MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA－For the first time in history, the Australian Open is set to be staged over 15 days, with a three-day opening round featuring record crowds kicking off the Grand Slam season. Amongst the buzz in Melbourne are 66 players from Team Yonex, with 26 men and 40 women making it the second most-used racquet at the AO this year.
Etcheverry impresses over Murray
Tomas Martin Etcheverry (ARG), a new Yonex member this year, has added depth to the team and is off to a good start in Melbourne. He won in straight sets against the veteran Andy Murray, a five-time finalist here. Etcheverry, 24, made his Grand Slam debut two years ago at the Australian Open, and last year made a breakout run to the French Open quarterfinals. He also made two finals in 2023, in Houston and Santiago.
Hurkacz building on strong 2024 start
A calm and humble presence, Hubert Hurkacz (POL) is the highest-ranked male member of Team Yonex at world No.9, and is eyeing a fourth-round clash against rising star Holger Rune（DEN）. Hurkacz had a strong start of the season, leading his country to the final of the United Cup two weeks ago. He was tested by Australian Omar Jasika in the first round, but smacked 24 aces off of his signature serve to win 7-6(4) 6-4 6-2.
Casper capable of going deeper
Caser Ruud (NOR) is looking to bounce back from a second-round defeat from a year ago, and started his AO 2024 campaign off well with a decisive 6-1 6-3 6-1 win over Albert Ramos-Vinolas in just 2 hours and 6 minutes. A year ago, he blamed his little preparation for the season for his Melbourne shortfall, but says that he’s used that lesson to focus on training ahead of this season. Ruud, who is coached by his father Christian (the former world No.39), has added a new physiotherapist to his team, and his body has been well maintained. The three-time Grand Slam finalist is off to a good start – and would like to take things one step further.
Garcia wins all-Yonex showdown with Osaka
Monday night was only Day 2 of the Australian Open, but the glittering showdown between Caroline Garcia (FRA) and Naomi Osaka (JPN) felt like a quarterfinal. Osaka, the two-time AO champion, was making her Grand Slam return after giving birth to daughter Shai in July, getting a warm welcome from the Melbourne crowd.
Both players pack power in every corner of their games, blasting powerful groundstrokes and possessing two of the biggest serves in women’s tennis. In a high-quality match on Rod Laver Arena, Garcia showed the kind of form that helped her reach the US Open semifinals in 2022, hitting 34 winners and never facing a break point on serve. It was a marquee match that delivered... and promised good things for Osaka’s comeback this year. After the win, Garcia soared out onto court for her signature “Fly with Caro” celebration, her arms spread like airplane wins. Is she ready to fly high in Melbourne?
Rybakina passes tough Pliskova test
Elena Rybakina (KAZ) came into Melbourne in strong form after winning the crown in Brisbane, where she exacted revenge from the 2023 AO final over Aryna Rybakina. In the first round in Melbourne, she faced another former world No.1: Karolina Pliskova (CZE). The big-hitting affair went to a tiebreak in the first set, with Rybakina roaring back from 3-6 down in the first-set tiebreak to win it 8-6, then using that confidence to prevail, 7-6(6) 6-4.
Rybakina has now won seven of her last eight matches at the Australian Open and is 12-2 in Australia dating back to last year’s AO first round.