - but to do so he'll have to beat Nadal and Federer in all likelihood and Nadal appears to be in stunning form."
Chris Bailey on 5 live sports extra

Nadal 6-0 4-2 Rochus
Rochus may be getting to grips with his own serve but, if anything, his chances of even getting close to the Nadal serve are receding by the minute. A couple of aces precede a stunning backhand crosscourt winner and that's the game to love.

Nadal 6-0 3-2 Rochus
Nadal kerplunks another backhand winner - but then lets his standards slip with a couple of unforced errors and Rochus's first ace of the match brings up the second game of the match. A turning point perhaps? No, probably not...

Nadal 6-0 3-1 Rochus
Erm... as you were Rochus... Nadal does not take kindly to the Belgian's previous hold as he brutalises his way to the game to love. The sheer velocity of some of Nadal's groundstrokes have Rochus reeling as if from a hail of bullets and I get the impression that previous game might just be the Belgian's only highlight in this match...

Nadal 6-0 2-1 Rochus
Stop the press again! Nadal twice goes long with backhands and, for the very time in the match, Rochus has a game point. Tension descends on the RLA - and the Belgian does it! Nadal goes wide with a forehand return and the crowd go wild as Rochus holds to avoid, at least, the triple bagel. Christophe allows himself a smile, Nadal looks as if someone's broken into his house at Easter and stolen all his chocolate eggs.

"Wee Nads is on fire today, but he'd better not use up all his good shots, he's got to meet Scotland's No1 later in the competition!"
AJ fae Fife on 606
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Nadal 6-0 2-0 Rochus
Stop the press! An unforced error from Nadal! Worry not, though, Rafa fans - the Spaniard has already hit 17 winners and he holds to 30 when another Rochus unforced error crashes into the net. Christophe already looks a broken man.

Nadal 6-0 1-0 Rochus
A Rochus forehand volley winner brings loud cheers from the RLA - they're desperate to see a bit more of a contest here - but Christophe can still barely resist Nadal's relentless attack and two Rafa backhand winners followed by a wide backhand from the Belgian sees the Spaniard break to deuce.

FIRST SET

Nadal 6-0 Rochus
I'll be honest, Christophe could be playing with brother Olivier - ranked 119 in the world - and Nadal would still be blitzing this match. In fact, the entire Rochus family, including any family pets and long lost cousins they may have, could be facing the Spaniard all at once right now and Rafa would be winning. The world number one wraps up a brutal first set 6-0, and to say this is one-sided would be as obvious as saying Andy Murray could do with a tan.

1124: A few scares, but James Blake has come through his first-round match against Frank Dancevic just about unscathed 6-4 6-3 7-5 - he'll now get a few hours sleep before rising to watch Barack Obama's inauguration later no doubt. Can you tell I'm quite excited by that?

Nadal 5-0 Rochus
Rochus shows admirable guts to force his way to 30-30 and then opt for a serve-volley approach next point - but Rafa reads it brilliantly and whips yet another forehand crosscourt winner to bring up break point, sealed when the Belgian goes long with a backhand.

Nadal 4-0 Rochus
Rochus almost breaks into a smile as he snatches two points off the Nadal serve thanks to a couple of net cords - unfortunately, though, Nadal already has three of his own and the Spaniard holds with a neat volley at the net.

Chris Bailey
"This is pure ferocity from Nadal. Rochus hasn't got a clue how to counter it."
Chris Bailey on 5 Live sports extra

Nadal 3-0 Rochus
What Rochus can probably do without in the face of such pace, power and precision is unforced errors - so when he throws a forehand wide to hand Nadal two break-again points, you can almost hear the sighs of exasperation and fear from the Belgian's camp. A short second serve doesn't help his cause next point and Nadal blitzes a backhand winner.

Nadal 2-0 Rochus
Easy as you like on serve for Nadal, who already looks far too strong for the diminutive Rochus. Every groundstroke rips through the RLA like a bullet and the Spaniard consolidates the break.

Nadal 1-0 Rochus
Two crashing passing shots get Nadal off to a flying start and even though Rochus battles back to 30-30 with a couple of decent first serves, another brutal forehand earns Rafa the break. Ominous opening for Rochus fans. Wherever they may be?!

1106: We're moments away now folks, are you ready?

Chris Bailey
"Rafael Nadal is possibly the only man in the sport at the moment that could win all four Grand Slams... so let's hope this is done in about an hour and a half so we can get to the bar..."
Chris Bailey on 5 Live sports extra

"Man, I was hoping Rafa would at least train wearing a sleeveless top! Sad times."
Un-Bell-ievable on 606
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1102: Two minutes to the start of play between Nadal and Rochus - Nadal again opting for the short-sleeve shirt over the shirtless number he previously wore, while Rochus looks a little like turkey on Christmas eve - scared witless. It could all be mind games of course. I doubt it, but it could be...

1057: We're back on serve over on the MCA as Dancevic and Blake continue to go toe-to-toe and swap breaks. America's Blake still firmly in the driving seat mind...

1053: Raptuous reception for Nadal in the RLA and the Spaniard wins the toss and will receive first. Any thoughts on how this one will go? Or how long it will last?
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1050: Right then, Rafael 'still bigger than Muzza?' Nadal (it won't catch on...) is up next in the Rod Laver Arena against Belgium's Christophe Rochus... the pair have never faced each other in an ATP or Grand Slam event, but a ranking of One v 75 tells you some of what you need to know - that Rafa is the massive favourite...

"Blake is on form as he breaks Dancevic in the first game of the third set. Dancevic looks beaten now so I would expect that Blake will rap this match up very soon."
eirebilly on 606
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1041: Ouch. Klara Zakopalova resembles a Brit winning a Golden Globe as she completely falls apart in a cringe-worthy breaker to gift it to Sam Stosur 7-0, the Australian wrapping up a decent 7-6 7-6 win in front of a partisan crowd.

1037: James Blake duly wraps up the second set to lead Frank Dancevic 6-4 6-3, while Stosur and Zakopalova go to another tie-break to decide the second set... Rafael Nadal drums his fingers in the changing room...

"Live coverage on the website? Watching Rafa while I work? Fantastic!"
Un-Bell-ievable on 606
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1029: James Blake - in my opinion, just to confuse me - has broken Dancevic again to storm into a 5-2 lead in the second set.

1023: The flash photography has clearly halted on the MCA as Blake breaks back immediately - that match is 6-4 3-2 as it stands. Meanwhile, Nadal and Rochus don't know what to do with their pre-match warm-ups ahead of their tie in the Rod Laver Arena as first Zakopalova breaks Stosur to give herself the chance to serve for the second set, only for Stosur to hit back against serve to go to 7-6 4-5 - a tough one to call...

1018: Blake is not a happy bunny as some supporters' use of flash photography on the MCA interfere with his concentration and he is broken early in the second set by Dancevic. A bit like Spurs striker Darren Bent blaming a wolf-whistle for his astonishing miss against Portsmouth on Sunday, maybe, but worth a go I suppose...

1011: Samantha Stosur is back on serve in the second set against Zakopalova at 3-3, while James Blake breaks Dancevic in game 10 of the first set to win it 6-4 and go 1-0 up in their match on the MCA.

1008: Still far from plain sailing for Stosur in the Rod Laver Arena, with Zakopalova breaking the Australian in game four of the second set with the match well poised at 7-6 1-3. Meanwhile, Ivan Ljubicic has finally beaten down the resistance of Igor Kunitsyn - who has never got past the first round of a Grand Slam before - as the Croatian seals a 4-6 7-6 7-6 5-7 6-3 win to set up a second-round match against the in-form Mohammad Ali lookalike Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

0959: Cracking start to the match on the MCA as ninth seed James Blake bludgeons his way to an early break of serve against Dancevic, only for the Canadian to immediately break back to level at 4-4. Those two have met just once before, Blake winning in straight sets in Stockholm in 2007 - but Dancevic is a more formidable prospect these days. I'm trying to find a way to squeeze a Killers-esque "is he human, or is he Dancevic" type gag in, but am struggling, so I'm just going to fudge it in regardless. Forgive me.

"Andy 'the Muscle' Murray - I love it! I'm going to use it in the faint hope it catches on!"
sophtware_slump on 606

"Murray has given Rafa an inferiority complex about his biceps - that is why he has changed to shirts with sleeves in."
deecoco on 606
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"Judy Murray has just confirmed that the family are relocating from Dunblane... they are moving to Musselburgh ;)"
Fungus the Bogeyman on 606

0947: Relief all round the Rod Laver Arena as home-girl Samantha Stosur holds her nerve in the tie-break to win the first set 7-6 (7-5) against Klara Zakopalova. Lest we forget, Rafael Nadal follows these two onto court... Elsewhere, Guillermo Canas of Argentina has come through a bit of an epic match against Germany's Dieter Kindlmann 3-6 7-5 5-7 6-0 7-5.

"She didn't look too good today by all accounts, but I got 9-1 at a well known bookies for Dementieva to win the tournament - she's the form player in the women's draw. I'm not a big tennis fan but i snapped that up!"
Couchy in Hampshire via text on 81111

0940: US ninth seed James Blake's match against Canada's Frank Dancevic is now under way on the Margaret Court Arena - that's on serve early in the first.

"I haven't seen many shocks yet even in the women's draw, which is surprising..."
KelticPirate on 606
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0931: We're back live on our video streaming now people, so UK users can watch Samantha Stosur v Klara Zakopalova as it happens - the former has contrived to throw away a 5-1 lead in the first set and that match is now level at 5-5.
Live video - Australian Open

0926: It might be interesting to see how Venus Williams gets on in this tournament - it's the first major one I can remember in a while that she hasn't been battling injury? The American clinically disposed of Germany's Angelique Kerber 6-3 6-3 earlier and she says: "I'm feeling the best that I can. It's a real blessing for me (being injury-free), so now it's up to me what I can do with my racquet."

"Haas might not be a bad bet for the dark horse of the tournament, his tennis has looked very sharp today."
eirebilly on 606
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0921: James Blake will be next up on the Margaret Court Arena following Kuznetsova's victory, but that's it for the day's action on Show Court 2 as Germany's Tommy Haas completes a relatively simple 6-3 6-3 6-4 win over Eduardo Schwank of Argentina.

0913: A little less comfortable over on the Margaret Court Arena for eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, but the Russian wins through in three sets in the end, overcoming Australia's Anastasia Rodionova 6-2 3-6 6-3 to reach the second round.

0909: Sam Stosur looks to be making short work of her match against Zakopalova in the Rod Laver Arena as the Australian eases to a 5-1 lead in the first set of her first-round match.

0900: Happy happy, joy joy... the murky and mysterious world of 606 has opened its doors to welcome all who (register and) have an opinion. If it's particularly insightful and/or amusing, I may even post your comment on here and make you famous for, ooh, a good 17 seconds or so. Well it's something to tell the grand children isn't it...?
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0853: So, anyone wondering how Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is feeling after that brutal win over Juan Monaco? Well, guess who's working for you folks... "I try to play my best every time and I just try to be as good as I can be. But I'm not feeling any pressure."

0847: So what joys have we got remaining this morning (our time)? The big one, for our purposes anyway, is world number one Rafael Nadal's bow in this year's tournament as he takes on Christophe Rochus of Belgium - I'll be bringing you game-by-game updates on that later on - but before then number nine seed James Blake takes on Frank Dancevic, while ongoing at the moment we have home favourite Sam Stosur against Klara Zakopalova, Svetlana Kuznetsova facing Anastasia Rodionova and Tommy Haas edging his way to victory over Eduardo Schwank.

Basically, more than enough to keep you all-nighters going before Barack Obama's inauguration as President of the United States later! Can you stay up through the day? Yes we can! (Sorry...)
Order of play
Obama's inauguration

0835: I tell you what, that was a bit of a stellar shift from 'Newsboy' Newbery (that won't catch on...) wasn't it? Home favourite Lleyton Hewitt crashes out to Fernando Gonzalez, who joins Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gilles Simon, Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet in the second round of the men's draw, while the Williams sisters light up a cracking day's play in the women's draw, alongside wins for Amelie Mauresmo and Elena Dementieva, among others.

But, of course, the night belonged to Brit heroes Elena Baltacha - a straight sets winner over Anna-Lena Groenefeld - and Andy 'the Muscle' Murray (that might catch on...). You can watch Muzza's win as we speak people, get involved...

By Piers Newbery

0820: Any thoughts that Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was struggling for fitness have just been well and truly blown away - he looks back to his best as he thrashes Juan Monaco 6-4 6-4 6-0.

0812: Lleyton Hewitt on his first-round defeat by Fernando Gonzalez: "I think it's a good springboard for the rest of the year. I would have still liked to have gone a bit further in the tournament."

0802: Kuznetsova takes the first set against Rodionova and Tsonga moves two sets clear of Monaco. We've still got the night session to come, with Rafael Nadal up against Christophe Rochus.

0748: Svetlana Kuznetsova is out on Margaret Court Arena and going full-steam ahead at 4-1 up on Aussie Anastasia Rodionova. Spain's Fernando Verdasco, the 14th seed, demolishes France's Adrian Mannarino 6-0 6-2 6-2. Igor Andreev, the 18th seed, defeats off-duty superhero Peter Polansky 5-7 3-6 6-4 6-3 6-4.

0740: Serena on Barack Obama's inauguration: "This morning I was watching on the TV before I went out to play. I looked at my arm, and I practically had chill bumps."

Andy Murray
0735: You can watch a re-run of Murray v Pavel on the Red Button and this website from 0830 GMT in the UK.

0732: There is no stopping Tsonga, who breaks at the start of the second set. For those of you just joining us, we've had British success overnight with Andy Murray and Elena Baltacha, regulation wins for the Williams sisters, and a belter of a match that saw Fernando Gonzalez beat Lleyton Hewitt in five sets.

A celeb has been spotted at Melbourne Park

0722: Oh yes, 1970s maverick cop Eduardo Schwank is back. The Argentine is taking on Tommy Haas on Court Two. Tsonga serves out the first set against Monaco and is looking very good.

0713: Tsonga is showing no sign of the back injury that forced him out of Sydney last week and he leads Monaco 5-3. Fernando Verdasco, the 14th seed and a possible fourth-round opponent for Andy Murray, is two sets up on Adrian Mannarino.

0658: The penultimate point is one of the best of the first two days as Gael Monfils scrambles for France, earning and converting a match point for a 6-1 6-3 7-5 victory over Martin Vassallo Arguello.

0647: Monfils is at 5-5 in the third and desperately needs to finish it in this set as he is struggling physically. Fellow Frenchman, and last year's runner-up, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga takes to the Hisense Arena for his match against Juan Monaco.

0642: Out on Court Two, 12th seed Monfils is close to victory in the third set but appears to be struggling with a knee injury and is playing at half-pace for the moment.

0629: That's it, Fernando Gonzalez sees off Lleyton Hewitt 5-7 6-2 6-2 3-6 6-3 for a memorable win and ends Hewitt's hopes at his home Grand Slam for another year. Venus Williams seals a 6-3 6-3 win over Germany's Angelique Kerber.

0619: Venus has, not entirely surprisingly, recovered from her early lapse in the second set to lead 4-3. But we can't stay away from Rod Laver - "Vammmossss!!!!" That's right, Gonzo thumps a forehand cross-court winner past Hewitt to break serve for 4-2 in the fifth.

0611: Gonzalez breaks, then is broken back, then has a medical timeout for treatment on his leg. Never a dull moment with Gonzo. After a lengthy massage some lotion is applied to his left thigh and the trainer then promises, "I'll come back."

0601: It's squeaky bum time for Gonzalez when he's 15-40 down but the Chilean thumps a huge forehand to get back to deuce, and he saves another break point with a drop shot. On Hisense Arena, Venus has slipped 3-1 down in the second set against Kerber, while on Court Two Monfils is a set and a break up against Vassallo Arguello.

0549: The Rod Laver Arena erupts as Hewitt levels at two sets all against Gonzalez, who takes a swipe at the ground with his racquet but fails to do any damage.

0541: It's all in the gesticulation, Colin. Venus takes the first set 6-3 against Kerber, and Gonzo gets a time violation but disappointingly does not react.

0534: "Thank goodness for you and your textual updates Piers, they are the only thing keeping me awake! Trying to pull an all-nighter to study for my Italian exam. You don't happen to know any do you?!"
From Colin via text on 81111

0529: Apologies for the lengthy delay between updates but computer problems prompted a Gonzo-style outburst - I nearly chucked my trainers in the bin. In the meantime, Hewitt has broken in the fourth set and looks like going to a fifth with Gonzalez. Monfils has gone a set up and Ernests Gulbis has beaten Albert Montanes 6-3 6-2 6-3.

0511: Gonzalez goes two sets to one up on Hewitt, while Venus Williams moves into an early 2-0 lead over Angelique Kerber on the Hisense Arena.

It's good news for a Briton in Melbourne

0501: Let the bells ring out, for we have a British woman into the second round as Elena Baltacha wraps up a 6-1 6-4 win over Germany's Anna-Lena Groenefeld. That completes a pretty handy day for Scotland following Andy Murray's earlier efforts Next up for Baltacha is 2006 champion Amelie Mauresmo.

It's good news for a Briton in Melbourne
Someone is having a tantrum in Melbourne

0450: The Baltacha fightback is on - she recovers the break and levels at 4-4, just two games from victory. And Gonzo breaks Hewitt early in the third set, which prompts a Hewitt code violation for "verbal abuse". Feisty stuff.

0443: "Piers. Good to see andy go through comfortably. Great for Baltacha too. And great stuff from Hewitt and Gonzalez."
From Andrew, Edinburgh, via text on 81111

0439: Gonzalez makes it one set all against Hewitt with the most delightful and delicate lob volley you will ever see. Not really - he smashed a forehand down the line so hard he nearly flattened the line judge. Elsewhere, young tykes Ernests Gulbis and Gael Monfils have started their respective matches, and sixth seed Gilles Simon has beaten Pablo Andujar 6-4 6-1 6-1.

Someone is having a tantrum in Melbourne
0434: Ah, Gonzo. My favourite among many happy memories of the man came at last year's Wimbledon, when he was so incensed to lose he took off his trainers and chucked them in the courtside bin. Genius. Not sure I'd want to bite his ears though. He's a double break up on Hewitt now and close to levelling at one set all, but Baltacha is a break down in the second set.

0427: "Gonzo also has the most biteable ears in men's tennis. Go Gonzo! Show stefanki he should never have dumped you."
From hw in surrey via text on 81111

It's good news for a Briton in Melbourne

0421: Hold the front page - which apparently was a common expression in the olden days on things called 'newspapers' - Baltacha has taken the first set 6-1 against Groenefeld.

0420: This just in from 5 Live's David Law in Melbourne: "Roddick's coach Larry Stefanki told me yesterday that Roddick has lost a stone in weight over the off-season by not eating any carbohydrates after midday each day. Apparently he has about three steaks a meal to compensate!

"Larry said he works harder than anyone he's ever worked with but the key to the weight loss was the diet, and he needs to lose weight in order to move better, and movement will be the key to his success.

"I have to say that he was moving brilliantly yesterday. Potentially he has a really tough match tomorrow though, against Xavier Malisse. Malisse has also lost weight and is in great shape, and he's still a real talent."

0415: Amelie Mauresmo may not be talked about as a potential champion but the 2006 winner is through to the second round after a 6-4 6-3 win over Olga Govortsova of Belarus. "Vammoooossssss!!" That can mean only one thing - Gonzo has broken Hewitt on Rod Laver Arena.

0406: "Simon match is pretty good quality, lots of impressive points. I'm a big fan of his, but to me he's like a French early-day Murray - frustratingly intelligent but sporadic in brilliance."
Pottiella again... via text on 81111

0403: "C'mmmaaawwwnnnnnn!!!" That can only mean one thing - Hewitt has taken the first set 7-5 against Gonzalez. But Elena Baltacha is doing her bit for Britain by racing into an early 3-0 lead.

It's good news for a Briton in Melbourne

0352: Great Britain's Elena Baltacha holds serve to move ahead against Germany's Anna-Lena Groenefeld. Baltacha is aged 25 and ranked 134, while Groenefeld is aged 23 and ranked 71. So there you go.

0345: The uber-talented and super-flakey Richard Gasquet completes a 6-7 7-6 6-3 6-4 win over Diego Junqieira, despite letting a 4-2 lead slip in the fourth set, and Spain's Marcel Granollers defeats Teimuraz Gabashvili 6-4 7-6 4-6 6-0 to set up a clash with Andy Murray. And that means - it's Baltacha time.

Vince Spadea
Spadea went out in his own style at Melbourne Park

0334: He may not have been with us long but Vince Spadea certainly left an impression with his get-up. It's the sort of outfit you might consider putting on to get yourself from the bedroom to the kitchen on a Sunday morning, if there was nothing else to hand.

The sun is out again in Melbourne
0327: As the temperature reaches 40C, good old Mario Ancic posts a 7-5 6-4 4-6 6-2 win over Wayne Odesnik.

0324: With Hewitt usually comes a merry band of supporters and, true to form, we get a hearty if tuneless version of Waltzing Matilda, followed by the theme from Rocky. Their man lives up to his billing and recovers from 0-40 to hold serve.

0312: It feels like a change of shift in Melbourne, if not here, as Amelie Mauresmo, Gilles Simon, Lleyton Hewitt and Fernando Gonzalez enter the fray. And Rainer Schuettler. Andy Murray is still none the wiser about his next opponent as Granollers holds a narrow lead over Gabashvili on Court 10.

0307: 'Sex on Fire' by the Kings of Leon blasts around the Rod Laver Arena as the crowd waits for Hewitt and Gonzalez. I got a message this morning from a friend travelling around Australia, saying if he ever heard 'Sex on Fire' again he was going to cause an international incident. Look out for that on the news.

0301: The tennis world goes on.... Serena Williams beats Yuan Meng 6-3 6-1.

0259: Sad news, following Andrei Pavel's earlier retirement against Andy Murray the Romanian has decided to quit tennis altogether. "I don't want to try it again," he said. "I don't want to damage my health just to play another tournament. I've played in enough tournaments, I guess. I don't want to have surgery on my back. What for? I'm 35 years old in a few days. If I have a surgery, I'm going to be 36. What am I, (Lance) Armstrong? No, I'm not."

Gonzalez loses his cool

0252: Serena looks pretty good, you know. She's hitting the ball like a rocket. She'll be done soon and next up on Rod Laver, it's Aussie battler Lleyton Hewitt against Chilean wildman Fernando Gonzalez.

Gonzo is very much a favourite here for his complete inability to think tactically and insistence on belting everything at the lines, even if he's match point down. He is also prone to the odd tantrum, as those of you reading this on the web can see in the clip.

0248: "I'm really enjoying what I'm doing on the court right now," says the ever positive Dementieva. "I've had a great start to the year and I hope I can continue to play well."

0235: "Gasquet looks like he's having to scrape at it to win at all... Simon is worth keeping an eye on as he could be an early upset due to lack of matches... and tsonga's injury too..."
From anon via text on 81111

0229: Fourth seed Elena Dementieva - many people's pre-tournament tip - seals a 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 6-1 win over Germany's Kristina Barrois that has done little to boost the Russian's title credentials. Ninth seed Agnieska Radwanska of Poland has gone, losing 7-6 (9-7) 4-6 6-1 to Ukraine's Kateryna Bondarenko.

0221: Serena wraps up the first set 6-3, while Gasquet has pegged back Argentina's Diego Junqueira to one set all.

0211: Bad news for all you tennis/rap fans out there - Vince 'I ain't afraidaya' Spadea has gone out in straight sets to Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan. And my tip for the top, Japan's Kei Nishikori, has been walloped in straight sets by Jurgen Melzer - a potential third-round opponent for Murray.

Andy Murray
0205: "On court temperature yesterday, apparently it got to 64 degrees (147 Fahrenheit) - pretty painful!" says Andy Murray after his 45-minute workout against Andrei Pavel.

0152: Indeed, there are some great matches around, with Britain's sole survivor in the women's draw, Elena Baltacha, up against Anna-Lena Groenefeld on Court 10 in an hour or so. I also fancy a bit of Lleyton Hewitt v Fernando Gonzalez - which follows Sernea on Rod Laver. Serena, by the way, is level with Yuan in the early stages, while Dementieva has just been broken by Barrois and looks to be heading for a third.

It's good news for a Briton in Melbourne
0150: "Andy's defying british tradition as it is, so an anticlimactic british tennis match had to restore it a bit! Plenty of great matches today though...keepup the good work piers!"
From 'pottiella' (606er resorting to texts on 81111)

0140: No Grand Slam is really under way until Serena gets involved with her wacky outfits and fantastic news conferences. The second seed and three-time champion is out on Rod Laver Arena now as she prepares to take on China's Yuan Meng. Serena, for the record, has gone for a sort of blue patterned number - not really my area, check the gallery later fashion fans.

0133: So with the initial bout or Murraymania subsiding we can have a look at what else is going on at Melbourne Park. In-form fourth seed Elena Dementieva has just taken the first set against Germany's Kristina Barrois on Rod Laver, but she needed a tie-break, while two of my tips to have a good tournament - Richard Gasquet and Kei Nishikori - are losing, obviously.

0120: "I'm at the Rod Laver tonight and expect Rafa is pleased he's not out there right now as it's baking just over the river in South Yarra."
From EC, Melbourne (on hols from London), via text on 81111

It's good news for a Briton in Melbourne
0115: Well, I don't know about you but that was all a bit too sudden for my liking. Still, British number one Andy Murray is safely through after seeing off Andrei Pavel 6-2 3-1 (retired). Next up for the Scot is either Russian Teimuraz Gabashvili or Spain's Marcel Granollers - with Granollers currently leading by a set.


0100: And that's it - Pavel comes to the net and shakes Murray's hand - he cannot continue because of his back problem and needs someone to help him with his bag. A shame for him but good news for Murray, who has had a gentle workout.

SECOND SET:

Murray 3-1 Pavel
While Pavel is having a deeply unpleasant time out there, Murray is just getting going. He hooks one fabulous forehand down the line to take the game.

Murray 2-1 Pavel
Pavel is starting to look a bit forlorn as Murray steps up a gear and breaks again with ease. The Romanian is having a good old stretch on his chair at the changeover and there must be a doubt that he will see this through.

0055: "C'mon andy! I came home early to see you! Please dont disappoint me."
From Jordan, Glasgow, via text on 81111

Murray 1-1 Pavel
No sooner have I rattled out a few words on the previous game than Murray levels with a love-service game.

Murray 0-1 Pavel
Well, the ageing Pavel - who is nine months younger than me - shakes off any injury worry to hold serve to 15. Apparently, it's now 37C on court.

0049: Pavel is having treatment on the dodgy back that has seen him miss most of the last year through injury.

John Lloyd
0048: "Murray did what he had to do. Pavel is a bit unpredictable because he's got no expectations but he's a nice opponent."
BBC Sport commentator John Lloyd


FIRST SET:

Murray 6-2 Pavel
A Murray double fault and an outrageous net cord give Pavel two break points but the world number four is unperturbed and rolls through four straight points to take the set.

0045: "I am on nights and am so grateful for this text service, cmon Andy you can go all the way."
From Paula, Cwmbran, via text on 81111

Murray 5-2 Pavel
Pavel has made about 36 foot-faults already, possibly because when he does get a serve in Murray looks increasingly like smacking it straight back past him. One forehand return draws a few gasps from the crowd - although they may be gasping for air - and it's break number two.

Murray 4-2 Pavel
Wallop. Murray steams through a love service game and things are very much on track right now.

0038: "Have you fallen asleep Piers?"
From Paul, Southend, via text on 81111

- The very thought. Apologies for the slow updates but somebody, somewhere assures me they are looking into it.

It's good news for a Briton in Melbourne

Murray 3-2 Pavel
Pavel drifts a lob over the baseline to hand Murray his first break point of the day but the Briton wastes it with an equally careless backhand slice. The Scot gets another chance after chasing down a lob and hooking a forehand over his shoulder, and this time he converts with a killer drop shot. In celebration, the Television Centre kettle goes on.

Murray 2-2 Pavel
Pavel thumps a forehand return long to give up the game and the crowd responds with the gentlest ripple of applause. It's too hot to clap.

Murray 1-2 Pavel
It's all very quiet and low key at the moment - after all the build-up the reality of facing Andrei Pavel feels like a bit of a let-down and the Romanian takes another game with an excellent drop shot.

0024: "Come on murray we need something to cheer away from all the economic gloom."
From carl, nottingham, via text on 81111

Murray 1-1 Pavel
No messing from Murray, who holds to love in a game that includes one beautiful sweeping forehand into the corner. He must want to get this one over quickly - it's not natural for British people to be running about in this sort of weather.

Murray 0-1 Pavel
It's a gentle first game and Murray has half a chance at deuce after winning a clever rally at the net, but the Romanian hangs on.

0015: "Is it just me or did Murray completely ignore the ref and do his shoe lace up?"
From Ruth, Birmingham, via text on 81111

0011: "Murray is absolutely the form player but this is a very, very tough Grand Slam to win. He's clearly one of the four or five who is going to win but it might be just one or two too early for Andy Murray, but he's certainly in terrific shape."
Times correspondent Neil Harman on 5 Live

0008: The players walk out onto a baking hot Rod Laver Arena and Murray gets a great reception as he waves to the crowd, Agassi style. Murray wins the toss and will receive serve.

John Lloyd
0006: "With the other players in the lounge there's a respect level that Andy's now got. He has that stature now and Rafael Nadal in particular has been talking up Murray's chances."
BBC Sport commentator John Lloyd
Chris Bailey

0002: "I'm trying to persuade the BBC to get them to make me play late so I'm out of the heat of the day,"Murraytells BBC Scotland's Annie McGuire. "Well, he's on early so that shows how much pull we have," responds BBC Sport commentator Chris Bailey.

0001: "Snoozed thru eastenders earlier in order to prepare myself for late night Murray magic!"
From Lindsay in Stirling via text on 81111

2357: So we're told that this Monday was officially the most miserable day of the year, so good news it's nearly over, eh? Personally, I had a belter. Watched tennis all night, slept all day, got up at 6pm, cooked up a feast, watched Masterchef and here we go again.

2355: "Mon andy, i have wagered my trifle on this one, Strawberry!"
From Haircoo, Ayrshire, via text on 81111

2352: This match is going out live on BBC Two as we speak and is being streamed (in the UK) on this very website, for those of you in thrall to the moving picture. Wireless fans can enjoy 5 Live sports extra and the desperate and the damned should stick with me.

2345: Good evening, I think we all know why we're here. Andy Murray is about to begin his campaign for a first Grand Slam title with his first-round match against Andrei Pavel at a steamingly hot Melbourne Park.

The pair have met once before, with Murray winning in five dramatic sets - and I think vomiting at one stage - at the 2005 US Open when he was just 18. He is now 21 and the world number four, while Pavel is aged 34 and the world number 1,141. It's a no-contest, surely?



see also
Murray through as Pavel retires
20 Jan 09 |  Tennis
Baltacha powers past Groenefeld
20 Jan 09 |  Tennis
Aussie Open photos
20 Jan 09 |  Tennis
Aussie Open quotes
20 Jan 09 |  Tennis


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