(Melbourne) Under the Italian flags in Melbourne, Jannik Sinner started the Australian Open tennis tournament with a victory on Saturday, winning 6-4, 7-5 and 6-3 against Botic van de Zandschulp.

The fourth seed needed 2:35 to end his duel against the 59th in the world. This is his first victory since November, during which he scored a memorable victory against Novak Djokovic which helped Italy win the Davis Cup.

“It means a lot to me to start [the season] with a victory,” Sinner said. Physically, I feel good. I am here in good shape. I think I can be satisfied today. »

Several Sinner supporters, nicknamed the “Carota Boys” and now famous for their carrot costumes, were present in the stands. Sinner did not hide his surprise at their presence.

“It’s good to see them in the stands,” he said. They are slowly becoming more famous than me. Maybe their support gives me extra confidence during key moments, who knows? Let’s see how it goes here. But I’m happy they’re here. »

Another Italian, Matteo Arnaldi (41st), beat Adam Walton (176th) 7-6 (5), 6-2 and 6-4.

The first match to go to five sets was won 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 2-6 and 6-2 by Francisco Cerundolo, 22nd seed, against Australian Dane Sweeny (257th).

Marin Cilic (unranked), finalist in 2018, was defeated 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 and 7-5 by Hungarian Fabian Marozsan (65th).

Among the women, Maria Sakkari (eighth) breathed a sigh of relief by defeating the Japanese Nao Hibino (92nd) 6-4 and 6-1. It was his first Grand Slam victory since the Australian Open last year.

“I lost three times in the first round in the last three Grand Slam tournaments,” she said. For me, it was an emotionally difficult match. I’m happy to have done the job and played a good second set. »

Brenda Fruhvirtova (110th) signed her first victory at a major tournament. The 16-year-old Czech defeated Romanian Anna Bogdan (66th) 2-6, 6-4 and 6-3.

Lesia Tsurenko (32nd) came from behind to defeat Lucia Bronzetti (56th) 3-6, 7-5 and 6-3 and the Russian Maria Timofeeva (144th) had the upper hand 6-2 and 6-4 against the Frenchwoman Alizé Cornet (112th). The latter was taking part in a 68th consecutive Grand Slam tournament, a record for women.

The first major tournament of the season will stretch over 15 days – the first round is spread over three days – and began on a Sunday for the first time.

Caroline Wozniacki, ex-N. 1 crowned in Australia in 2018, made a winning return in Melbourne, benefiting from the retirement of the Polish Magda Linette in the first round.

Wozniacki was leading 6-2, 2-0 after 55 minutes of the match when Linette, visibly suffering from back pain, gave up.

“I think I played really well. I tried to take the ball early, to be aggressive, she describes. I feel like home, it brings back good memories. »

What is she secretly dreaming about?

“The dream, obviously, is to win the tournament. I worked hard to come back, I didn’t think I would come back after having two children in quick succession, it’s a bonus, but honestly, I think I play well, so why not me? “, dares Wozniacki, whose children probably “watched the first thirty minutes” before going to bed.

Wozniacki will face young Russian qualifier Maria Timofeeva in the second round.