25-year-old Australian wildcard Aleksandar Vukic has scored his maiden grand slam main draw victory over No. 30 seed Lloyd Harris 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 7-6(3) to advance to the second round of the Australian Open.
“[I’m] over the moon. [I’m] so happy to have won my first grand slam main draw match. To do it on that court especially, I think it was one of the loudest atmospheres I’ve ever seen, to be honest and it was all for me and all for the Aussies and I couldn’t have done it without them. It's a dream, it really is,” Vukic said in his post-match media conference.
The New South Welshman walked out to a raucous crowd on Show Court 3 but took some time to adjust to the conditions on the court as he went a break down early in the first set.
"It took me five or six games in the first set to adjust to the conditions," Vukic said.
Harris, putting his high-quality groundstrokes on display held serve for a 2-0 lead and maintained the lead to eventually claim the opening set 6-4.
Riding the wave of the electric crowd, Vukic came out of his shell and let his world-class forehand and hammer-like serve do the talking, as he got on top of his higher-ranked opponent to take the second set 6-3.
“I couldn’t hear anything. There were so many people in the crowd, it was awesome," Vukic exclaimed.
The University of Illinois alumni, who was on the back foot now had the South African worked out. Vukic, breezing through his service games more comfortably was now getting a look in on Harris’ serve, earning a handful of break point opportunities. Finally, late in the third he took one of those opportunities and served his way to a two-sets-to-one lead.
As the match went on, the spectators got louder and the Aussie was seemingly absorbing as much energy as he could from the boisterous crowd known to rock the stands of Show Court 3. There were no breaks of serve in the fourth set, but Vukic was evidently on top, increasing his aggressive style and dictating play from the baseline.
The South African managed to save a handful of break points, forcing a tiebreaker that belonged to the Aussie. Vukic blazing away to a 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 7-6(3) victory.
“You grow up as a kid watching that court, watching the pros take on that. I never thought it would become a reality.
I was trying to use the crowd as much as possible but also try and remain calm and play tennis and I think I did a pretty good job at that today,” Vukic said.
The win continues Vukic’s impressive summer, coming just a week after he reached his maiden ATP Tour quarter-final in Adelaide and confirming he has what it takes to compete with regular tour level players.
“I feel very comfortable with these guys for sure.
I think it just depends on the matchup and depends on the style. I feel like I do match up well with big hitters because I have a similar style where I rely a lot on my serve. So when there’s someone else that does that I know how to play them, because I know how to play me in a way. I draw on that.
I've always thought the level wasn’t as big of a difference, but these guys more consistently playing at the level, I think I’m hitting that consistency a little bit more,” Vukic explained.
Next up, Vukic will take on Moldovan qualifier Radu Albot, who reached the third round of the Australian Open last year.
The Aussie couldn't contain his excitement to take to the court again: “You just want more of these matches now.”
“I know one of my fellow Aussies Chris O’Connell played him last year in the second round and [Albot] took him out. Knowing that, I’m not taking him lightly at all.
I feel like my lapses of concentration happen a lot less. I feel like I’m giving my opponent a lot less to work with. If my opponent is going to beat me it’s not going to be easy," Vukic said.