Wildcard underdog Aleksandar Vukic has fed off the energy of a parochial home crowd to claim the biggest win of his career, sending No.30 seed Lloyd Harris crashing out on day one of the Australian Open.
Vukic held his nerve in a tight encounter on Court 3, winning 4-6 6-3 7-5 7-6 (7-3) against South African Harris in two hours and 53 minutes.
It continued a good recent run of form from Sydneysider Vukic, who reached his first ATP Tour quarter-final last week in Adelaide before bowing out to eventual champion and fellow Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis.
The 25-year-old received a standing ovation from the delighted home crowd as Vukic shook his head, seemingly in disbelief after posting his breakthrough first main-draw win at a grand slam.
“It was one of the loudest atmospheres I’ve every seen to be honest and it was all for me, all for the Aussies,” said Vukic, who knows a fair bit about parochial supporters, having cut his teeth on the US collegiate circuit.
“I couldn’t have done it without them.
“It’s a dream for sure.”
Vukic’s reward is a second-round clash against Moldovan qualifier Radu Albot, with the winner of that match likely to face No.3 seed Alexander Zverev.
Zverev takes on John Millman in the second round, after the 32-year-old Australian beat fellow veteran Feliciano Lopez 6-1 6-3 4-6 7-5.
Harris became the first seed to exit the tournament on day one at Melbourne Park.
“I feel like I match up well with the big hitters because I have a similar style,” Vukic said.
“I rely a lot on my serve, so when I play against someone like that I know how to play them, because I know how to play me.
“I just feel comfortable against those guys.”
Coming off the best year of his career in 2021, world No.49 James Duckworth let slip a two-sets-to-one lead in a disappointing 6-4 2-6 3-6 6-2 6-1 loss to Frenchman Adrian Mannarino
The 29-year-old Australian No.2 has now won just four of his 11 matches at the majors that have gone to five sets.
AUSSIES IN ACTION ON DAY TWO OF THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN
(PREFIX DENOTES SEEDING)
Women’s singles, first round
Astra Sharma v Clara Tauson (DEN)
Storm Sanders v 2-Aryna Sabalenka (BLR)
Maddison Inglis v 23-Leyla Fernandez (CAN)
Priscilla Hon v 31-Marketa Vondrousova (CZE)
Samantha Stosur v Robin Anderson (USA)
Daria Saville v Rebecca Peterson (SWE)
Men’s singles, first round
32-Alex de Minaur v Lorenzo Musetti (ITA)
Alexei Popyrin v Arthur Rinderknech (FRA)
Jordan Thompson v Steve Johnson (USA)
Nick Kyrgios v Liam Broady (GBR)
Alex Bolt v Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP)
Chris O’Connell v Hugo Gaston (FRA)
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