MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – For all the air quality concerns at the Australian Open, the biggest problem related to playing conditions on the first day was heavy rain – which, hopefully, will also help contain destructive fires from fires in parts of the country.
Melbourne Park's three main arenas have retractable roofs, allowing the game to continue as planned. But nine games have been suspended in the afternoon on smaller courts and will resume on Tuesday, while another 23 have never started on Monday.
Some players found it difficult to breathe during qualifying last week, when the air was among the worst in the world because of the smoke from fires 100 miles away. On Monday, however, everything seemed to be fine.
"Today, it looked normal," said Serena Williams after her victory in the first round. "Yes, it looked very good."
Television screens in the locker rooms alerted players to the latest measurements of particles in the air, with a scale of 1 – the best – to 5.
"It was 1 when I left there, which looks like a glacier, Alaskan climate," said Sam Querrey, a Californian who won in straight sets before the showers arrived.
"The air looks totally good now," he said.
Querrey won, Borna Coric, number 25, said he was unaffected by the conditions.
"To be honest, I didn't feel any difference. I can understand that some players feel this, and I respect that. For me," joked Coric, "I was more uncomfortable with my forehand and serve than with the quality of the air."
Number 13, Denis Shapovalov, was the man or woman with the most seeds to come out on Monday's day session – and he did so while causing a riot, irritated by a warning he received from the chairman for throwing his racket.
"I don't think what I did was wrong. I'm steaming … to relax a little. I didn't break my racket," said the 20-year-old Canadian after the 6-3, 6-7 (7) defeat, 6-1, 7-6 (3) for Marton Fucsovics, 67th place.
"OK, I threw my racket," Shapovalov told reporters, "but so what?"
He rebuked Judge Renaud Lichtenstein, right after the call, saying, "It's my racket. I can do whatever I want with it" and then "it's a terrible call! Do your job!"
Ask Sam Querrey about your 2020 goals, and this is what you will hear from the 32-year-old American in 45th place: "Just be relevant".
He was certainly relevant on Monday in Melbourne, surpassing Croatia's Borna Coric number 25 by 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, with the help of 18 aces and another 19 unreturned serves.
"He is obviously a very, very dangerous player," said Coric, "as he showed today."
Or as Querrey showed at Wimbledon recently, reaching the quarterfinals for the past four years, including a semifinal in 2017, and defeating current champions Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray for years in a row.
"I still feel like I have moments when I can do some racing at Slams and win big tournaments," said Querrey, whose wife is expecting her first child, a son, next month. "I feel like I have the game that, when it's together, I can beat anyone."
WOZ STILL IN OZ
Caroline Wozniacki's career will last at least one more match.
The 2018 Australian Open champion and former number 1 said this will be the final tournament of her professional career at age 29, and she moved into the second round with a 6-1 6-3 victory over Kristie Ahn , from the USA.
Wozniacki said it was difficult to control his emotions.
"Every now and then, you're like, 'Wow'," she said, "this is really my last."
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