ATP Brisbane: Mixed results for Australians, Americans

2018 has arrived and a handful of men got the dream start to their new year on January 1st in Brisbane as first-round action at the Brisbane International continued. The United States highlighted the day with four men in action, suffering mixed fates, while the first seeded player was victorious Here’s what happened on day two in Brisbane.


Eighth seed Mischa Zverev avoided the early upset trend that dogged day one in Brisbane, getting off to a strong start in 2018 with a straight-sets win over Aussie John-Patrick Smith. Zverev, one of the tour’s craftiest players, fell behind a break in the opening set, only to reel off four straight games to take a one-set lead.

The second was wild, with the eighth seed breaking Smith’s serve twice in the first three games for a 3-0 lead, only for the Aussie to battle back. Smith reclaimed both breaks, including when Zverev served for the match at 5-4, eventually levelling the set at 5-5. But the home favourite’s comeback fell short as he immediately surrendered serve again in the following game, setting up the German to serve out the 6-4, 7-5 victory. Zverev’s efficiency on break point was key, as he converted five of his six opportunities while saving three of the six he faced.

Mischa Zverev hits a serve. Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
Mischa Zverev hits a serve. Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

21-year-old American Jared Donaldson won a battle of young guns, knocking off Australia’s Jordan Thompson in straight sets. The young American’s return of serve was dominant in the opening set, as he held break points in all of Thompson’s service game and converted three of them to take the opening set 6-2. The Aussie settled down in the second set, hanging on until the seventh game when Donaldson finally claimed the crucial break, riding it to a 6-2, 6-4 victory. Donaldson pummeled Thompson’s second serve, winning 66 percent of the Aussie’s second serve points. Thompson managed to save seven break points in the match but was still broken four times while only converting one of his five break points.

It wasn’t all bad for the host Aussie’s on January 1st, as Matthew Ebden handed Frances Tiafoe, one of the tour’s more promising youngsters, a disappointing season-opening defeat on Monday. Ebden broke Tiafoe’s serve four times, twice in each set, on his way to a straight sets win. A run of three straight breaks midway through the opener left the Aussie with a lead and he never looked back, taking the opening set before winning four straight games from 2-2 in the second to book his place in the second round.

Ebden pounded seven aces past Tiafoe and converted four of his five break points. Tiafoe only put 54 percent of his first serves in play and was punished for missing, only winning 29 percent of his second serve points. Ebden moves on to face countryman and third seed Nick Kyrgios in the second round.

Frances Tiafoe hits a forehand during his opening loss of 2018. Photo: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Frances Tiafoe hits a forehand during his opening loss of 2018. Photo: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

The American’s suffered mixed fates on day two as Ryan Harrison was victorious, but after battling through qualifying, Ernesto Escobedo was sent packing, taking the country’s record to 2-2 in the first round. Harrison won the first three-setter of the tournament, overcoming Leonardo Mayer to reach the second round. After splitting the first two sets by one break each, Harrison broke early in the third before breaking again to wrap up the victory. He will meet second seed Andy Murray in the second round.

Escobedo was never in the match against Horacio Zeballos, failing to reach break point until the final game of the match. But the break he surrendered in the opening game of the second set proved to be too much to overcome as Zeballos advanced in straight sets.

First round action continues on Tuesday.