AO 2024 – Day 3: Melbourne embracing youth

Established names are having to work even harder with young guns firing on all cylinders Down Under.

Arthur Fils / 1er tour Open d'Australie 2024©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

The Australian Open 2024 first round concluded on a talent-rich Tuesday.

Usual suspects continue to pull off mesmerising results, however there is a real blend of youth in the storylines popping up.

Take Mirra Andreeva, Alina Korneeva and Brenda Fruhvirtova. They are the first trio of 16-year-old sensations to reach the second round at Melbourne Park since 2005. Let's take a look at more rising star success…

Swiatek and Alcaraz the role models

Of course, Iga Swiatek and Carlos Alcaraz are not new on the scene. They are multiple major champions, seeking their maiden Australian Open trophy lift.

At 22 and 20-years-old respectively, they provide the blueprint for the present and future of the tennis landscape.

30 winners propelled world No.1 Swiatek to a 7-6(2), 6-2 opener facing 2020 champion Sofia Kenin on Rod Laver Arena.

“I'm really happy,” said the top seed, following their re-match of the Roland-Garros 2020 final. “It wasn’t easy at the beginning to find my rhythm, and I felt a little bit off. Huge respect to her, she won this tournament so she knows what to do."

In a particularly stacked section of the draw, the four-time major winner advances to take on Danielle Collins. The fiery American eliminated 2016 Angelique Kerber in three sets.

“Danielle is a really good player, we’ve played really tight matches,” said Swiatek, holding a 5-1 record over Collins, which also includes the Australian Open 2022 semi-final triumph for Collins.

“Every match is different, I'm not going to anticipate anything. I'm just going to be ready and we'll see.”

As for Alcaraz, the world No.2 compiled three exquisite points to steal away a hot-shot laden opening set, to then stamp his authority on a 7-6(5), 6-1, 6-2 victory facing French veteran Richard Gasquet.

The Wimbledon champion was injured last January, but returned to Melbourne with some spell-binding shotmaking. During his on-court interview with John McEnroe, the Spaniard revealed he always hopes to combine winning and entertainment with "impossible" strikes. Alcaraz and his peers know how to put on a show.

Hear more from the Spaniard in the video below, who takes on world No.46 Lorenzo Sonego next up.

Out to make a name for themselves

At every turn on Tuesday an up and coming prodigy was impressing between the confines of a tennis court. 

Frenchman Arthur Fils continues to look ever so comfortable on the main stage. The 19-year-old made his Australian Open debut with a 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 scoreline to fend off the experienced Czech Jiri Vesely.

Fils' compatriot Clara Burel burst past Aleksandra Krunic 6-4, 6-1 and there was further French success as Arthur Cazaux justified his wild card in a 6-2, 6-7(3), 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 seesaw with world No.33 Laslo Djere.

With a first career Grand Slam win under his belt, Cazaux will be able to swing freely in the second round over the net from Top 10 talent Holger Rune. The No.8 seed found the answers 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-4 versus Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka.

Over to the British contingent and US Open 2021 champion Emma Raducanu erased last season's injury-maligned campaign to topple Shelby Rogers 6-3, 6-2.

Fellow Brit Jack Draper, finalist in Adelaide last week, defied scorching heat to score his first ever five-set victory in an arm wrestle with Marcos Giron.

The youngsters serving up head-turning tennis continued in the Chinese ranks too. No.12 seed Zheng Qinwen overcame Ashlyn Krueger 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, whilst wild card Shang Juncheng transferred his electric form from a Hong Kong semi-final to navigate past world No.42 Mackenzie McDonald in five compelling sets.

'NextGen' duo Jiri Lehecka and Alex Michelsen will meet in the second round, whilst 2019 girls' winner Clara Tauson booked an intriguing bout with two-time champion Victoria Azarenka.

Overcoming higher ranked opponents, overcoming adversity, heat, experience, the young guns continue to disrupt the established order.

Surprise of the day - Bublik bounced in three

An "emotional" Sumit Nagal carved out his own career milestone on Tuesday, reaching the second round of a major for just the second time.

The qualifier downed the unpredictable No.27 seed Alexander Bublik 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(5) to become the first Indian male - since Ramesh Krishnan 35 years ago - to beat a seeded player at a Grand Slam.

"I would say I didn't have too much pressure," said the elated world No.139. "He's the seed. I'm the underdog. Just qualified playing my second Australian Open in main draw. I'm very proud of myself."

Shot of the day: Valkusz

Hungarian qualifier Mate Valkusz might have fallen in four sets to singles and doubles expert juggler Max Purcell, but he did conjure up some magic along the way.

The world No.214 displayed his natural ability with a 'no look' winner.

Check it out in the video below.