THERE was a mixed bag of results for the Jewish players in this year’s first round of the 2018 Australian Open at Melbourne Park this week.
Young gun Denis Shapovalov made quick work of his Greek opponent Stefanos Tsitsipas, winning in straight sets 6-1, 6-3, 7-6.
After an impressive 2017, Shapovalov said after the game he felt like he was in great shape heading into the second round of his first-ever Australian Open.
“I think I have been playing well the whole time in Australia, I feel like I’m on top of my game,” he said.
“My body feels good, I feel fresh, I was ready to get back and play.”
The teenager has been touted as part of the group of the next generation to take over from tennis’ top four players, and the Canadian didn’t shy away from the prospect.
“The main goal I have set right now is to win an ATP title, obviously it’s very tough, but if I set my mind to it and work hard, I think this year it’s possible to lift up a title.”
Shapovalov was due to face powerhouse Jo-Wilfred Tsonga when The AJN went to press.
Elsewhere at Melbourne Park, Argentinian Diego Schwartzman qualified for the second round after an epic first round clash with Serbian Dusan Lajovic.
The Jewish player won the match 2-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 11-9 in a thrilling three hour and 59 minute marathon.
Schwartzman said after the match he knew he would “need to improve a lot of things inside the court to beat my next opponent”.
The 24th seed faced Norwegian 19-year-old Casper Ruud when the paper went to press.
Over on court 22, hundreds of supporters, clad in blue and white and dubbed “Dudi’s Army”, couldn’t help Israeli Dudi Sela over the line, losing to American Ryan Harrison in five sets 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 2-6.
Sela came back from one set down to lead two sets to one and 5-4 in the fourth, but couldn’t complete the match, broken by Harrison and losing the set and later, the match.
There were several heated exchanges throughout the contest, but Harrison said after the game it looked worse than it was.
“He said something to me after I asked the chair umpire if the ball had hit him…he took exception to that and I thought it was not cool he had said something to me for just asking chair, so that’s what started the heated exchange,” Harrison said post-match.
“The next game I broke him, and I got very fired up and he took exception again for how excited and fired up I had gotten with which I responded “you have a whole army out here, you can’t get mad at me for myself and the three other people in the crowd who were supporting me.”
After an incredible effort to make it through the qualification process, Canadian Peter Polansky had his Australian Open come to an end after his first round match against Russian Karen Khachanov.
The 29-year-old went down 6-7(3-7), 6-7(2-7), 4-6 exiting the tournament in straight sets.
Over in the women’s section, Camila Giorgi breezed through her first round clash against Russian Anna Kalinskaya 6-4, 6-3 and is set to play Australian Ash Barty tonight (Thursday).
Elsewhere, American Madison Brengle was no match for the ninth seeded Johanna Konta, going down 3-6, 1-6 at Hisense Arena.
The doubles tournament began yesterday (Wednesday) with Israeli Jonathan Erlich teaming up with Canadian Daniel Nestor and Dudi Sela teaming with Italian Thomas Fabbiano.
Local Adam Kellerman’s wheelchair championship begins later this month on January 24.
DANIEL SHANDLER AT MELBOURNE PARK