It did not take long for the thrills to begin in the 2018 ATP World Tour season.
Australian #NextGenATP contender Alex de Minaur put on a show for his home crowd on the final day of 2017, earning the best win of his young career by ranking, defeating World No. 44 Steve Johnson 7-6(7), 6-4 at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp on Sunday.
The 18-year-old wild card saved five set points — two while serving at 5-6 and three more in the ensuing tie-break — in the opening set before riding the momentum to his third ATP World Tour victory.
“It was the best way to finish off the year. I couldn't ask for more. I beat a high-quality opponent and I'm stoked,” said de Minaur, who is No. 208 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. “I think I showed how I can play today and it's all about maintaining that level. So next up I've got a very quality opponent, so I'm going to look forward to battling with him and see what I can do there.”
Despite falling behind a break, 3-4, in the second set, de Minaur bounced back to break the 28-year-old American twice in a row to close out the match. He will face fourth-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic in the second round.
But the home favourite’s triumph was not the only interesting result on the first day of the 2018 campaign. Alexandr Dolgopolov upset sixth-seeded Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 7-6(3).
The Ukrainian avenged a 2016 loss (Buenos Aires) against the Argentine, winning the first main draw ATP World Tour match of the new season.
Dolgopolov did not face a break point in the opening set and looked in control when he broke and held for a 3-0 lead in the second set. Despite faltering at the finish line — he failed to serve out the battle at 5-3 — Dolgopolov recovered to advance to a second-round encounter against the winner of Horacio Zeballos and qualifier Ernesto Escobedo in one hour, 34 minutes.
Nitto ATP Finals champions Henri Kontinen and John Peers kicked off the new doubles campaign with a 7-6(3), 6-4 triumph over Canadians Raonic and Denis Shapovalov in 73 minutes, saving all six break points they faced.