Some of tennis’ biggest names made their season debuts on Wednesday at the Brisbane International, but it was hardly the start they wanted. The hometown crowd was excited to see Nick Kyrgios kick off his 2018 campaign, but had to hold their breath as the Aussie number one needed three sets to survive a tough start to the year. Not long after, a former champion was sent packing in his opening match. Here’s what happened on a wild Wednesday in Brisbane.
Third seed Nick Kyrgios got his 2018 season underway on Wednesday in front of the home crowd, but it was hardly a smooth start. Kyrgios was three points away from defeat in the second set tiebreak of his second-round clash with countryman Matthew Ebden before rallying to win in three sets and hit the ground running in 2018. Kyrgios did not face a break point in the first two sets but failed to convert any of his four. Ebden would take the opening set and was three points away from victory at 4-4 in the second set tiebreak, but Kyrgios would win three of the next four points to level the match and never looked back.
The Aussie number one, who fired 13 aces and won 85 percent of his first serve points in the match, finally broke through in the third game of the final set, after saving the only two break points he would face in the previous game. Kyrgios added an insurance break in the seventh game on his way to a 6-7(3), 7-6(5), 6-2 win. The third seed will meet Alexandr Dolgopolov in the quarterfinals, who backed up his upset of Diego Schwartzman with a blow out win over another Argentine, Frederico Delbonis, 6-2, 6-1.
Kyrgios escaped his first-round scare, but former world number three and 2016 Brisbane champion Milos Raonic was not so lucky. The Canadian, contesting his first match since early October after a wrist injury derailed his 2017 campaign, was stunned in his first match of the new year by Aussie teen Alex De Minaur. Raonic’s normally overwhelming serve was nowhere near its usual level. The fourth seed only managed nine aces with four double faults and only won 68 percent of his first serve points.
Raonic opened the match with a hold to love but was swiftly broken in the following game. He failed to convert any of his three break points in the set, which he lost. De Minaur had all the answers to Raonic’s serve in this match, reaching break point ten times in the match, including seven in the first four return games of the second set. He would break twice on his way to a 5-2 lead. Serving for the match, the teen finally slipped up and Raonic was able to reclaim one of the breaks. But he could not manage it twice, as De Minaur wrapped up the 6-4, 6-4 upset with a hold to love.
After being the only bye-less seed to survive the first round, Mischa Zverev joined five other seeded players on the sidelines after falling to teenage American qualifier Michael Mmoh in three sets. World number 175 Mmoh came out flying, breaking Zverev twice in a four-game run that wrapped up the opening set. The world number 33 bounced back and broke late to send the match to a deciding set and seemed to be well on his way to victory when he broke early in the third. But from 3-1 down, Mmoh upped his game, breaking twice and reeling off five straight games to reach the first tour-level quarterfinal of his career.
The rest of the quarterfinal field will be filled tomorrow as second-round action is wrapped up, including the 2018 debut of reigning champion Grigor Dimitrov.