Leylah Fernandez shook off some rust and early jitters before unwinding to bounce Alize Cornet 7-5, 6-2 in women’s singles in the first round at the Australian Open on Monday night.
It took Fernandez less time to win the second set as she seemed to get stronger throughout the match while her competitor teed off after a strong first set.
Fernandez had 24 service winners, one ace, no double faults and 19 unforced errors, most in the top half of the first set. Cornet had two aces, 26 unforced errors and six double errors.
Toronto’s 24-year-old Katherine Sebov, who is making her Grand Slam debut, is currently on court at Melbourne Park against France’s 29-year-old Caroline Garcia, the 2022 WTA singles champion and number 4 in the rankings player at the Australian Open.
LOOK | Fernandez through to the 2nd round of the Australian Open for the 1st time:
Australian Open bans flags from Russia and Belarus on the spot
Flags from Russia and Belarus were banned from the Australian Open grounds on Tuesday after more than one was brought into the stands by spectators on day 1 of the first Grand Slam tournament of the year.
Flags can normally be displayed during games at Melbourne Park. But Tennis Australia reversed that policy for the two countries involved in the invasion of Ukraine that began nearly a year ago.
“Our initial policy was that fans were allowed to bring [flags] in but could not use them to cause disruption,” Tennis Australia said in a statement on Tuesday. “Yesterday we had an incident where a flag was placed on the court. We will continue to work with the players and our fans to ensure this is the best possible environment to enjoy tennis.”
I strongly condemn the public display of the Russian flag during Ukrainian tennis player Kateryna Baindl’s match at the Australian Open today. I call on Tennis Australia to immediately enforce its “neutral flag” policy. @TennisAustralia @AustralianOpen pic.twitter.com/zw8pLN4FIF
A Russian flag was displayed during Ukrainian Kateryna Baindl’s 7-5, 6-7 (8), 6-1 victory over Russian player Kamilla Rakhimova on Court 14 in the first round on Monday.
Another was presented to Russian player Daniil Medvedev to sign after his 6-0, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Marcos Giron at the Rod Laver Arena.
“I call on Tennis Australia to immediately enforce its neutral flag policy.”
Athletes from Russia and Belarus were banned from Wimbledon and team events such as the Billie Jean King Cup and Davis Cup last year due to the war in Ukraine. Russia invaded in February, with help from Belarus.
Russian and Belarusian players have been allowed to compete in the other three Grand Slam tournaments, but as “neutral” athletes, so their nationalities are not recognized on official schedules or results for the event and their country’s flags are not shown on TV graphics.