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2023 Australian Open: Gauff, Pegula cruise in Round 1; Collins, Fritz, Keys, Tiafoe battle on

Victoria Chiesa | January 16, 2023

The first two days of the Australian Open brought success for American men and women alike.


From dominant performances by Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula, to hard-fought victories by Christopher Eubanks, Ben Shelton and Mackenzie McDonald, the red, white and blue had plenty to cheer about over the course of Round 1 at Melbourne Park, though delays as a result of extreme heat and rain on Tuesday forced some Round 1 matches to be pushed to Wednesday. 


Read on for first-round highlights of U.S. players Down Under. 

Gauff, Pegula roll through openers; defending finalist Collins survives; Townsend scores a milestone

The U.S.'s two highest-ranking women couldn't have asked for better starts to the year's first Grand Slam. No. 3 seed Pegula had the distinction of being the first player in the tournament through to Round 2 after a dominant 6-0, 6-1 win over Romania's Jaqueline Cristian in just 57 minutes on Monday, and she was soon followed by No. 7 seed Gauff, who was a 6-1, 6-4 winner over Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic. 


Gauff needed six match points to win, but the 75-minute triumph earned her a measure of revenge for her last defeat of 2022; she lost to Siniakova in November in Glasgow at the Billie Jean King Cup by Gainbridge Finals. The victory sets up a scintillating Round 2 match against 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu of Great Britain. Though there is just a little more than a year between them in age, the two young stars have never played before. 

"I talk to her pretty much at all the tournaments. I didn't really know her that well in juniors, but I got to talk to her more on tour now," Gauff said. "I never practiced with her. I have obviously watched her play, especially during the US Open run, and, yeah, I mean, I think for a really aggressive player she likes to step in on the returns.


"I'm just going to have to be ready and accept some return winners that might come my way. I think for the most part, just continuing to play my game and focus on my end of the court. I think it will be a good matchup for both of us. I'm excited."


Also on Monday, two Americans who had banner 2022 Australian Open runs got off the mark with tough wins. Defending finalist and No. 13 seed Danielle Collins needed more than three hours to defeat Anna Kalinskaya, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4, while No. 10 seed Madison Keys, a 2022 semifinalist, also went the distance in a 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 win over Anna Blinkova that ended near midnight.


On Tuesday, Taylor Townsend and Katie Volynets earned themselves milestone wins. She defeated France's Diane Parry 6-1, 6-1 in a match of two wild cards to reach Round 2—her first Grand Slam singles win in three years, and first as a mom. Meanwhile, 21-year-old Volynets, who qualified, defeated Evgeniya Rodina 6-3, 6-2 for her first-ever main-draw Australian Open win. 


Due to delays caused by both the heat and rain on Day 2, five matches featuring American women were carried over to Wednesday. That included an eventual comeback win for Hobart champion Lauren Davis over Danka Kovinic of Montenegro. She's now won her last eight matches.


American Women at the 2023 Australian Open - Round 1 Results

(3) Jessica Pegula def. Jaqueline Cristian (ROU) - 6-0, 6-1

(7) Coco Gauff def. Katerina Siniakova (CZE) - 6-1, 6-4

(10) Madison Keys def. Anna Blinkova - 6-4, 3-6, 6-2

(13) Danielle Collins def. Anna Kalinskaya - 7-5, 5-7, 6-4

Marta Kostyuk (UKR) def. (28) Amanda Anisimova - 6-3, 6-4

Caty McNally def. (LL) Laura Pigossi (BRA) (replaced (11) Paula Badosa) - 7-5, 6-1

(24) Victoria Azarenka def. Sofia Kenin - 6-4, 7-6(2)

Bernarda Pera def. Moyuka Uchijima (JPN) - 2-6, 6-3, 6-1

(WC) Taylor Townsend def. (WC) Diane Parry (FRA) - 6-1, 6-1

Shelby Rogers def. Arianne Hartono (NED) - 6-4, 6-3

(Q) Katie Volynets def. Evgeniya Rodina - 6-3- 6,2

Anhelina Kalinina (UKR) def. (Q) CoCo Vandeweghe - 6-3, 6-1

Claire Liu def. Madison Brengle - 6-3, 6-4

Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) def. Alison Riske-Amritraj - 5-7, 6-1, 6-4

Lauren Davis def. Danka Kovinic (MNE) - 1-6, 7-5, 6-1

Anastasia Potapova def. Sloane Stephens - 7-6(2), 6-4

Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) def. (LL) Elizabeth Madlik - 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-2


Fritz, Korda, Tiafoe move through in four sets; Eubanks, Shelton score first AO wins; McDonald sets Nadal showdown

The trio of seeded American men each dropped a set in their first-round matches, but moved safely through to Round 2. 


On Monday, No. 16 seed Frances Tiafoe and No. 29 seed and Adelaide finalist Sebastian Korda each won their matches on Monday. After serving for a straight-sets win, Tiafoe saved a set point in the fourth set that would've sent his 6-3, 6-3, 6-7(5), 7-6(6) win over Germany's Daniel Altmaier to a final set, while Korda beat Chile's Nicolas Jarry 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2. A day later, No. 8 seed Taylor Fritz hit a career-best 32 aces in a 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 win over Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili, played under a closed roof in John Cain Arena. 

Having started 2023 by helping the U.S. win the inaugural United Cup, Fritz said the 2 hour, 24-minute win helped wash away some of the sting from an earlier-than-expected exit in his last Grand Slam appearance: a first-round loss to fellow American Brandon Holt at the US Open. 


"... Knowing I went out in the first round of the last Grand Slam, now I know that it's a possibility," he told reporter in his post-match press conference. "It's something that can happen. It would be really bad to let it happen again. Especially when I feel like I've been playing really well, and this tournament is a really good opportunity for me to have a big week.


"It probably added to the pressure of performing today. It's just good to kind of get through this one and now I kind of play myself in the tournament, and I'll feel ten times better going into the next match."

Elsewhere, Christopher Eubanks, Mackenzie McDonald and Ben Shelton all put in the hard yards in five-set victories. On Monday, Eubanks won the first five-setter of his career against South Korea's Kwon Soon-woo, the winner of last week's Adelaide International 2 event, while McDonald rebounded in a final set after failing to convert match points in the fourth against fellow American Brandon Nakashima.


But Shelton's win was the most dramatic of all: In a match extended by a pair two-hour delays for extreme heat, and later rain, Shelton saved a match point before finally beating China's Zhang Zhizhen, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(4), in a tick over three-and-a-half hours.


Fritz and Shelton could be on course for a match in Round 3, in a section of the draw that also features J.J. Wolf and lucky loser Michael Mmoh. In the top quarter of the draw, McDonald will be the Round 2 foe for defending champion and No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal, while Jenson Brooksby will be the Round 2 opponent for No. 2 seed Casper Ruud in the bottom section.  


Due to delays caused by both the heat and rain on Day 2, five matches featuring American men were carried over to Wednesday. That included a five-set comeback for lucky loser Michael Mmoh, who saved match point in a five-set win over France's Laurent Lokoli.


American Men at the 2023 Australian Open - Round 1 Results

(9) Taylor Fritz def. Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) - 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5

(16) Frances Tiafoe def. Daniel Altmaier (GER) - 6-3, 6-3, 6-7(5), 7-6(6)

(29) Sebastian Korda def. Cristian Garin (CHI) - 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2

(7) Daniil Medvedev def. Marcos Giron - 6-0, 6-1, 6-2

Mackenzie McDonald def. Brandon Nakashima - 7-6(5), 7-6(1), 1-6, 6-7(10), 6-4

(WC) Christopher Eubanks def. Kwon Soon-woo (KOR) - 6-3, 6-7(1), 6-3, 4-6, 6-4

Ben Shelton def. Zhang Zhizhen (CHN) - 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(4)

J.J. Wolf def. Jordan Thompson (AUS) - 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5

Tommy Paul def. (Q) Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) - 6-1, 7-6(6), 6-2

Jenson Brooksby def. Christopher O'Connell (AUS) - 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2

Maxime Cressy def. Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) - 7-6(2), 7-5, 3-6, 6-3

Adrian Mannarino (FRA) def. John Isner - 6-7(5), 7-6(8), 6-2, 6-2

(Q) Brandon Holt def. (Q) Aleksandar Vukic - 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3

(LL) Michael Mmoh def. (Q) Laurent Lokoli (FRA) - 4-6, 2-6, 7-6(7), 6-4, 6-2

(LL) Denis Kudla (replaced (19) Nick Kyrgios) def. Roman Safiullin - 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(6), 6-3

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