By Alana Mitchelson
(January 8, 2014) MELBOURNE PARK – Melbourne provided stunning tennis weather conditions for day one of Australian Open qualifying on Wednesday as 128 men’s qualifiers battled it out to edge nearer towards earning one of just 16 currently unoccupied places granting entry into the Australian Open 2014 main draw.
Major upsets were aplenty at Melbourne Park but the talk of the day was all centred around 21-year-old Bosnian young gun Damir Dzumhur who wasted no time in knocking out the top seed and world No. 98 Dustin Brown. The Jamaican-born German’s chilled style did not react well to his sprightly opponent’s fast-paced game and while the spectators watched in awe of some exciting rallies and beautifully timed shoelace volleys, Dzumhur was able to fairly comfortably stun Brown in straight sets, 6-4 6-2, in barely over an hour.
The unseeded 23-year-old Chinese Ze Zhang sought a similar success story, commendably upsetting Argentine sixth seed Diego Sebastian Schwartzman in three sets, 3-6 7-5 6-4.
It was a fruitful day for the Americans, with almost all of the US players prevailing in their respective matches.
Daniel Kosakowski maintained composure after an aggressive second set served up by Japan’s Tatsuma Ito to at last pull through in the third deciding set 6-3 2-6 6-4. He warmed into each point and found his range before executing deeper, forehand returns which often forced the error off Ito’s racquet.
Americans Austin Krajicek and Rhyne Williams, seeded 13, likewise experienced tough three setters just as Melbourne’s summer heat settled in at peak sun in the afternoon.
Krajicek’s opponent, Malek Jaziri, could not help but smile in acknowledgement of the sheer quality tennis the American displayed throughout the match and this promising form saw Krajicek through to triumph 6-3 4-6 9-7.
Williams, on the other hand, faced a fairly heated match where both he and his unrelenting Canadian opponent, Steven Diez, found themselves in constant dispute with the umpire over close calls. Each allowed their frustration to fuel their own game, releasing that build-up of energy and stress through the ends of their racquets but it was Williams who took control to seize a 7-6 2-6 6-4 win.
Fourth seed Denis Kudla, Rajeev Ram, Wayne Odesnik, Alex Kuznetsov and Bobby Reynolds each secured straight set victories for the USA, while Tennys Sandgren was dealt a more difficult draw and fell to Serbian fifth seed Dusan Lajovic, 7-6 6-3.
Daniel Evans was the only British player to survive the first hurdle of Australian Open qualifying and the Australians also largely struggled to finish on top.
Among the Aussie qualifiers competing was young Luke Saville who began his transition into the professional ranks last year at age 19 after showing much promise on the Junior Circuit, having claimed multiple Junior titles in his early career. It was a long three setter which hinted at flavours of a grueling five set epic that feels as though the end result can tip either way.
An abundance of ‘ooohs’ and ‘ahhhhs’ resonated throughout Showcourt 3 as Saville and his dynamic Chilean opponent Paul Capdeville duelled it out. Quite the crowd had congregated in the outdoor arena and it was quickly noticeable that there were almost more Chileans than Aussies in attendance. As a result of relying too heavily on Capdeville making the error rather than going for more winners, the Chilean slipped ahead of Saville at the very end to clinch the match 6-7 6-0 11-9.
Thursday will see the first round of women’s qualifying get underway. There will be 96 women hitting off at Melbourne Park, with only 16 places in the Australian Open 2014 main draw up for grabs.
Alana Mitchelson is a Melbourne-based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her tournament updates on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN and read her personal website http://alanamitchelson.wordpress.com