Melbourne | Medvedev survives a strong opening challenge
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
The player who is most likely to disrupt the dominance of the Big Three, Daniil Medvedev, aptly seeded fourth behind them, found himself embroiled in a challenging first round match with Frances Tiafoe.
think I could do many things better, but it is a big win and I'm happy to be through Daniil Medvedev
The talented 23-year-old, Russian who won four titles last year and was runner-up at the US Open, eventually succeeded in outlasting his American challenger 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena.
“It was a really tough first match, it was up and down for both of us. A first round is never easy, especially against someone like Frances,” Medvedev, who is one of the favourites for the Melbourne title which if he is successful, would be his first.
“There were many moments where I felt I had momentum, but he straightaway came back.
“I think I could do many things better, but it is a big win and I’m happy to be through.”
Alexander Zverev, the seventh seed and another of the NextGen pretenders but has yet to really fulfil his potential, eased past the 77th-ranked Italian Marco Cecchinato 6-4 7-6(4) 6-3 on the Margaret Court Arena, using his serve to great effect.
“It was a great first-round match, a lot of high-level tennis, especially from the baseline,” said the German.
“I hope maybe I can do better than the last few years. I’m a year older, not much wiser, but trying my best, practising hard and trying to do the right things.”
He won just one title last year and slipped down the rankings to seven from four at the start of the season.
Meanwhile Nick Kyrgios is enjoying a new lease of life thanks to his efforts in getting the tennis community mobilised on behalf of the Bushfire victims and fire fighters and was welcomed with a huge roar when he made his first appearance at his home grand slam.
He thrived in the Melbourne Arena atmosphere and ground his way past Italian Lorenzo Sonego 6-2 7-6(3) 7-6(1) to book a second round berth.
“I was just really excited to get out here. Obviously a pretty emotional couple of months for all of us, so I just wanted to come out and put on a good performance,” said the Aussie, who has never gone beyond the last eight at a Major.
Also through is the big serving Springbok, Kevin Anderson who recovered from two sets and one down to battle past Belarusian qualifier Ilya Ivashka, saving one match point in set four, 6-4 2-6 2-6 6-4,7-6(8) in three hours and 54 minutes to progress.
Anderson will next face American 29th seed Taylor Fritz who beat Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor 6-3 6-3 6-3.
Earlier on Tuesday, Lloyd Harris lost to Argentine 14th-seed Diego Schwartzman 6-4 6-2 6-2 after 105 minutes while committing 47 unforced errors.
On a day when 88 first-round matches thanks to rain wiping out half of Monday’s schedule, the former US Open champion Marin Cilic and Milos Raonic both moved safely through.
Italy’s Fabio Fognini, two sets down against America’s Reilly Opelka when their match was suspended on Monday, returned to win it in five after a stormy encounter when both players argued furiously with the umpire.
A new star emerged in 18-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner, last year’s NextGen champion, who earned his first Grand Slam victory against Australia’s Max Purcell while 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka needed four sets to get past Damir Dzumhur but there was disappointment for France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 2008 finalist, who retired with a back injury against Australia’s Alexei Popyrin.