Canadian Milos Raonic is out at the Australian Open.
The 22nd seed in the men’s tournament, Raonic was stunned by unseeded Lukas Lacko of Slovakia 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (4) on Tuesday in the first round of the Grand Slam event.
The Thornhill, Ont., product is coming off an injury-filled season that saw his ranking drop to No. 24 from a career-high of No. 3 in 2016.
Raonic missed last year’s U.S. Open after undergoing wrist surgery. He returned to the tour for one tournament in Japan in October, but retired from his quarterfinal match. He has been among the most vocal proponents for shortening the nearly year-long tennis schedule to protect top players from injury.
Raonic is a former Wimbledon finalist and has reached at least the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park the last three years.
It’s only the third time that Raonic has lost in the first round of a major. Raonic also lost in the first round of the 2010 US Open and the 2011 French Open.
On the women’s side, Eugenie Bouchard toppled Oceane Dodin of France in straight sets 6-3, 7-6 (5).
Bouchard, from Westmount, Que., will play No. 1 Simona Halep next.
Fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov takes on No. 15 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a second-round match Tuesday at 7 pm ET.
Djokovic returns with victory
Six-time champion Novak Djokovic has advanced to the second round of the Australian Open for the 12th consecutive year, beating American Donald Young 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.
Young didn’t go out without a fight, however, saving four match points on his serve in the ninth game of the final set before Djokovic served out the match in the next game.
The 14th-seeded Djokovic was playing his first official tournament match since a six-month layoff after a right elbow injury kept him off the circuit since Wimbledon, where he lost in the quarterfinals.
He appeared to not be affected by any elbow issues during the Margaret Court Arena match.
Maria Sharapova marked her return to the Australian Open with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Germany’s Tatjana Maria in the first round.
The Russian was suspended from the tour for 15 months after testing positive for the drug meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open. She made her return to the tour last April, but didn’t contest her first Grand Slam tournament until the U.S. Open, where she reached the fourth round.
Sharapova, now ranked 48th, is one of two former Australian Open champions in the women’s field, alongside Angelique Kerber. Sharapova won the tournament in 2008 and has reached the final on three other occasions.
“I’ve got shivers,” Sharapova said of playing again at Melbourne Park. “It means a lot to me. I cherish these moments.”
Sharapova could next play 14th-seeded Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia, who beat the Russian at last year’s U.S. Open.
Wawrinka moves on
Stan Wawrinka struggled at times in his first match since last year’s Wimbledon, but held on to beat Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (2) in the first round of the Australian Open.
The 2014 champion only connected on 50 per cent of his first serves and was broken four times in the match. He also looked physically spent toward the end of the fourth set before rallying to dominate the tiebreaker and close out the match.
Wawrinka underwent surgery on his left knee after Wimbledon and didn’t play another match in 2017. He delayed his comeback at the start of this season by pulling out of a couple exhibitions before the Australian Open and made a last-minute decision to take part in the tournament.
“I’m proud to be back already,” he said after his match. “Honestly, to win today, it means a lot for me.”
The ninth-seeded Swiss player is also playing without a coach after splitting with long-time coach Magnus Norman in October.
Kerber continues streak
Former champion Angelique Kerber has won her 10th match in a row to start the season, beating fellow German Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-0, 6-4 in the first round.
Kerber, who won the 2016 Australian Open, won four singles matches at the Hopman Cup, then followed that up with five wins en route to the Sydney International title last week.
She needed four break points in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead, then held service in the next game after Friedsam had saved one match point.
Kerber will celebrate her 30th birthday on Thursday with a second-round match against either Nao Habino or Donna Vekic.