25 year old Sydneysider Aleksandar Vukic has claimed his maiden Masters 1000 main draw victory at Indian Wells, defeating Spanish veteran Pablo Andujar 7-5, 6-4 in the first round.
Vukic qualified for his maiden masters main draw at Indian Wells with back to back straight set victories over American's Ulises Blanch and Bjorn Fratangelo respectively. And now, the Aussie is set to take on fellow Aussie Alex de Minaur, after his breakthrough win over Andujar.
To put it simply, Vukic was brilliant in defeating Andujar. He served five aces and won 79% of points on his first serve, also converting on 4/7 break point opportunities.
The 25 year old currently sits at 190 in the live rankings, just seven spots shy of his career high 183 which he reached last year. 2021 hasn't been the most outstanding season for Vukic, and being ruled out of the US Open after testing positive for covid was certainly not part of the plan, but it's been a year where we have seen him consolidate on his 2020 breakout year.
As he proved against Karen Khachanov at this years Australian Open, and Denis Shapovalov in Queens, he can mix it with the best, and I give him every chance against De Minaur in the second round.
Also on the winners list on Friday in Palm Springs was John Millman.
The Aussie, who's ranking has taken a major hit in recent weeks came from a break down in the deciding set, reeling off five consecutive games to defeat American wildcard Jack Sock 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.
After winning the first set, Millman struggled to tame Sock, who was serving well and striking his forehand beautifully. And the Aussie looked all but gone as he trailed Sock 1-3 in the decider, and faced break points to go a double break down, but he dug deep as he always does, and managed to flip the momentum back on his terms.
In very un-John Millman like form, the Aussie was then involved in a verbal stoush with Sock at the net following the match.
It's unclear what exactly was said after the shake of hands, but the Queenslander was not happy, and followed the American to his chair to engage in conversation.
"I didn't look at you, I smiled at you," Sock said.
"But yeah, it's my fault", Millman responded.
It's unlike Millman to be involved in this type of a confrontation, known as one of the nicest guys on the tour, but I doubt he'll be too phased over the incident as he looks ahead to a second round meeting with 10th seed Jannik Sinner.
Australian Jordan Thompson was unable to join Vukic and Millman in the second round, as he went down to South African Kevin Anderson 5-7, 2-6.
Anderson was unstoppable on serve, whipping down 10 aces and winning 91% of first serve points to swiftly defeat Thompson.
Zooming out and taking the Aussie lens off, by far the biggest result of the day came on Stadium 1, where US Open champion Emma Raducanu was defeated in straight sets by Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich 2-6, 4-6.
Raducanu showed glimpses of the brilliance which saw her claim her remarkable crown at Flushing Meadows, but overall was inconsistent, and unable to take her opportunities, falling to the Belarusian, who’s ranked at 100 in the world.
On the winners list - Leylah Fernandez, who Raducanu defeated in the US Open final. The 23rd seed booked her place in the third round with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Alize Cornet.
On Stadium 1, Andy Murray claimed a 6-3, 6-2 win over Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, in what was an impressive showing by 2009 finalist.
He will now take on 30th seed Carlos Alcaraz in a blockbuster second round match.
Friday was a very successful day for the American's, with Jenson Brooksby, Brandon Nakashima and qualifiers Ernesto Escobedo, Christopher Eubanks all booking their place in the second round.
On the women's side, Shelby Rogers and Jessica Pegula also flew the flag for the American's, moving into the third round.
Top 10 seeds Petra Kvitova, Iga Świątek, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Elina Svitolina all won, and are through to the third round.
On the doubles court, Aussie Alex de Minaur and American Reilly Opelka went down to Russian pair Andrey Rublev and Aslan Karatsev 4-6, 4-6.
Aussie Luke Saville also went down with Cam Norrie to No. 2 seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury 6-4, 3-6, 8-10 in a thrilling encounter.
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