JTCC alumni Frances Tiafoe and Denis Kudla both scored first round wins at the Australian Open for the second time in their careers with victories over Indian Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Australian Marc Poolmans, respectively, in Melbourne on Monday.
Tiafoe came through 7-6(7), 6-3, 6-3 in straight sets against Gunnerswaran in under two hours capitalizing on his opportunities by converting five of eight break points and closing out rallies winning 88% of the points (14 of 16) when he rushed the net.
World #39 Tiafoe now faces #5 seed Kevin Anderson, who is high on Tiafoe’s New Year’s “To Beat” list because Anderson has won their three previous confrontations. In two of those matches, however, Tiafoe extended Anderson to three sets.
Kudla showed great determination to beat hometown hopeful Poolmans 5-7, 1-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 in just over three hours. This five set match marked the first time Kudla has come back from a two-set deficit. The 26-year-old defended his serve heroically saving 14 of the 17 break points he faced. The world #62 also showed excellent aggression throughout by striking 63 winners.
Kudla now has a second round clash with #18 seed Diego Schwartzman from Argentina. The two have never played before. Kudla will be seeking to advance to the third round for the first time at the Australian Open having come incredibly close 12 months ago in a five-set round two epic against then world #5 Dominic Thiem.
“It is wonderful to see Frances and Denis winning on the same day at a Grand Slam,” said Vesa Ponkka, JTCC Senior Director of Tennis. “They both worked extremely hard during their time at JTCC during the off season, and their training is paying dividends already. We will be following their matches on Wednesday with great anticipation.”