Mill­man rides on, Tomic crashes

Mercury (Hobart) - - SPORT -

JOHN Mill­man has picked up his grand slam form where he left it, de­feat­ing world No.80 Fed­erico Del­bo­nis in the first round of the Aus­tralian Open, while fel­low Aussie Bernard Tomic’s re­turn to the com­pe­ti­tion was cut short by a loss to 2018 fi­nal­ist Marin Cilic.

Hav­ing toiled through the first three sets, 29-year-old Mill­man made short work of Del­bo­nis, win­ning the first five games in the fourth set be­fore set­tling with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 tri­umph.

The pop­u­lar Queens­lan­der, who shocked the ten­nis world by beat­ing Roger Fed­erer at the US Open last year, joined a fleet of Aus­tralian win­ners on day one at Mel­bourne Park.

He did it in trade­mark style; on the Mel­bourne Park back­courts. The world No.37. Mill­man struck 11 aces — in­clud­ing three in the crunch tiebreak — and re­turned es­pe­cially well against the 28-year-old.

But he was dis­ap­pointed to drop the sec­ond set and make heavy weather of his re­turn to Mel­bourne Park. “He’s a tricky cus­tomer. Lefty. Big swing­ing serve. So it was al­ways go­ing to be tricky but I made a bit harder job of it than I prob­a­bly should have,” he said. “I got through and I’m happy.”

Mil­li­man will face ei­ther 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut or re­tir­ing great Andy Mur­ray in the sec­ond round.

Tomic, who failed to qual­ify for last year’s event, strug­gled with the big-serv­ing Cilic’s power game, con­ced­ing 24 aces and 56 win­ners as he lost 6-2 6-4 7-6 (7-3). In other men’s ac­tion, big-serv­ing South African Kevin An­der­son sur­vived a mid-match scare yes­ter­day be­fore mov­ing through to the sec­ond round.

An un­back­able favourite, An­der­son found him­self locked at one-set all with French­man Adrian Man­nar­ino be­fore win­ning in four sets, 6-3 5-7 6-2 6-1. Bul­garia’s Grigor Dim­itrov also pro­gressed re­cov­ered from a slow start against Janko Tip­sare­vic to run away with a four-set win.

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