01:13 PM GMT January 21, 2020
Eighteen-year-old Jannik Sinner needed only eight points to complete his first-round win on his Australian Open debut.
The reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion let slip a break advantage in the third set of his match against Aussie qualifier Max Purcell on Monday before rain washed out play for the rest of the day on the field courts. But Sinner quickly regrouped upon returning to Court 7 on Tuesday, defeating the World No. 216 7-6(2), 6-2, 6-4 after a total of two hours and 19 minutes.
"I was up in the score, so it was a little bit easier for me. Obviously I wanted to finish yesterday," Sinner said. "It can be difficult. I tried to go on court with a good mentality, and I started well. That was the key."
Sinner arrived in Melbourne having never competed in this event — in the main draw, qualifying or the juniors — but he now has his first Grand Slam main draw victory. The Italian will next face Hungarian Marton Fucsovics, who upset another #NextGenATP star, Denis Shapovalov, in the first round.
"I still have to study a little bit. I don't know so much about him," Sinner said. "I think [my coach] Riccardo Piatti] knows him a little bit better, so maybe he can give me some good tips for tomorrow."
One year ago this week, Sinner lost in the first round of a Futures event in Monastir, Tunisia. At the time, the Italian was No. 549 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.
But now at World No. 82, Sinner was never outside of his comfort zone against Purcell, breaking serve five times and winning 42 per cent of his return points.
The pair resumed play at 4-4 in the third set, with Purcell serving at 15/30, and Sinner was relentless, breaking two points later with a backhand drop volley. He then finished the match with an overhead to punctuate his victory in style.
Ninth seed Roberto Bautista Agut lost the first two hard-court meetings of his ATP Head2Head series against fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez. But Bautista Agut defeated Lopez 6-2, 6-2, 7-5 in two hours and 10 minutes to advance in Melbourne.
The Australian Open was the site of a Slam breakthrough last year for Bautista Agut, who made the last eight of a major for the first time here. He'd go on to reach the semi-finals at Wimbledon. The consistent baseliner will next play American wild card Michael Mmoh, who beat Spaniard Pablo Andujar 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.
Former World No. 3 Marin Cilic, who made the final in Melbourne two years ago, got his tournament off to a good start with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win against #NextGenATP Frenchman Corentin Moutet. The Croat has now made the second round of the season's first Grand Slam in 11 consecutive appearances.
Cilic, who needed only one hour and 46 minutes against the lefty Moutet, will next play No. 21 seed Benoit Paire, who battled hard to beat German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-0 after three hours and 19 minutes.
No. 14 seed Diego Schwartzman also faced few difficulties in the first round, easing past Adelaide finalist Lloyd Harris 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and 45 minutes. The Argentine broke the South African's serve six times and made only 18 unforced errors. He will play 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals competitor Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who eliminated qualifier Norbert Gombos 4-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, in the second round.
Roger Federer, who has won two of the past three Australian Opens, now knows his second-round opponent. He will face Serbian Filip Krajinovic, who survived a three-hour, 54-minute battle against Frenchman Quentin Halys 7-6(7), 7-6(1), 3-6, 4-6, 7-5.
Dusan Lajovic continued his strong start to the year, beating 2018 semi-finalist Kyle Edmund 7-6(7), 6-3, 7-6(4). The Serbian, who won four of his six matches during Team Serbia’s title run at the ATP Cup, will face Australian wild card Marc Polmans in the second round.