British No 2 Jodie Burrage lost nine of the last 10 games after Tamara Korpatsch took a six-minute toilet break at the end of the first set; we will bring you live scores, reports, analysis and features from Melbourne over the next fortnight
Image: Jodie Burrage saw her Australian Open debut end in defeat on opening Sunday at Melbourne Park
Jodie Burrage was unable to build on a good start as her Australian Open debut ended with a first-round loss to German Tamara Korpatsch.
Burrage earned her spot in the main draw for the first time with a strong year in 2023 and she played with confidence and purpose to take the opening set as the year’s first Grand Slam made its maiden Sunday start.
But, as Korpatsch steadied after heading to the bathroom for six minutes at the end of the first set, Burrage’s unforced error count began to rise and it was the German who came through 2-6 6-3 6-0, winning nine of the final 10 games.
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Image: Burrage's unforced error count cost her against world No 80 Tamara Korpatsch
The tactical use of toilet breaks has been a hot topic in recent seasons, and players now only have three minutes, but that does not count the time walking to and from the court.
“I’m not sure why it was so long,” said Burrage. “I did ask (the umpire), and he said, ‘Yes, she’s used her three minutes, she’s just on her way back’. But then that took another few minutes. I get that it’s a big park, though, so maybe it just took a long time for her to get there.
“You’ve just got to keep playing matches and get used to how you want to deal with when your opponent is changing up the rhythm of it and trying to disrupt your rhythm, which is what she did in the second and third (sets) because it seemed like every change it was something different, whether it was her shoe or her rackets or towel.”
The pair had met twice in the closing months of last season, with Korpatsch winning both, but Burrage knew she had the power advantage and she used it well in the first set.
The 24-year-old served strongly and seized on her opponent’s weaker delivery to break twice.
She was in the ascendancy again to start the second set but Korpatsch hung on and the momentum began to swing as the German, who had looked uncomfortable and unsettled, asked Burrage more questions.
Image: Burrage had chances at the end of the second set but could not take them
The British No 2 had chances to get back on serve at the end of the second but could not take them and the decider quickly ran away from her in a slew of errors.
“I can play at a high level. It’s just getting it for two hours instead of 45 minutes,” added Burrage.
“When someone just stops missing and puts balls in court, it’s not easy to have the confidence to hit through them. I need to learn how to back myself on the court because at the moment I don’t in those situations.
“You could see it today. It was just absolutely panic stations at some point. So that’s what all of these experiences and being at this level and hitting with these types of players, you just get more experiences like that.”
Korpatsch will next take on Czech ninth seed Barbora Krejcikova who appeared to be struggling in her first-round clash with Japan’s Mai Hontama, but the 2021 French Open champion bounced back from a sluggish start to find her stride and win 2-6 6-4 6-3.
“It was a really, really difficult match. I was struggling, but I believed I could come back and level up my game,” Krejcikova said
Murray returns to Melbourne Park on Monday
Image: Andy Murray returns to Grand Slam action in the early hours of Monday morning in the UK
Andy Murray will make his 16th appearance in the main draw when he faces 30th seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the first round from around 3.30am GMT.
It was five years ago at the 2019 Australian Open when three-time Grand Slam champion Murray contemplated retirement and a highlights montage shown after his round-one exit appeared to signal the end of his career.
Surgery to resurface his hip followed and while it has enabled the five-time Australian Open runner-up to continue playing well into his thirties, the Scot cut a frustrated figure at the end of 2023.
However, he secured a morale-boosting first win of the season against Dominic Thiem at the Kooyong Classic.
While only in an exhibition event, the 6-4 6-2 victory was very welcome for Murray, who lost to Grigor Dimitrov in the first round of the Brisbane International last week before falling to defeat against Marin Cilic at Kooyong on Wednesday.
Murray revealed that he has learned to complete the Rubik’s Cube since his arrival Down Under.
“I learned to complete it,” he smiled. “My daughter got one for Christmas and I thought, ‘oh well, I should try and learn how to do it, so I can teach her’. So, yeah, I did that when I got over here.”
Last hurrah for Murray?
Andy Murray conjured up two of his more memorable wins in Australia last year, seeing off Matteo Berrettini in five sets and then somehow fighting back to defeat Thanasi Kokkinakis at 4am.
The Scot played at his best level since hip surgery in 2023 yet it was another season of frustration and near misses rather than the sort of achievements he craves. Murray cut a particularly unhappy figure at the end of the year and is openly talking about how long he has left.
If this is the 36-year-old’s last appearance at Melbourne Park, hopefully it will be one to remember for the right reasons.
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Five other British players will contest the main draw including Emma Raducanu, Cameron Norrie, Katie Boulter, Dan Evans and Jack Draper.
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