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Rublev tames Thiem, Sabalenka and Garcia stroll in Melbourne heat

ANDREY RUBLEV — 0M9EP

MELBOURNE — Fifth seed Andrey Rublev brought an end to the Australian Open campaign of former Grand Slam champion Dominic Thiem in the opening round on Tuesday when he overpowered the Austrian 6-3 6-4 6-2 on a sweltering John Cain Arena.

Mr. Thiem, a finalist at Melbourne Park and US Open champion in 2020, is on the comeback trail after a wrist injury and was able to compete only to a certain extent against the power of the rangy Russian.

In a match studded with high quality rallies between the two baseliners, Mr. Rublev broke for a 5-3 lead in the opening set, for 5-4 in the second and, after a huge roar, for 2-1 in the third.

Mr. Thiem was simply unable to get a foothold in the contest and the 25-year-old Mr. Rublev, a quarter-finalist at the Australian Open in 2021, served out for the match after little more than two hours on court.

Mr. Rublev, like all Russian and Belarusian players, is competing at the tournament without national affiliation as a result of last year’s invasion of Ukraine.

Tennis Australia on Tuesday morning banned fans from bringing flags of either nation into the Melbourne Park precinct after a Russian tricolor was hung on a bush next to a court where Ukrainian Kateryna Baindl was playing on Monday.

EXTREME HEATThe heat was the other main topic of conversation on the second day of the championships as temperatures soared towards a forecast high of 36 degrees Celsius (96.8°F).

Play was suspended on the outside courts shortly after 2 p.m. (0300 GMT) local time as the tournament’s Extreme Heat Policy came into play.

Top women’s seeds Aryna Sabalenka and Caroline Garcia spent as little time as possible on Rod Laver Arena in their opening matches at the year’s first Grand Slam.

Fifth seed Ms. Sabalenka, who opened the year by winning the Adelaide International 1 title without losing a set, kept up her fine form with an emphatic 6-1 6-4 victory over Tereza Martincova.

Fourth seed Ms. Garcia, who won the WTA Finals last season, was equally convincing with a 6-3 6-0 win over Canadian qualifier Katherine Sebov in just over an hour.

Ms. Garcia will next face another Canadian in 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez, who came from an early break down to beat Alize Cornet 7-5 6-2.

Italian Martina Trevisan was the first seed to fall on Tuesday. The 21st seed went down 6-3 6-2 to Slovakian qualifier Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

Novak Djokovic will begin his bid for a record-extending 10th title at Melbourne Park against Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena in the final match of the day on Rod Laver Arena. — Reuters

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