Tiafoe, Stepanek Off To Winning Starts In Melbourne
Qualifying veterans and #NextGenATP stars both started making their way to the main draw of the Australian Open on Wednesday as qualifying matches got underway in Melbourne.
Top seed Radek Stepanek took his opening qualifying match 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-2 against American Sekou Bangoura. Stepanek, 38, is trying to reach his 15th Australian Open singles main draw. The right-handed Czech will face Slovenian Blaz Kavcic next.
Second seed Frances Tiafoe, a member of the ATP World Tour's Next Generation, also advanced in three sets. The 18-year-old American won 75 per cent of his first-serve points to beat Italian Marco Cecchinato 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 in two hours and 14 minutes. Tiafoe is attempting to reach his first Australian Open main draw.
Two other seeded Americans also claimed opening victories on Tuesday. Sixth seed Bjorn Fratangelo beat Slovenian Grega Zemlja 6-4, 7-6(3), and 21st seed Ernesto Escobedo took 74 per cent of his second-serve points to beat German Maximilian Marterer 7-6(5), 7-5.
Slovakian Jozef Kovalik, who upset World No. 6 Marin Cilic last week after qualifying for the Aircel Chennai Open, couldn't keep his good run going. The 24-year-old Kovalik fell 6-3, 6-3 to Argentine Marco Trungelliti.
Go Soeda of Japan, the 29th seed, also moved on in straight sets, beating Belgian Ruben Bemelmans 7-6(10), 6-3.