THREE AMERICANS ADVANCE
ON AUSSIE OPEN DAY 1
Ashley Marshall | January 15, 2018
A trio of Americans advanced to the second round of the Australian Open on Day 1 in Melbourne, but probably not the three you would have imagined.
Ryan Harrison, Mackenzie McDonald and Nicole Gibbs each picked up victories on a day that saw all five American seeds, and a dozen U.S. players in total, fall.
Harrison needed three hours, 46 minutes to see off Israel's Dudi Sela, 6-3, 5-7, 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, and McDonald defeated Elias Ymer, 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1, in his Australian Open main-draw debut in a battle of qualifiers.
The lone women's winner on the American side was Gibbs, who dropped just two games against Bulgarian 22-year-old Viktoriya Tomova.
But it was an otherwise disappointing day for Team USA, which saw fifth seed and 2017 finalist Venus Williams, reigning US Open champion Sloane Stephens, world No. ADVERTISEMENT 10 Coco Vandeweghe, eighth-seeded Jack Sock and No. 16 seed John Isner all eliminated Monday.
Harrison (pictured above) was the first U.S. player to advance on Day 1, hitting 15 aces and 64 winners in a back-and-forth battle that featured 16 combined breaks of serve.
Leading 5-4 in the fourth set, Sela served for the match, but the American broke him twice in a row and reeled off the last three games to send the match to a deciding set. An early break helped Harrison to a 3-0 lead, and he sealed the victory on his third match point.
The 25-year-old is playing in the main draw of the Australian Open for the eighth time in his career. He has made the second round twice before, in 2013 and 2017, and will now look to make the Round of 32 for the second time at a Grand Slam when he takes on No. 31 seed Pablos Cuevas on Wednesday.
Also advancing was former NCAA Division I Men's Singles champion McDonald, who dropped just one set last week in three qualifying matches to secure his spot in the main draw for the first time.
In a battle of youngsters searching for their first Grand Slam win, it was the American who came out on top, winning 77 percent of points on his first serve and converting five of seven break points. McDonald's reward is a second-round encounter with No. 3 seed Grigor Dimitrov.
In the women's draw, world No. 113 Gibbs reached the second round of the Australian Open for the fourth straight year. She hit 13 winners to Tomova's four, and she broke seven times in 11 tries to advance to the second round in just 48 minutes.
Gibbs, whose run to the third round in Melbourne 12 months ago matched her career-best finish at a major, will play No. 30 seed Kiki Bertens for a place in the third round after the Dutch rallied to beat rising American CiCi Bellis.