The 2023 tennis season officially kicked off with the start of the Australian Open on Monday. First-timers like Ben Shelton are taking in the whole big tennis carnival with fresh eyes, while it's business as usual for longtime vets like Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
But even the most veteran tennis players can still experience career firsts. Defending champion and No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal, competing in his 18th Australian Open, had to deal with the mid-game disappearance of his favorite racket during his first-round match against Jack Draper, which had never happened to him before.
During a break in the middle of the first set, Nadal realized that the ball boy had taken the wrong racket to the stringer — and considering it was Nadal's favorite and the one he'd been using, it was the really wrong racket. Nadal tried to have someone go and bring it back to him, but ended up choosing a different one and apologizing to Draper.
It was a weird few minutes, but Nadal's a pro. He didn't let the absence of his favorite racket affect him. He ended up defeating Draper 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1.
How did the Americans do?
It was a great start for the Americans. Of the 15 who played on Monday, 10 won their matches and will be moving on to Round 2, including Frances Tiafoe, Jessica Pegula, and Coco Gauff.
• No. 3 Jessica Pegula def. Jaqueline Cristian 6-0, 6-1
• No. 7 Coco Gauff def. Katerina Siniakova 6-1, 6-4
• No. 10 Madison Keys def. Anna Blinkova 6-4, 3-6, 6-2
• No. 13 Danielle Collins def. Anna Kalinskaya 7-5, 5-7, 6-4
• No. 16 Frances Tiafoe def. Daniel Altmaier 6-3, 6-3, 6(5)-7, 7-6(6)
• No. 29 Sebastian Korda def. Cristian Garin 6-6-4, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2
• Bernarda Pera def. Moyuka Uchijima 2-6, 6-3, 6-1
• Mackenzie McDonald def. Brandon Nakashima 7-6(5), 7-6(1), 1-6, 6(10)-7, 6-4
• Catherine McNally def. Laura Pigossi 7-5, 6-1
• Christopher Eubanks def. Soonwoo Kwon 6-3, 6(1)-7, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4
Unfortunately, Sofia Kenin, Marcos Giron, Amanda Anisimova, Coco Vandeweghe, and Brandon Nakashima lost their matches and are out of the tournament.
Nearly all seeded players taking the court on Monday won and advanced to Round 2.
• It took nearly two hours for women's No. 1 Iga Swiatek to defeat Jule Niemeier, despite Swiatek winning in straight sets. Niemeier put up a good fight and pushed Swiatek past her comfort zone, but couldn't beat the tournament favorite.
• No. 6 Felix Auger-Aliassime defeated fellow Canadian Vasek Pospisil in a grueling four-hour, four-set match that included two tiebreaks.
• No. 7 Daniil Medvedev absolutely demolished American Marcos Giron in just 96 minutes. Giron won just three games in the entire match.
• In the "Past Grand Slam Winners Trying To Rebuild Their Careers" category, 2021 US Open champ Emma Raducanu cruised to an easy victory over Tamara Korpatsch and 2019 US Open champ Bianca Andreescu easily dispatched No. 25 Marie Bouzkova.
Other winners include Stefanos Tsitsipas, Maria Sakkari, Hubert Hurkacz, Jannik Sinner, Cam Norrie, and 2022 Wimbledon champ Elena Rybakina.
It was mostly chalk on Day 1, with the seeded player winning in all but three matches.
• No. 17 Lorenzo Musetti lost to Lloyd Harris in a five-set thriller that included a final set tiebreak.
• No. 25 Marie Bouzkova was defeated in two sets by former US Open champ Bianca Andreescu.
• No. 28 Amanda Anisimova lost to Marta Kostyuk.
What to watch on Day 2
The biggest highlight will be Novak Djokovic's first match at the Australian Open in two years, but there's a lot more to watch on Day 2. (Note: Day sessions last from 7 p.m. ET to 3 a.m. ET, night sessions begin no earlier than 3 a.m. ET.) All matches will be replayed on ESPN+.
• No. 4 Novak Djokovic will face Roberto Carballes Baena during the night session as the last match at Rod Laver Arena on Day 2.
• American Taylor Fritz will play Nikoloz Basilashvili during the day session.
• No. 2 Ons Jabeur will face Tamara Zidansek in the first evening match at Rod Laver Arena.
• Men's No. 2 Casper Ruud will play Tomas Machac during the evening session.
• Much-loved Scotsman Andy Murray will play No. 13 Matteo Berrettini.
A whole bunch of Americans will play on Day 2. Here's the complete list (minus Fritz):
• Sloane Stephens
• Ben Shelton
• Taylor Townsend
• Shelby Rogers
• Alison Riske-Amritraj
• Brandon Holt
• Katie Volynets
• Tommy Paul
• Jenson Brooksby
• Maxime Cressy
• Denis Kudla
• Elizabeth Mandlik
• Claire Liu
• Madison Brengle
• Lauren Davis
• John Isner