Djokovic marches on as Zverev survives five-set thriller

Alexander Zverev was given a mighty stern test by Jeremy Chardy in a five-set epic at the Australian Open on Thursday, while World No 1 Novak Djokovic wrapped up a straight sets win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Zverev looked to be on course for a pretty straightforward win after taking the first two sets before Chardy decided to mount an epic fightback.

After the players exchanged breaks midway through the third set, Chardy managed to save four break points during a pressure-filled 11th game as Zverev looked to deliver the killing blow.

Instead, it was Chardy who saw off the danger and found himself with two break and set points in Zverev's next service game.

He converted the second to take the third set, and then dug deep once again at 3-3 in the fourth, saving four more break points during a marathon seventh game that went to deuce six times.

Having once again left Zverev frustrated, Chardy earned three more break points of his own at 5-6, and even though Zverev saved them, he was powerless to prevent the Frenchman from taking the fourth set in a tie-break.

Chardy now had the momentum with him heading into the deciding fifth set, but it wasn't to be for the World No 36.

Zverev appeared to find another level in the fifth set, taking control of it early on with two straight breaks for a 4-0 lead.

Chardy tried to mount a final fightback in the fifth game, but he couldn't convert any of the three break points he'd earned.

Having seen off the momentary danger, Zverev ultimately coasted to victory, winning his final service game to love as he wrapped up the hard-fought 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 5-7, 6-7 (6-8), 6-1 win in just a touch under four hours.

In contrast, Novak Djokovic continued to look like a title contender as he defeated dangerous opponent Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.

The Frenchman was unseeded at this year's Australian Open after missing eight months of the 2018 season following knee surgery, but was always going to be a dangerous opponent for whichever player was unlucky enough to get him early on.

The straight-sets victory probably ended up flattering Djokovic somewhat, as Tsonga was more competitive than the scoreline suggests and definitely caused the Serbian World No 1 some problems, very nearly matching Djokovic in the winners column - 33 to 30 - and converting two of five break points.

Djokovic was always able to deliver when it mattered, however, converting five break points of his own to keep Tsonga on the back foot.

Djokovic now moves on to face Canadian 25th seed Denis Shapovalov, while Zverev has a date with local surprise package Alex Bolt, who reached the third round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in his career after defeating both Jack Sock and Gilles Simon earlier in the week.

Other players to advance to round three earlier in the day included David Goffin, Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic.

Serena too hot for Bouchard to handle

Serena Williams powered into the third round of the Australian Open on Thursday with a dominant 6-2, 6-2 victory over Eugenie Bouchard.

Canada's Bouchard - a former Wimbledon finalist - finds herself on the comeback trail after almost dropping out of the top 200 last year, and while she secured a solid first-round win over Peng Shuai earlier in the week, a match against the 23-time Grand Slam champion proved too much to handle.

Bouchard did herself little favours when she handed Williams a break in the opening game of the match after a pair of double faults, and she never really recovered from there.

She would go on to lose her next three service games as well, and even though she responded with break of her own in the fourth and sixth games, it wasn't nearly enough to combat her own leaky serve.

After taking the opening set 6-2, Williams tightened up on her own serve, while continuing to cause Bouchard trouble on hers.

She broke in games five and seven for a 5-2 lead, and then smashed a forehand drive volley winner on match point to wrap up the victory in an hour and 11 minutes.

"It wasn't an easy match," she said in her on-court interview. "Genie has been to the finals of Wimbledon and semi-finals of other slams so I knew, Serena you got to come out hot, you got to come out firing.

I haven't had many matches since last year, but it's ok. I got time to spend time with my daughter so that mattered the most to me.

It was great, I literally spent every day with her. I've been told they grow up so fast so I wanted to have time with her, and it meant a lot to me. I'm really happy that I was able to do that."

Next up for Williams is 18-year-old Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska, who knocked out 23rd seed Carla Suarez Navarro.

Earlier in the day, World No 1 Simona Halep overcame a second-set wobble to defeat Sofia Kenin and reach the third-round, while other winners on the day included Serena's sister Venus, US Open champion Naomi Osaka, sixth seed Elina Svitolina and seventh seed Karolina Pliskova.

Halep executes great escape while Osaka breezes through

Top seeds Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka are through to the third round of the Australian Open.

Halep was made to dig deep against Sofia Kenin, but would emerge a 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4 victor after two and half hours under lights at the Rod Laver Arena.

After 45 minutes, the world number one was a set and 3-0 up in the second, a routine win beckoning. But Kenin had other ideas and rallie to force a final set. The American was landing winners from everywhere and earned a 4-2 lead.

However, Halep dug deep and limited the unforced errors, forcing Kenin to chase points. She eventually ran out of steam and Halep secured a place in the third round.

The victory earns the diminutive Romanian a date with veteran Venus Williams, who she has beaten in their last two clashes.

Meanwhile, fourth seed Osaka had a sluggish start but would ultimately prove too strong for Tamara Zidansek, running out a 6-2, 6-4 winner. The pair swapped breaks early on then Osaka found her straps, reeling off four games in a row to take the set.

The US Open champion was then 2-4 down in the second, only to rally once more and seal a third round date with Su-Wei Hsieh.

“I served pretty well – I got broken twice, but she was a really great opponent, and this was my first time playing her,” she said.

Elsewhere, sixth seed and rising star Elina Svitolina served eight aces in her 6-4, 6-1 over Viktoria Kuzmova and seventh seed Karolina Pliskova came back from as et down to defeat Madison Brengle 4-6, 6-1, 6-0.

Nishikori and Raonic through to round three Down Under

Eighth seed Kei Nishikori and the big serving Milos Raonic booked their places in the third round of the Australian Open on Thursday.

The Japanese star was pushed all the way by veteran Ivo Karlovic, who came back from two sets down to force a fifth set but ultimately lost 3-6, 6-7(6), 7-5, 7-5, 6-7(7) in the afternoon session at the Margaret Court Arena.

Nishikori survived 59 aces but saved three crucial breakpoints in the dying embers of the match against the Croat giant.

With scores locked at two sets all, Karlovic found himself 0-40 up deep into the final set, serving for a crucial break. But Nishikori rallied to save them all and force a tiebreaker, which he controlled nicely.

“It was a really tough match," said the 29-year-old afterwards.

"I could go both ways. I was down. I think it was 7-6 in the tiebreak. I really returned well, focused well in the last couple of points. I’m really happy to win today.”

Meanwhile, 16th seed Raonic needed over four hours to get past 2014 Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka 6-7(4), 7-6(6), 7-6(11), 7-6(5). There were just four breaks of serve all match, with the powerful Raonic firing 37 aces.

The loss marks Wawrinka’s elimination in the second at Melbourne round for the second consecutive year.

Elsewhere, 11th seed Borna Coric breezed past Marton Fucsovics 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 and 12th seed Fabio Fognini was better in the big moments against Leonardo Meyer, winning 7-6(3), 6-3, 7-6(5).

Kerber and Sharapova power through

Second seed Angelique Kerber and former world number one Maria Sharapova both advanced to the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday.

The German notched up her 100th grand slam win when she defeated Beatriz Haddad 6-2, 6-3 in 83 minutes at the Rod Laver Arena. Kerber would fire 16 winners and would take advantage of Haddad’s 39 unforced errors as she tried to chase the match.

However, the Brazilian put up a good fight. In the first set, she rallied to save no less than ten breakpoints as Kerber piled on the pressure. But she broke Haddad once more in the final game to claim the set.

Kerber’s efficient service games was a feature of the second set, keeping her foot on the pedal as Haddad was left to chase a result. On her first match point, Kerber sealed the deal and booked her place in the next round, where she faces local hopeful Kimberly Birrell.

Meanwhile, Sharapova was ruthless in the final match of the day, needing 70 minutes to dispatch Rebecca Paterson 6-2, 6-1. The 2008 champion never faced a breakpoint and converted five out of seven she earned.

In other results, eight seed Petra Kvitova breezed past Irina Begu 6-1, 6-3 and 11th seed Aryna Sabalenka beat Katie Boulter 6-3, 6-4.

Nadal marches on in Melbourne

Rafael Nadal advanced to the third round of the Australian Open following a straight set win over Matt Ebden on Wednesday.

The Spaniard needed just under an hour and half to defeat the local hopeful 6-3, 6-2 under lights at the Rod Laver Arena. Nadal was better in the bigger moments, saving all four breakpoints he faced.

The Australian, buoyed by the partisan crowd, started well, trading service games with the Nadal and earning the first three breakpoints of the match. But like a true champion, Nadal countered right away breaking serve and holding to go one set up.

It was one way traffic from there, as the 17-time grand slam winner reeled off 15 of the next 19 games to book a spot in the third round. Nadal will have to face the crowd again as he is set to meet another local, 27th seed Alex de Minaur.

“Every day is a test, and especially when you are back after injuries,” said the 32-year-old afterwards.

“I think I played a solid match, I’m happy with the way my serve worked, and I think I did a few things very well – serve and first shot have been very, very positive, hitting a lot of winners with my forehand. And with my return, I think I’ve been improving during the match.”

Elsewhere, tenth seed and rising star Karen Khachanov made easy work of Yoshihito Nishioka, powering 15 aces pas the Japanese to win 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.

20th seed Grigor Dimitrov needed four sets to defeat Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 6-7(5) 6-3 7-5 while Roberto Bautista Agut notched up another five set thriller in his 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(7), 4-6, 6-3 win over Henri Laaksonen.

Murray criticises British tennis bosses

Former world number one Andy Murray has lashed out at the Lawn Tennis Association for the lack of growth in tennis in Britain.

The Scot believes that the LTA has failed to build on his success at the top level as well as the succes of fellow Brits Johanna Konta and Kyle Edmund, who should have inspired a generation.

"I'm not sure Britain has really capitalised on the last seven or eight years of success we've had," the three-time grand slam winner told BBC Sport.

"Whether it be myself, my brother, Jo, Kyle, the Davis Cup, those sorts of things, I'm not sure how much we've done there.

"There are quite a few players coming through that have potential to go on and do better, but obviously you are talking about the high end of the game.

"Maybe it's something I should have given more thought to while I was playing but I never felt that was my job to do that. It is a little bit disappointing. I don't understand how in the last eight to ten years that participation is dropping - I don't get it.

"I know in Scotland that there have not been many indoor courts built in the last ten years. That seems madness. I don't understand why that is. You need to get kids playing; you need to have the facilities that allow them to do that."

Murray was knocked out in the opening round of the Australian Open on Monday and faces an uncertain future as he contemplates another hip operation.

Wozniacki and Stephens through to round three Down Under

Top seeds Caroline Wozniacki and Sloane Stephens advanced to the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday.

Defending champion Wozniacki needed just 65 minutes at the Margaret Court Arena to dispatch Johanna Larsson 6-1, 6-3. The Dane took advantage of Larsson’s unforced errors, which mounted to 26 after she was forced to chase the match.

Wozniacki ran out to a 3-0 lead in quick-time in the opening set and stretched that to 5-1 after a second break. The Swede put up some resistance in the second set, saving three breakpoints to hold serve early on. But an accurate Wozniacki racked up the winners sealed the victory with a second break in the final game.

Meanwhile, fifth seed Stephens was made to work hard for her 6-3, 6-1 victory over world number 66 Timea Babos. The Hungarian saved no less than 18 breakpoints in the match but was eventually overwhelmed by a powerful Stephens.

“It was not an easy match,” the 25-year-old told press afterwards.

“It’s pretty hard to play against a player who serves so well, so I’m pretty happy. Considering that I hadn’t won a match here in a long time, it’s great. I’m kind of conquering all the places where I’ve played terrible - Asia, here. I played well in my first round and today, so I’m pretty happy with that.”

Elsewhere, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova came back from a set down to upset ninth seed Kiki Bertens 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, while local hopeful Ashleigh Barty eased past Y.F Wang 6-2, 6-3.

Federer advances while Anderson crashes out in Melbourne

Defending champion Roger Federer put on stunning display to reach the third round while fifth seed Kevin Anderson dropped out of the Australian Open on Wednesday.

The Swiss Maestro was too good for Daniel Evans, crunching 53 winners in his 7-6(5), 7-6(3) 6-3 win over the Brit at the Rod Laver Arena.

In the opening set, the duo swapped service games and Evans saved a solitary breakpoint at the death to force a tiebreaker. Down 5-3, Federer fought back to go one set up.

Federer and Evans swapped breaks in the second set on their way to another tiebreaker, where the third seed continued his superb tiebreak record. One break of serve in the third set was all Federer needed to secure the victory.

Meanwhile, fifth seed Kevin Anderson was sent crashing out by American Frances Tiafoe. The South African hopeful picked up the first set after firing seven aces, but his serve faltered after that and Tiafoe took full advantage to eke out a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 victory.

"It means the world to me," said the 20-year-old on court afterwards.

"I lost to him three times last year and when I was down a set and a break it looked like it would happen again. I dug deep and went to a different place."

Elsewhere, sixth seed Marin Cilic bounced back from a second set loss to defeat American Mackenzie McDonald 7-5, 6-7(9), 6-4 6-4, while Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the third round of the Melbourne event for the first time following a hard fought 6-3, 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory over Viktor Troicki.

Serena soars into round two as Halep battles

Serena Williams and Simona Halep are both safely through to the second round of the Australian Open, albeit in very different fashion.

Williams, seeded only 16th in Melbourne this time around, looked like her dominant old self as she demolished World No 73 Tatjana Maria 6-0, 6-2.

Clearly in no mood to hang around, Williams broke three times in the first set and twice more in the second as she wrapped up the result in just 50 minutes.

The former perennial World No 1 fired 22 winners and just 11 unforced errors and was able to overcome a shaky first-serve percentage of just 52%.

"She's a tricky player," Williams said after the match. "Could have been easily a 6-3, 6-4 match or three-set match. She's been able to beat top players, No.1 and No.2, so she knows how to play.

"I think always when I have a tougher round or I know someone that's really good, I really want to be focused, and then that was really helpful for me today."

It wasn't just Williams' game that had heads turning - the American also debuted her latest fashion statement, a one-piece outfit made of lycra that she labelled a "Serena-tard".

She matched the outfit with fishnet stockings, which she explained were a health measure designed to avoid deep-vein thrombosis (DVT).

I have had some issues and they're not done. So it's just something I just have to do for pretty much probably the rest of my career," she said.

Next up for Williams is former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard, after she defeated China's Peng Shuai in convincing fashion, 6-2, 6-1.

Meanwhile, current World No 1 Simona Halep had to battle back from a set down to defeat Kaia Kanepi 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, 6-2.

After dropping the first set in a tie-break, Halep was staring down the barrel when she also went a break down in the second.

But the diminutive Romanian rallied superbly to edge the second set before finishing in dominant fashion with two late breaks in the third.

She moves on to face American Sofia Kenin in the second round.

Others to advance on Tuesday included reigning US Open champion Naomi Osaka, former two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza and Serena's sister Venus Williams.

Osaka started her campaign with a rock-solid 6-4, 6-2 victory over Magda Linette of Poland, Muguruza defeated Zheng Saisai 6-2, 6-3, and Venus overcame Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-7 (3-7), 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 in a closely fought contest that lasted nearly three hours.

Djokovic and Zverev clear first hurdles in Melbourne

World No 1 Novak Djokovic and No 4 Alexander Zverev both reached the second round of the Australian Open after securing straight sets victories on Tuesday.

Djokovic was up against qualifier Mitchell Krueger from the United States, and unsurprisingly was not really troubled by the World No 230 as he cruised to a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory in just a shade over two hours.

The match did start off in somewhat unexpected fashion as Krueger clinched the first break of the match to take a 2-1 lead.

Djokovic was clearly a little slow out of the blocks, but surrendering the early break certainly got his attention.

The top-ranked Serb immediately broke back in the very next game, and pretty much never looked back from there.

Another break followed a few games later as he wrapped up the first set, and the writing was on the wall when he broke Krueger again in the first game of the second set.

By the end of the match, Krueger had stared down 20 break points, with Djokovic clinching six of them to wrap up what was ultimately a straightforward win, smashing 42 winners in the process.

Djokovic moves on to the second round where he will face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who should provide a much sterner challenge.

Zverev, meanwhile, was up against Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene, and would have been pleased to kickstart his campaign with a rock-solid 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 victory.

Zverev's match followed a similar pattern to Djokovic's, as Bedene secured the first break of the match before surrendering it immediately and never leading the match again.

The German was deadly whenever contesting break points, converting six of the eight he earned to leave his opponent floundering.

“I was a little bit sloppy so it was a wake-up call to play better,” Zverev told Jim Courier in his on-court interview when asked about the early break he surrendered.

Zverev was under a little bit of an injury cloud leading up to the start of the tournament but when questioned about his fitness, he quipped, "My body is close to perfection," leading to howls of laughter from the crowd.

He later added more seriously: “I've had about 86 injuries and the ankle is still a bit swollen. But I've done everything right in my preparation. Now I either play well or I don't.”

Other players to advance on Tuesday included Kei Nishikori, David Goffin and Stan Wawrinka.

 

Murray loses five-set thriller as Federer sails into round two

Andy Murray lost a thrilling five-set clash against Roberto Bautista Agut at the Australian Open on Monday, while defending champion Roger Federer made light work of Denis Istomin.

In what could be his final match, Murray fought back superbly from two sets down against Bautista Agut only to come unstuck in the deciding fifth set, eventually falling 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-7 (4-7), 6-2.

"If this was my last match, it was an amazing way to end," said Murray, who still hopes to play at this year's Wimbledon.

"I gave everything I had - it wasn't enough tonight."

A single break of serve in each set was enough to see Bautista Agut go two sets up in quick time, and when he broke again midway through the third set, the match seemed destined for a hasty conclusion.

But to Murray's credit he refused to give up the fight, breaking back in the third set before edging the tie-break and taking the fourth set as well courtesy of another successful breaker.

Bautista Agut was not to be denied in the decider, however, clinching two early breaks for a 4-1 lead that proved too big a deficit for Murray to overcome.

The Scot was able to avoid a third break of serve at 2-5 to prolong the match, but couldn't prevent Bautista Agut from setting up and converting a second match point on his own serve.

Murray revealed on Friday that he intended to retire as the result of a chronic hip problem, but in his on-court interview on Monday he said there was still a chance he could return to Melbourne.

"Maybe I'll see you again. I'll do everything possible to try," he said.

"If I want to go again, I'll need to have a big operation, which there's no guarantee I'll be able to come back from anyway, but I'll give it my best shot."

In contrast to Murray's four-hour-and-15-minute epic, two-time defending champion Roger Federer spent less than two hours on court as he opened his campaign with a rock-solid 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Denis Istomin.

Istomin went into the match knowing he had lost all six of his previous encounters against the Swiss ace, and despite his best efforts it was no different this time around.

Even with a lowly first-serve percentage of 56%, Federer didn't face a single break point during the match, with a single break of serve of his own in each set proving enough to see off his Uzbeki opponent.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion wasn't always at his best, producing more unforced errors than Istomin - 30 to 21 - but he also fired more than twice as many winners - 52 to Istomin's 22.

Next up for Federer is Great Britain's Dan Evans, who advanced to the second round after a straight-sets win over Japan's Tatsuma Ito.

Nadal bullish after Duckworth demolition job

Former champion Rafael Nadal is hugely satisfied with his return to the Australian Open on Monday, after what has been a difficult period of recovery.

Nadal had not played any competitive tennis since his semi-final exit at Flushing Meadows, which was compounded by his late withdrawal from the Brisbane International at the start of this year.

Any concerns that he would not be match fit for Monday's tournament opener against James Duckworth were quickly erased though, as the Spaniard motored to a 6-4 6-3 7-5 victory against his Australian opponent.

Duckworth entered this year's campaign as a wild card entry, but there was perhaps some hope that Nadal would have to negotiate considerable rust. There was no sign of it on Monday though.

"Of course, it's not easy to come back after a lot of months especially against a player playing super aggressive every shot," said an emotional Nadal.

The Spaniard has always been known for his defensive prowess on the tennis court.

However, he is not as young and agile as he once was. A contest against an aggressive and big-hitting Duckworth was always going to be an important litmus test. Suffice to say, he passed it with flying colours.

"He went on court with determination not to hit more than two balls in a row from the baseline, it was tough," added Nadal.

"I'm happy for everything. It was a sad position to not play in Brisbane as I had a small issue on the leg. But that happens, especially when you're coming back. It's always different pains appearing in the first weeks after a while. I'm trying to be better and better every day. I think I had a really good week of practice."

Sharapova dishes out double bagel on day one

Winner of the "hottest" Australian Open final in history, Maria Sharapova, dished out a double bagel to Great Britain's Harriet Dart in their tournament opener on Monday.

Sharapova, who has been through some troubles during the past few years, rolled back the years on Monday, producing glimpses of the player she once was. The Russian blasted 20 winners past the hapless Dart - two of them were return winners.

Sharapova was landing her first serve at about 178km/h during the fixture, which is imposing for a first Major fixture of the season. Sharapova last conquered Melbourne Park more than a decade ago now.

Nobody could have imagined that the drought would be this long.

"It's been many years since I won the trophy here," said an emotional Sharapova on Monday.

"Despite my opponent not having the best day, I still had to get the job done today. I love what I do, I love competing and challenging myself to get better. The youngsters are coming up - but not yet," added Sharapova, who clearly still has unfinished business in Australia.

Sharma blasts Priscilla Hon off the court in Melbourne

Every January, the Australian tennis fraternity gets a little excited about the country's future prospects.

On Monday, young Astra Sharma became the centre of attention, when she marched into the second round of the Australian Open, following a 7-5 4-6 6-1 victory against Priscilla Hon. There was some big serving in this fixture, with Sharma firing 12 aces past her opponent.

She won 74 percent of her first serve points on Monday - her fastest serve coming at a whopping 191km/h. This is a power player folks....and she knows it.

"I thought I served really well and used my forehand well to open up the court," Sharma told journalists.

"I think probably in the next round to keep being aggressive and still using my spin, because Pri(scilla) plays pretty flat. So sometimes I would get caught in that sort of flat rally which isn't necessarily like my strength," added Sharma.

Everybody can see that this Sharma serve is a massive asset, but is it enough to carry her through against more accomplished opponents?

There were moments when Hon was returning that vicious serve with considerable interest on Monday.

"Yeah, I mean, definitely she was short-hopping them and getting them back deep. I think that just speaks to how good a player Pri is," added Sharma.

"I definitely was a bit taken aback at times because I thought I hit a really good serve and she'd do something special with it. I just knew that if I kept hitting my spots and kept mixing it up, it's tough to do that all the time. So, yeah," added Sharma.

Anderson blows a Frenchman off the court

South African giant Kevin Anderson secured passage to the second round of the Australian Open on Monday, following a 6-3 5-7 6-2 6-1 victory against Adrian Mannarino.

In a rare occurrence, Anderson got through this fixture without having to complete a single tie-break and his final two sets against the Frenchman were honestly a demolition job of epic proportions.

The numbers tell you everything you need to know. Anderson blasted 14 aces past his opponent - his five double faults were therefore of little consequence....for now. Anderson won 75 percent of his first serve points, as he should.

The second serve might still prove to be a liability as the tournament progresses though.

Winning 51 percent of second serve points is just not going to cut it at this level. While the scoreline might suggest otherwise, Anderson's break point conversions were also below par, at just 47 percent.

His performance at the net was solid and an improvement - as good a sign as any that the South African has evolved as a player during what has been an extraordinary journey to the top.

Many feel 2019 could be a big year for Anderson and doing well at Melbourne Park will be key to realising that objective.

Federer and Djokovic pay tribute to retiring Murray

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have paid tribute to fellow Grand Slam champion Andy Murray after the Scot announced his intention to retire after this year's Wimbledon.

Murray was prompted to make the emotional announcement following a humbling practice match defeat to Djokovic ahead of the Australian Open.

The Scot has failed to get back to his former greatness following a chronic hip injury, and felt the time was right to call it a day.

Djokovic and Federer were both shocked by the sudden announcement from one of their contemporaries in the game.

“It’s quite a shock for me honestly because we are the same age, the same generation,” Djokovic told reporters in Melbourne.

“It’s quite sad to see him going through what he has been going through. As someone who has been through a major injury with my elbow in the last couple of years, I can definitely empathise with him and relate to what he’s going through.

“I trained with him a couple of days ago and we got to chatting a little bit. He’s a great champion, he’s a friend of mine that I grew up with.

“It’s kind of sad to know that he might play his last Australian Open but I do wish him all the best. There’s a lot of things in life I’m sure to be grateful for.”

Meanwhile in an interview with the Sunday Age, Federer admitted he was shook by the news.

"It hit me hard," he said. "Of course, I’ve seen Andy struggling you know with his hip and with his fitness for quite some time now.

"You want somebody to go there and feel like he’s happy to retire. The problem is it’s not his decision, it’s the body’s decision and that naturally hurts."

Many have remarked that Murray was unlucky to come up during a time when guys like Federer, Nadal and Djokovic were dominating the scene, but Federer doesn't agree with that viewpoint.

"I mean, he won Wimbledon, he won the Olympics, became world No. 1. Is that unlucky? I don’t know," he said. "I always said you can have great careers, you can have great careers side by side. Maybe from Aussie stand point, yes he’s been unlucky because he made five finals here [in Melbourne] and never won one. But that’s why I think he will also be even more loved you know because he maybe didn’t make it here."

Federer said Murray can be proud of what he achieved in tennis, and always giving it his all.

"I feel like he left everything out there. There was never any doubts there. And I think he should be very proud even though he was extremely sad in the press conference and you know, you don’t want to see that."

Nadal opens up on Federer rivalry

Superstars Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are set to rekindle their epic rivalry at the Australian Open this month.

With no less than 37 grand slam singles titles between them, the duo have no doubt cemented their place as two of the greatest tennis players of all time.

The pair first met on court in 2004 and not many would have guessed they would still be battling it out at the top of the men’s game 13 years later, especially after so many injuries.

Nadal and Federer met four times in 2017, with the Swiss Maestro winning all four, including a five-set thriller in Melbourne last January. This year, if all hold seed, they are set to meet in the semi-finals.

“2017 had been a special situation,” Nadal told ausopen.com.

“Both of us came back from a very long time without playing tennis. Nobody expected that, and it happened.

“Today is a different story. We are back to the top positions, fighting for the things again. [It has] always has been a big challenge to face Roger all around the world, on the different surfaces, different scenarios.

“And yes, 2017 here has been one of the matches that’s going to stay in our minds, in our careers. But one more, we had plenty.”

On the subject of injury, Nadal went on to say that the daily grind of getting back to one’s best is taxing, but one has to keep at it.

“Even if a lot of days you go on court when you have troubles or you go to the gym without having a real goal or without knowing why I am going there, because I don't see a benefit on this day, you keep going,” continued the Spaniard.

“That's the only way that you can keep having confidence and hope for a good comeback in terms of health.

“I know sometimes it’s hard mentally. It’s tough when you have one thing, then another thing. But I know that tennis is not forever. I want to do it as long as I can and give myself the best possibilities to fight for the things really I am passionate about.”

Nadal begins his 2019 Australian Open campaign against wild card James Duckworth on Monday.

Osaka to grace to cover of TIME magazine

Naomi Osaka may finally get the credit she deserves when she appears on the cover of the January issue of TIME magazine.

The 2018 US Open champion took a back seat to finals opponent Serena Williams’ outburst in New York, with her becoming Japan’s first ever grand slam champion being missed by many.

Now, the world number four stands to ride the wave of her achievements all the way to the cover of the famous magazine. The feature tracks her tennis roots and interesting past, as well as providing insight from her Haitian father Leonard and her sister Mari.

"Once she puts her focus on something, she never strays from it," Mari told writer Sean Gregory.

"It gets to the point where it’s almost ridiculous."

Meanwhile, Oska is just focused on being herself ahead of another year on the WTA Tour.

"You really never know what people can do," said the 20-year-old.

"And how people can change. I don’t think there is ever going to be another Serena Williams. I think I’m going to be me. And I hope people are okay with that."

The Japanese born right-hander is set to open her Australian Open campaign against Magda Linette on Tuesday in Melbourne.  

Murray likely to retire after Australian Open

Former world number one Andy Murray shocked the tennis world on Friday by announcing the upcoming Australian Open could be his last event.

The Scot went under the knife for a hip injury 12 months ago and it has been a long road to recovery, featuring in just six tournaments towards the latter part of 2018.

Now, on the eve of the opening grand slam of the year, Murray has revealed he is still in pain and is unsure how long he can last.

“I’ve been in a lot of pain for about 20 months now," the three-time grand slam winner told a wide-eyed press conference in Melbourne.

"I’ve tried everything I could to get my hip feeling better. It hasn’t helped loads, I’m in a better place than I was six months ago, but I’m still in a lot of pain. It’s been tough.

“I told them [my team] that I’ll try and get through this until Wimbledon. That’s where I would like to stop playing, but I’m also not certain I’m able to do that. I think there is a chance of that for sure because I’m not sure I’m able to play through the pain for another four or five months.

“I have the option to have another operation, which is a little bit more severe than I’ve had before, which is having my hip resurfaced. It would allow me to have a better quality of life, to be free of pain. That’s something I’m seriously considering right now, to then come back to competing, but there is obviously no guarantee with that.

“The reason to have that operation is not to return to professional sport, it’s just for a better quality of life.”

Despite playing in the same era as legends Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the 31-year-old still managed to rack up three grand slams, 14 Masters 1000 titles and two Olympic golds. He also defeated Novak Djokovic at the height of his powers at the ATP World Tour Finals in 2016 to finish the year ranked number one.

Murray is set to face 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut on Monday in what could be his last professional appearance.