It may not be 2018 yet, but the 2018 tennis season has arrived, and the drama has already begun. The 2018 Brisbane International kicked off the new tennis season on Sunday with a pair of first-round matches. And only two matches into the new season and the upsets have already begun, with the lower-ranked player winning both matches. Here’s what happened on day one in Brisbane.
Diego Schwartzman, who had a career-year in 2017, was the first seeded player to take the court in the new season and quickly became the victim of the first upset of the 2018 season. The sixth seed was sent packing in straight sets by world number 38 Alexandr Dolgopolov in the first round on Sunday.
The opening set was tight, with neither player facing any pressure on their serve until the 10th game, when Dolgopolov converted the only break point in the set to claim it 6-4. The Ukrainian seemed well on his way to victory when he broke early and raced to a 3-0 lead in the second set, but choked serving for the match and was broken to give Schwartzman a lifeline. After serve had dominated the match, the returners dominated the tiebreak. Dolgopolov won all of his opponent’s service points, hanging on to take the tiebreak 7-3 and wrap up a 6-4, 7-6(3) upset.
Another day one upset gave the home fans something to cheer for, as Aussie wildcard Alex De Minaur, ranked 208th in the world, stunned world number 44 Steve Johnson in straight sets. The young Aussie did a good job to hang with the powerful American through the early stages of the opening set but seemed to lose his grip as the pressure mounted late. Johnson held a pair of set points on De Minaur’s serve in the 12th game of the set before holding 6-4 and 7-6 leads in the tiebreak, totaling five set points. But de Minaur held his nerve, saving all five before converting his first set point to take the tiebreak 9-7.
De Minaur would be forced to pull another escape act in the second set. After failing to convert break points in two early games, the young Aussie found himself broken to 15 in the seventh game. However, that would prove to be Johnson’s last stand. The world number 208 roared back, reclaiming the break in the very next game to level the set at 4-4. After holding to love to force, Johnson to serve to stay in the match, De Minaur claimed his third straight game with a second straight break to wrap up the upset 7-6(9), 6-4. De Minaur will have his hands full again in the second round when he meets fourth seed Milos Raonic.
First round action will continue in the new year, tomorrow on January 1st.