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Melbourne | Aussies get off the mark

While America mourns the demise of their major players in both Australian Open draws, the home nation is happy with the progress their players have made on the first day of Melbourne.

Their big hope is Nick Kyrgios who stormed into the next round and – as seems to be his usual practice – collected a code violation in the process as he dispatched Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil, 6-1 6-2 6-4 in 87-minutes.

The 17th seed was hardly tested as he cruised through the opening set but was irritated by a spectator’s chatter while he was preparing to serve when leading 4-1. He turned on the offending member of the public and rebuked him using some colourful language which prompted the umpire to hand him a code violation.

It did lead to a discussion at the chair on the changeover with Kyrgios admonishing the umpire for not keeping spectators quiet when players were serving.

Kyrgios added afterwards: “I just was surprised that he didn’t say anything to the crowd as soon as I’m serving. I don’t know. Obviously didn’t bother me too much.”

Speaking of the match itself, he added: “I was very nervous to come out here first match of the Australian Open. I don’t think that I played as well as I was playing in Brisbane [where he won] right now. Hopefully I can continue to improve and find my feet out here.”

He also spoke of the expectations of playing in a home Grand Slam.

“Obviously, people expect me to do very well here. But I guess you just put the added pressure on yourself,” he said.

“You want to do well in front of your home crowd, just want to make them proud, I guess.”

Kyrgios faces a harder opponent in round two, namely Serbia’s Viktor Troicki, and admitted he would be “tricky”. He said: “He knows the ups and downs that come in a Grand Slam match.”

Joining him in the second round is his countryman Matt Ebden who upset the 6th seeded John Isner for the biggest win of his career. Ebden, aged 30 and ranked two in Australia, stunned the American 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-3 to claim his first-top-ten scalp at a grand slam.

Having lost to Isner in their previous two meetings, Ebden, ranked 78, said: “He is such a great player and so tough to beat so I had to stay composed and find a bit of extra positivity and energy and I think I got that from the crowd, so thank you.

“I am working hard and trying my best and … it’s nice to get some rewards. I’ve been playing better the last six months, I want to keep it going.”

Edben will next face Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov on Wednesday.

Not long after Isner’s defeat, his compatriot Jack Sock, seeded eight, also crashed out to Japan’s Yuichi Sugita 6-1 7-6(4) 5-7 6-3. All his attempts to get back into the match proved fruitless as the American nightmare continued.

Their only consolation came thanks to Ryan Harrison who came through a tough five-setter against the Israeli Dudi Sela 6-3 5-7 6-3 5-7 6-2 but not without some controversy.

Playing out on Court 22, Harrison accused Sela of lying about a controversial call when the Israeli denied that a ball had touched him during the first set before going out over the baseline. Sela was awarded the point only for Harrison’s frustrations to later pour out at a change over in the second set when he heatedly, faced down Sela at the umpire’s chair. The crowd by now were in full support of the Israeli and showed their displeasure at the American’s actions by booing him off court following his win.

In other first day action, Rafa Nadal opened his bid for a second Aussie title with the comprehensive annihilation of the 37-year-old Dominican Victor Estrella Burgos dropping just three games, one per set, after 94-minutes.

Grigor Dimitrov, the third seed, also cruised through his first round opponent requiring 98-minutes to record a 6-3 6-2 6-1 win in his bid to secure his first grand slam title..

“I love playing on this court, it was tricky weather with a lot of wind in the warm-up and I tried to be compact and focused,” Dimitrov said. “It’s always a dream of mine to win a Slam, this is the next step, and the only thing I can do is to give 100 per cent in each match.”

Also through is the Spanish 19th seed, Pablo Carreno Busta who prevented another Australian success when he beat wildcard Jason Kubler 7-5 4-6 6-1 in three and a half hours. The Spaniard, a semi-finalist at last year’s US Open, hopes to improve on his third round appearance, his best at Melbourne.



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