Angelique Kerber struggled to find any rhythm in her opening meeting at the Australian Open. Photo / AP
Welcome to the first day of the 2021 Australian Open. On the day of the blockbuster first-round match, a very different Open kicked off in drama with another hotel quarantine frenzy.
The action in court promised to be just as dramatic when it started from 1pm (NZ time). You can check out the latest updates below and watch the action live on Sky Sport, or stream via Sky Sport Now.
19.30: Big chaos in Melbourne
Former world number 1 and three-time grand slam champion Angelique Kerber was eliminated from the Open in the first round due to a crushing defeat.
Unseeded Bernarda Pera, ranked 149th in the world, beat 23rd seed Germany 6-0 6-4 to advance to the second round.
Kerber won the Australian Open in 2016, but was in dire straits as a two-week quarantine took its toll.
“You feel it, especially if you play a real game where it is important and you play the first game in a grand slam, also against an opponent who doesn’t survive the hard locks,” he said.
“Of course, you feel it if you don’t hit the ball for two weeks and you’re out of rhythm.”
Kerber admitted he was unprepared for two weeks in quarantine and said if he had known that was necessary he would think twice about coming to Australia at all.
This is the first time Kerber has been eliminated before the fourth round at Melbourne Park since 2015.
18.00: Monfils breaks down in a press conference
French star Gael Monfils was the highest victim on Day 1 of the Aussie Open, surprised by Emil Ruusuvouri.
The world number 10 fell in five grueling sets from his Finnish rivals 3-6 6-4 7-5 3-6 6-3 to a new record low which was devastating due to a worrisome slump in form.
Monfils has not won a match since tennis returned from a suspension imposed by the pandemic.
Emotional Monfils broke down in tears during his post-match press conference as he tried to explain his struggle to regain his best form.
“I want to get out of this nightmare, but I can’t,” he said.
“I was not feeling well.”
17:10: Controversy when wild humans come back from the dead
Aussie John Millman crashed out in a five-set rollercoaster marathon with French racer Corentin Moutet exploding with drama.
Moutet grumbled while grumbling at the end of the second set and smashed his racket after a fierce battle with the chair referee.
When a controversial net call didn’t work out and he conceded in the third set, Moutet looked dead in the water.
With Millman leading the two sets to one, Moutet slumped on the sidelines and appeared to take a nap before the fourth.
Despite self-destructing during his ongoing dispute with the chair referee, the 21-year-old pulled himself together in the fourth set to send the match into the decisive fifth.
Moutet had an argument with the chair and was at one point heard asking if the referee was “proud” of hitting him with an unsportsmanlike code violation.
The play shot up again in the third set, won by Millman, when the Australian fiddled with the net wire as he won a vital point.
Millman rushed to greet the ball that fell off the side of the net and a desperate lunge finally bobbled over the net for a clear winner.
However, Millman had to try and slam the break before breaking into the net while the ball was still alive.
Millman shows outstanding athleticism and balance to the edges of the net while his body weight and body lean against his opponent’s side.
Despite Moutet’s complaining, Millman won the points and took the third set just minutes later.
However, Moutet put in a great struggle to secure a vital break in the fifth set and left with a grueling 6-4 6-7 3-6 6-2 6-3 win after nearly four hours on the pitch.
2pm: Crowd goes cold at the Open
The bizarre photos from the audience at Melbourne Park show a very different Australian Open.
With crowds of up to 30,000 and masked spectators forced to secede in remote areas of the Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and John Caine Arena, the usually bustling festival atmosphere off the grounds has been replaced by a serene and eerie atmosphere.
The Victorian government confirmed last week that masks would become mandatory at venues deemed classified as indoor stadiums, meaning fans must wear masks while moving around the Rod Laver Arena when the roof is closed. They do not need to wear a mask when sitting in the designated chair.
Despite the excitement about this year’s first grand slam taking place against the overwhelming challenge of creating a major event safe from Covid-19, there is reportedly a cold response from Melbourne residents.
Channel 7 reporter Nick McCullum posted on Twitter Monday that ticket sales were “slow for the first day”.
13.00: Unlock angry star friction
Australian Open star Paula Badosa has taken a new step in a hotel quarantine program after testing positive for Covid-19 in forced lockdown.
The Spanish star claimed he was being treated like a “criminal” by Australian authorities and described the experience as “nightmare” and gruesome.
The extraordinary claim comes just days after Badosa apologized for his earlier complaints about the conditions he experienced while locked up in Melbourne.
She became the first woman on the tournament list to have a confirmed positive test and did not emerge from isolation until Thursday, just four days before the start of the Open.
She now flips again, complaining about how she was treated after testing positive.
‘It was a nightmare. They treated me as if I were a criminal, they transferred me from one hotel to another with police officers escorting me, “he told Spanish publications. Country.
He said officials should have a better backup plan for players and officials who have tested positive in the lockdown.
“They should raise better conditions for handling cases knowing that some players and support staff will test positive,” he said.
Badosa has previously claimed that tournament officials changed player rules after they arrived in Australia, after he was on one of the flights that included one passenger who tested positive on landing in Australia.
“Initially the rule was that the positive parts of the plane with that person were to be quarantined. Not the entire plane,” he wrote in a tweet which was later deleted.
“It’s not fair to change the rules at the last minute. And have to live in a room without windows and without air.”
10.30: Djokovic ‘disrespects Kyrgios
World number 1 Novak Djokovic said on Sunday he lacked respect for Nick Kyrgios’ antics off the pitch after the polarized Australian recently called him a “tool”.
Kyrgios has had a fierce battle with the Serb in recent times, sparked by last year’s Adria Tour Djokovic exhibition series when the coronavirus pandemic raged.
After denouncing his “stupidity” when some of the players co-infected with Covid-19, Kyrgios also quickly weighed in when Djokovic was sensationally disqualified from the US Open for hitting a woman line judge with a ball.
Djokovic said he had mixed views on the flammable Kyrgios.
“Off the pitch, I don’t really respect him, to be honest,” he told reporters before starting his campaign in Melbourne Park on Monday.
“That’s where I’ll close it. I really don’t have any further comments for him, his own comments for me or anything else he’s trying to do.”
10am: Andy Murray ‘p ***** off’ at the officials
Andy Murray claims he and his family caught the coronavirus because of the lax Covid-19 protocol – ruining the Australian Open before he could even travel to Australia.
In a catastrophic explosion against tennis officials in Britain, the “knocked out” doubles Wimbledon champion accused the Wimbledon Tennis Association of “putting people in serious danger” with lax Covid-19 biosafety measures.
Sun Murray reports furiously after at least one member of his family also tested positive for the virus.
“I can’t pick it up anywhere else. I didn’t leave my house or the NTC for ten weeks. And obviously there have been some positive cases there,” he said.
“I stick to all protocols. I’m very careful because it’s not just tennis reasons. None of my team got it.
“I was the only one who took it and none of my family had it before me.
“So how we behaved there shows we didn’t behave badly, otherwise I imagine one of them will catch it from me. I am very comfortable with the way I behave.”
Day session (starting at 13.00):
Naomi Osaka (3) beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 6-1 6-2
Corentin Moutet (FRA) beat John Millman (AUS) 6-4 6-7 3-6 6-2 6-3
Alex Bolt (AUS) beat Norbert Gombos (SVK) 6-2 6-2 4-6 6-3
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) beat Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-2 6-1
Serena Williams (USA)  beat Laura Siegemund (GER) 6-1 6-1
Dominic Thiem (AUT)  beat Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 7-6 6-2 6-3
Bernarda Pera (CRO) beat Angelique Kerber (GER)  6-0 6-4
Alexander Zverev (GER)  beat Marcos Giron (USA) 6-7 7-6 6-3 6-2
Evening sessions (starting at 21:00):
Frederico Ferreira Silva (POR) v Nick Kyrgios (AUS)
Lizette Cabrera (AUS) v Simona Halep (ROU) 
Dennis Shapovalov (CAN)  v Jannik Sinner (ITA)
Novak Djokovic (SRB)  v Jeremy Chardy (FRA)