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Ups and downs Down Under

Monday’s start to the Australian Open saw two Portuguese players ranked in the world top 100 play in a Grand Slam tournament for the first time since the Portuguese Tennis Federation came into existence on March 16 1925.

Algarvean Rui Machado had to overcome a potentially career-ending injury before climbing almost 800 places over the past two years to reach these lofty heights.

A better player on clay, the 26-year-old managed to take a set from Columbian Santiago Giraldo before bowing out 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 in round one.

That left Davis Cup team mate Frederico Gil, more comfortable on the Melbourne hard courts, to fly his country’s flag.

Facing old adversary Pablo Cuevas, Gil fought like a lion to triumph 6-4, 6-7, 4-6, 6-3, 9-7 and earn a second round showdown with Gael Monfils, who also needed five sets to overcome Holland’s Thiemo de Bakker.

Current champion Roger Federer is attempting to become the first man to hold the Australian title on five occasions while seeing off the likes of world No1 Rafael Nadal, Britain’s Andy Murray and the once promising Martin Del Potro

In the ladies draw, Kim Clijsters will be determined to take advantage of Serena Williams’ absence to dethrone new ranking leader Caroline Wozniacki.