The 2024 Australian Open got underway with first-round play in Melbourne as the tournament started on a Sunday for the first time ever as 16 matches were contested.

Top seed and ten-time champion Novak Djokovic was severely tested against 18-year-old qualifier Dino Prizmic, needing four sets to win his 29th consecutive Australian Open match.

Fourth seed Jannik Sinner, fifth seed Andrey Rublev, 12th seed Taylor Fritz, 17th seed Frances Tiafoe, and 26th seed Sebastian Baez were also victorious.

Djokovic passes Prizmic test to continue winning streak Down Under

After comfortably taking the first set, Djokovic appeared to be in control until Prizmic showed why he is one of the fastest-rising youngsters on the ATP Tour by claiming a second-set tiebreaker.

The 18-year-old then held a 3-2 lead in the third with a break before Djokovic rattled off the next eight games to assume two sets to one lead and 4-0 in the fourth.

Undaunted, Prizmic produced one more fightback to close the gap to 5-4 before the 24-time major champion closed out the longest first-round match of his Grand Slam career in four hours, and one minute.

"He deserved every applause, every credit that he got tonight", Djokovic said of the Croatian. "He's an amazing player, so mature for his age and he handled himself on the court incredibly well.

"This is his moment, honestly", Djokovic continued. "It could have easily been his match as well. He was a break up in the third, he fought even though he was 0-4 and a break point down [in the fourth set]. 

"He fought. He showed great mentality and resilience. He really made me run for my money tonight."

Sinner, who reached the championship match of the ATP Finals last year, was too good for Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp as he ran out a 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 winner in two hours, 34 minutes.

Sinner wins in straight sets; Rublev, Fritz go the distance

Playing his first match since leading Italy to the Davis Cup title in 2023, the world number four stated "It's never easy playing the first match of the season, so I'm happy to get the win and now I have two days of practice to get better."

Fifth seed Rublev nearly wasted a two-set lead in his 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (6) victory over Thiago Seyboth Wild to reach the second round in Melbourne for the seventh time in eight appearances.

After blowing four match points at 6-5 in the fifth set, the Russian rallied from 2-5 down in the match tiebreaker to keep his hopes of a first major title alive.

Fritz injured his ankle and was nearly sent to a shock defeat against Argentine clay-court specialist Facundo Diaz Acosta before overcoming two sets to one deficit in a 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 triumph.

"It was a really crazy match. I wasn't fully ready for that", the American admitted. "I'm happy now they put me on a Sunday start because I will need two days off now to rest after a really, really physical match."

Tiafoe fired off 44 winners in a 6-3, 7-6 (7), 2-6, 6-3 win over Borna Coric while Baez saw off J.J. Wolf as the American retired in the fourth set with the scoreline 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 3-0 in favor of the 26th seed.

Australian results

Christopher O'Connell reached the second round of a major for the first time after holding off Cristian Garin 3-6, 7-5, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 but he was the only Aussie to win on opening day.

Dane Sweeny, who came through qualifying as well as Jason Kubler went down to five-set defeats at the hand of 22nd Francisco Cerundolo and Daniel Galan, respectively.

Wild card Adam Walton fell in his Grand Slam debut as Italian Matteo Arnaldi posted a 7-6 (5), 6-2, 6-4 win.

Cilic goes down to Maroszan in headline match of unseeded players

Former US Open champion Marin Cilic was eliminated in four sets by Fabian Maroszan with the Hungarian advancing 6-1, 2-6, 6-2, 7-5. Joining him in the winner's circle was Jaume Munar and Tomas Machac, each straight-set winners.

Qualifier Jesper de Jong set up a second-round date with Sinner after overcoming Pedro Cachin 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 while Quentin Halys also advanced in four over Lloyd Harris.

Russian Pavel Kotov went the distance before edging Arthur Rinderknech 7-5, 6-1, 6-7 (6), 6-7, (5), 6-3.

About the author