For the second year in a row, Australian battler John Millman has ended his Melbourne Park campaign in heartbreaking fashion, succumbing to Frenchman Corentin Moutet in five sets.
Millman, who last year came within inches of defeating Roger Federer in the third round of the Australian Open, maintained level pegging with his left-handed opponent up until the seventh game of the final set.
But after an error-strewn run of games, including a final chance dumped into the net, Moutet ousted the local hope 6-4 6-7(4) 3-6 6-2 6-3, silencing what was a raucous Court 3 crowd.
It was a remarkable turnaround for the 21-year-old Frenchman, who had earlier fired several verbal shots at the chair umpire and spectators.
In the women’s draw, Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka breezed through their first round draws, both shrugging off speculation about niggling injuries and shoulder soreness.
Hoping for a 24th major win, Serena Williams produced a masterclass in a 55-minute 6-1 6-1 rout of unseeded Germany’s Laura Siegemund.
The seven-time champion walked onto Rod Laver Arena in a brightly coloured one-legged catsuit, and said later the outfit was a tribute to the late Griffith-Joyner – known as Flo-Jo – a track legend who still holds the 100m and 200m world records she set in 1988.
The Olympic champion died 10 years later after suffering an epileptic seizure in her sleep, aged just 38.
“I was inspired by Flo-Jo, who was a wonderful track athlete, amazing athlete when I was growing up,” Williams said.
“Watching her fashion, just always changing. Her outfits were always amazing.”
And Japanese third seed Osaka also spent little time on court, beating Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 6-2 in a comprehensive victory.
Smoother sailing for Bolt and Tomljanovic
However, Millman’s heartbreak was quickly replaced by Australia’s first two winners, which came within minutes of each other.
First, wildcard Alex Bolt – who pushed eventual finalist Dominic Thiem to five sets last year – continued the fine form that saw him challenge Swiss ace Stan Wawrinka last week with a 6-2 6-2 4-6 6-3 victory over Norbert Gombos.
With 11 aces and 31 winners, it was a barnstorming display that belied Bolt’s ranking (he was ranked nearly twice his opponent).
Over in the women’s draw, big-hitting baseliner Ajla Tomljanovic made light work of Japan’s Misaki Doi on John Cain Arena, booking her spot in the second round with a comprehensive 6-2 6-1 victory in 71 minutes.
The Australian was dominant on serve, winning nearly three in every four first serve points, while punishing her opponent’s second serves, which rolled in at an average of 126 kilometres per hour.
Tomljanovic, who booked her spot in the round of 64 for the fourth time in her career, will next face the winner of fellow local Lizette Cabrera and Romanian second seed Simona Halep.
And in the final Australian result, wildcard Kimberly Birrell’s fight in the second set was not enough to thwart Canada’s Rebecca Marino – competing in her first major in eight years after an extended battle with depression – 6-0 7-6(9).