Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez eliminated from Australian Open
Vancouver's Vasek Pospisil loses 1st-round match to No. 4 seed Daniil Medvedev
Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez has been ousted from the Australian Open.
The 18-year-old Fernandez was dropped in straight sets on Tuesday in the first round by 18th-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium.
Mertens took the match 6-1, 6-3 in one hour 26 minutes.
"She's still young, she's a good player," said Mertens. "If you let her play, she's aggressive, she can play aggressive."
Fernandez, ranked 89th in the world, held serve to go up 1-0 in the opening set before Mertens reeled off six straight points.
Fernandez, from Laval, Que., fell behind 2-0 in the second set but broke Mertens for the first time, then held serve to tie it 2-2.
WATCH | Fernandez ousted from Australian Open:
"I think it wasn't my best match today but I'm happy to pull through it in two sets," said Mertens.
Fernandez is the first Canadian to be ousted from the Grand Slam tournament, with Rebecca Marino, Bianca Andreescu, Milos Raonic, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov all winning their first-round matches Monday.
Medvedev defeats Pospisil
Meanwhile, Vancouver's Vasek Pospisil became the next Canadian to go down, losing 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 to No. 4 seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia in a first-round men's match.
Pospisil, ranked 63rd in the world, hasn't won a singles match at the Australian Open since 2015.
WATCH | Pospisil falls to Medvedev:
Nadal advances in 3 sets
If Rafael Nadal has bad back, he didn't show any signs of it in his 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 win over Laslo Djere in the first round at the Australian Open.
The No. 2-ranked Nadal is aiming to go one better than Roger Federer and win a men's-record 21st men's Grand Slam singles title.
He didn't play for Spain at the ATP Cup last week and has been troubled by stiffness in his lower back.
"Well, it's been a tough 15 days for me. I had some issues with the back," Nadal said in his post-match interview. "I needed to survive today. That's what I did.
"Straight sets — that's what I need."
So <a href="https://twitter.com/RafaelNadal?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RafaelNadal</a>, how would you rate your first round win at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AO2021?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AO2021</a>? 👌<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AusOpen?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AusOpen</a> <a href="https://t.co/EDJLShJkuf">pic.twitter.com/EDJLShJkuf</a>—@AustralianOpen
Earlier, Sofia Kenin struggled in her first match as a defending champion at a Grand Slam tournament.
The 22-year-old from Florida struggled with jitters at the Australian Open. Struggled with her shots. Struggled against an opponent who's never won a tour-level match.
Kenin, though, knows all that really matters: Who can claim the final point. And, eventually, she managed to do just that Tuesday at Melbourne Park, setting aside an early deficit and beating 133rd-ranked Australian wild-card entry Maddison Inglis 7-5, 6-4.
"I'm obviously not too happy with the way I played," Kenin said with a chuckle, "but a win is a win."
WATCH | Andreescu prevails in 1st match since October 2019:
Inglis is still searching for one: She fell to 0-6 for her career.
Still, boosted by a crowd of locals at Rod Laver Arena, she did not make things easy on Kenin, who nevertheless managed to avoid becoming the first woman since Jennifer Capriati in 2003 to lose in the first round at the Australian Open a year after winning the championship.
"First round, it's obviously nerves for me," said Kenin, who followed up her first major title last year by reaching the final at the French Open.
The woman Kenin defeated for the title in Melbourne, two-time major champion Garbine Muguruza, also advanced to the second round, defeating Margarita Gasparyan of Russia 6-4, 6-0.
Tsitsipas, Barty advance
In night matches to cap Day 2, fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Gilles Simon 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 and No. 9 Matteo Berrettini defeated Kevin Anderson, a two-time finalist at majors, 7-6 (9), 7-5, 6-3.
In her first match at a major in more than a year, top-ranked Ash Barty dropped only 10 points in a 6-0, 6-0 rout of Danka Kovinic.
Barty lost to Sofia Kenin in the Australian Open semifinals last year and then skipped the U.S. Open and her title defence at the French Open because she stayed in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kenin struggled with nerves in her first match as a defending champion at a Grand Slam tournament earlier in the day before beating 133rd-ranked wild-card entry Maddison Inglis 7-5, 6-4,
But Barty only needed 44 minutes to advance, saying she'd missed tennis "every single day" during her time away from the sport.
"The competitor in me missed what this is all about," she said. "Coming out here and really enjoying the thrill of the fight."
Azarenka receives medical attention in loss
But Victoria Azarenka, a two-time title winner at the Australian Open and the runner-up at last year's U.S. Open, appeared to have trouble breathing and received medical attention in the second set of a 7-5, 6-4 loss to Jessica Pegula of the U.S.
Azarenka didn't want to discuss her health afterward, but she did note how difficult it was to prepare for a major tournament after being one of 72 players who were in a hard quarantine for two weeks — not allowed to leave their hotel rooms for any reason — after potentially being exposed to COVID-19 on her flight to Australia.
"The biggest impact for me personally has been not being able to have fresh air," the 12th-seeded Azarenka said. "That really took a toll."
Another player, Paula Badosa, lost in the first round after going through a three-week isolation because she tested positive for COVID-19.
The 23-year-old from Spain, who is ranked 70th, served for the match but dropped the last four games and was beaten 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 7-5 across more than 2 1/2 hours by Russian qualifier Liudmila Samsonova.
"It was tough for me to recover," Badosa said.
In other early results on Day 2 on a sunny day with the temperature in the low 70s Fahrenheit (low 20s Celsius), 17-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz became the youngest man to win a Grand Slam match since Thanasi Kokkinakis was one day younger at the 2014 Australian Open.
16-year-old Gauff advances
And an even younger player, 16-year-old Coco Gauff, won 6-3, 6-2 against Jil Teichmann to set up a second-round showdown against No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina.
Alcaraz eliminated Botic Van de Zandschulp, a 25-year-old from the Netherlands who is ranked 151st, by a score of 6-1, 6-4, 6-4.
A seeded woman exited the tournament when Ann Li, a 20-year-old American, defeat No. 31 Zhang Shuai 6-2, 6-0 in just 47 minutes to improve to 5-0 this season.
All smiles for <a href="https://twitter.com/CocoGauff?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CocoGauff</a>, who moves on to the second round with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Teichmann. <br><br>Will face No.5 seed Elina Svitolina next!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AO2021?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AO2021</a> <a href="https://t.co/B5zZstsI3d">pic.twitter.com/B5zZstsI3d</a>—@WTA
Li is ranked 69th and competing in only her third career Grand Slam tournament.
She is coming off an unusual accomplishment at a tune-up tournament at Melbourne Park last week: Li shared the title of the Grampians Trophy with Anett Kontaveit because organizers decided not to hold a final so as not to wear out the players right before the Australian Open.
That warmup event was created for players who were in a hard lockdown last month.
With files from The Associated Press