Australian Open: Bouchard advances, Raonic stunned

Milos Raonic has slumped to his earliest exit at a Grand Slam since 2011, losing in the first round at the Australian Open to Lukas Lacko of Slovakia 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (4). Bouchard, from Westmount, Que., toppled France's Oceane Dodin 6-3, 7-6 (5) and will face top-seeded Simona Halep next.

Sharapova wins in Aussie return, Federer glides into 2nd round

Eugenie Bouchard, left, advanced to the second round of the Australian Open while fellow Canadian Milos Raonic couldn't get past his unseeded opponent. (Associated Press)

Canada's Eugenie Bouchard is on to the second round at the Australian Open after a straight sets win, but compatriot Milos Raonic is out at the first major of the year.

The 22nd seed in the men's tournament, Raonic was stunned by unseeded Lukas Lacko of Slovakia 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (4) on Tuesday in the first round of the Grand Slam event.

The Thornhill, Ont., product is coming off an injury-filled season that saw his ranking drop to No. 24 from a career-high of No. 3 in 2016.

Raonic missed last year's U.S. Open after undergoing wrist surgery. He returned to the tour for one tournament in Japan in October, but retired from his quarterfinal match. He has been among the most vocal proponents for shortening the nearly year-long tennis schedule to protect top players from injury.

Match Wrap: Milos Raonic falls in first round of Australian Open

4 years ago
Raonic was upset by Lukas Lacko of Slovakia in the first round of the Australian Open 7-6(5), 5-7, 4-6, 6-7(4). 1:51

Bouchard, from Westmount, Que., toppled France's Oceane Dodin 6-3, 7-6 (5) and will face top-seeded Simona Halep next.

"It's always really cool to go up against the best in the world," Bouchard said. "I want to ... go out there and do some damage."

Raonic is a former Wimbledon finalist and has reached at least the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park the last three years. It's only the third time that Raonic has lost in the first round of a major. Raonic also lost in the first round of the 2010 US Open and the 2011 French Open.

Peter Polansky of Thornhill, Ont., joined Raonic on the sidelines after losing his first round match in three sets to Karen Khachanov of Russia 7-6 (3), 7-6 (2), 6-4.

Fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov takes on No. 15 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a second-round match Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET.

​Sharapova wins in Aussie return

It wasn't Maria Sharapova's choice to miss the last Australian Open. That decision was taken out of her hands because of a doping ban following a failed test on her previous visit to Melbourne Park.

The five-time major champion said it was her choice to return, though, and she relished every moment of it in Tuesday's 6-1, 6-4 victory over Tatjana Maria.

"With that choice I know that I face difficulties and challenges on the court, and that I start from no ranking and that I might start on some outside courts, and I understand that and that's part of the process," said Sharapova, who was a contentious choice to represent the women's champions last week at the official draw.

Sharapova hits a return during her first-round win. (Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

She was banned for 15 months after testing positive for meldonium, not long after the medication was added to the list of banned substances, when she was in Australia in 2016.

So when Serena Williams won the 2017 Australian Open, Sharapova was sick in bed and watching on TV.

She returned in April and, because of her slide down the rankings, needed some wild-card entries to enter tournaments. She made her return to the majors at the U.S. Open, and finished the year ranked No. 60.

"I learned what it feels like to be on the ground and seeing life from the ground, and I'm not shying away from any part of that," she said. "I love what I do. I'm a competitor and that's why I continue to do it."

Sharapova will next play 14th-seeded Anastasija Sevastova, who beat her at last year's U.S. Open.

There were all kinds of comebacks on Tuesday. Six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic and 2014 winner Stan Wawrinka returned from injuries that had sidelined them since Wimbledon, top-ranked Simona Halep recovered from 5-2 down in her first set and a tumble in the second, and 2016 champion Angelique Kerber continued her amazing return to form.​

Federer stays classy

Defending champion Roger Federer just picked up where he left off, beating Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 in a night match, his first on Rod Laver Arena since clinching a career-reviving title in Melbourne last year.

The 19-time major champion has been met on court after previous wins by tennis greats Laver, John McEnroe and Jim Courier.

On Tuesday night, he got something different. Comedian Will Ferrell stepped out of the crowd and, slipping into character as Ron Burgundy, conducted the post-match interview.

As usual, the 36-year-old Federer stayed classy.

Fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev, No. 5 Dominic Thiem, No. 7 David Goffin, No. 12 Juan Martin del Potro and No. 19 Tomas Berdych all advanced, but No. 20 Roberto Bautista Agut lost to Fernando Verdasco.

No. 13 Sam Querrey restored some order for the U.S. men with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over Feliciano Lopez.

Keys reverses American trend

Madison Keys reversed a trend, becoming the only one of the four American women who contested the U.S. Open semifinals four months ago to reach the second round in Australia.

The 17th-seeded Keys, the U.S. Open runner-up, advanced with a 6-1, 7-5 win over Wang Qiang and will be one of four American women who made it through the opening two days.

Former No. 1-ranked Kerber, the 2016 Australian Open champion, continued her resurgent run with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Anna-Lena Friedsam to extend her streak to 10 consecutive wins.

Wimbledon champion Garbine Mugurza, No. 6 Karolina Pliskova, No. 8 Caroline Garcia, No. 9 Johanna Konta, No. 16 Elena Vesnina, No. 18 Ash Barty, No. 26 Agnieszka Radwanska and No. 28 Mirjana Lucic-Baroni also advanced.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova lost 6-3, 4-6, 10-8 to Andrea Petkovic. She missed the Australian Open last year while recovering from a knife attack that easily could have derailed her career.​

With files from The Associated Press


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