World No. 1 Andy Murray cruised, but three Top 10 seeds found themselves down a set in difficult encounters on Day 1 at the Australian Open.
No. 4 Stanislas Wawrinka came from a set down to defeat Slovak Martin Klizan in five 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, while No. 5 Kei Nishikori needed five sets to beat Russia’s hard-hitting Andrey Kuznetsov 5-7, 6-1, 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-2, and No. 7 Marin Cilic came from two sets down to disappoint Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz 4-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3.
Nishikori was not enthused about staying out for five sets in his opener to start his Melbourne campaign.
“I think I let him come back fourth set,” said Japan’s No. 1, who will next face Jeremy Chardy. “I should have finished that set. Especially I was up tiebreak, but I think he played well from the beginning. Fifth set I start playing much better. Yeah, it was tough, really tough match…Unfortunate to play five sets in long match, but, yeah, should be okay for next one.”
Wawrinka was down a break in the fifth against Klizan.
“I’m really happy to get through in five sets,” the Swiss said. “It wasn’t my best tennis today, but I was fighting, trying to stay in the game. I think he was playing well. He didn’t give me too much rhythm. He made me play not my best tennis. I’m happy to get through, that’s the most important thing.”
Murray kept the Ukraine’s Illya Marchenko at arm’s length with a 7-5, 7-6(5), 6-2 win. The Brit has not been a fan of the weather in Melbourne to start the week.
“I don’t think it was the best match, to be honest,” Murray said afterwards. “The conditions there were pretty different to what we’ve been practicing. Last week’s been pretty cool. A lot of days, it’s been overcast. The temperature of the court is much cooler. When it’s like that, the ball is bouncing a bit lower, a bit easier to control the ball. I was a bit tentative because of that. Didn’t serve that well either. So you end up having to work really hard on a lot of your service games when it’s like that. It just was tough.”
The only other Top 10er in action Monday, No. 10 Tomas Berdych, recieved a pass when Italian opponent Luca Vanni retired after losing the first set 6-1.
Lower seeds into the second round were No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 14 Nick Kyrgios, No. 17 Roger Federer who beat Jurgen Melzer in four in the final night match, No. 19 John Isner, No. 23 Jack Sock, No. 27 Bernard Tomic, No. 29 Viktor Troicki who needed five sets to tame Damir Dzumhur, and No. 31 Sam Querrey.
Federer will next meet American and No. 22-ranked Noah Rubin, who defeated countryman Bjorn Fratangelo in five 6-7(4), 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.
“I thought my serve was on and off in the beginning, which surprised me a little bit, because in practice it’s been going pretty well,” Federer said after winning in four sets. “I was feeling nervous once the match actually started. I was actually fine all day, warming up, in the warm-up five minutes with Jurgen. I felt fine. Then I hit four frames in a row. It was like, ‘Whew, it’s not as easy as I thought it was going to be.’”
Kyrgios told the media that since he’s beaten just about everyone in the draw, he does think of himself as a contender for the Australian Open title.
“I think I reserved a lot of energy [today],” Kyrgios said after his win. “I was actually really impressed with the way I served, the way I returned. I obviously haven’t played that many matches leading up to the match.”
The Aussie bad boy #2, Tomic, looked impressive in dropping only seven games against Thomaz Bellucci.
“I was working hard when everybody was saying I wasn’t ready and not fit,” Tomic told the media. “Obviously I proved that the first round was very high-quality tennis for me. It was hot, but I was trying to focus on what I needed to do. It was a very, very quality match from a tough opponent in the first round.”
Three upsets of the day were of lower seeds as Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik ousted No. 16 Lucas Pouille 6-0, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4; Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman put down No. 22 Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 6-3, 6-0; and Slovak Lukas Lacko ground out a five-set win over No. 26 Albert Ramos 4-6, 7-5, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Notable winners in all-unseeded meetings were Andrey Rublev taking out veteran Lu Yen-Hsun in four, Steve Johnson who will next face Wawrinka, Brit Daniel Evans continuing his hot streak, Ryan Harrison dismissing Nicolas Mahut in straights, and Aussie 17-year-old Alex De Minaur outlasting Gerald Melzer in five sets after losing the first and fending off a match point later in the contest.
“Words can’t describe how I’m feeling right now,” the Aussie teen said. “Definitely the happiest moment of my life. I was struggling a fair bit. At the start of the fifth, I was also feeling it. But I thought it was really important to just push through and finally get the win.”
Rublev will next meet Murray.
“I know a little bit about him,” Murray said. “I never hit with him or played against him, but I’ve seen him play before and he goes for it. He doesn’t hold back. You know, he hits a big ball. Clean ball-striker.”
Matches to look for on Tuesday in Melbourne are (9) Rafael Nadal vs. Florian Mayer, (2) Novak Djokovic vs. Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco, (3) Milos Raonic vs. the net-rushing Dustin Brown, (11) David Goffin vs. the towering former Wimbledon juniors champ (Q) Reily Opelka, former No. 2 Tommy Haas vs. Benoit Paire, Fabio Fognini vs. (28) Feliciano Lopez, and (25) Gilles Simon vs. the hard-hitting (WC) Michael Mmoh.
If you’re up for some shotmaking, check out Alexandr Dolgopolov vs. Borna Coric, and if you want to turn the clock back 10 years, then tune in to Dmitry Tursunov vs. Radek “The Worm” Stepanek.
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