Bernard Tomic thrilled the Melbourne crowd by hitting back from two sets down to stun 22nd seed Fernando Verdasco on the opening day of the Australian Open.
The Australian number one, who won the warm-up event in Kooyong over the weekend, looked destined to make an early exit when he fell behind in a strangely lethargic opening before upping the aggression levels to advance 4-6 6-7 (7/3) 6-4 6-2 7-5.
Tomic is the highest-ranked teenager at number 38 and he displayed all his promise and plenty of nerve to outlast the experienced Spaniard on Rod Laver Arena.
“I don’t know how I found the energy but the crowd kept me going,” said the Germany-born Queenslander, who has the weight of a nation on his shoulders.
“It is hard to deal with (the expectation) but I learn to deal with it and I try to enjoy it.
“Today wasn’t fun though, it was torture. I really don’t know how I won but I am the happiest person alive right now.”
Eighth seed Mardy Fish made it through in more conventional fashion with a 6-4 6-4 6-2 defeat of Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller.
Fish spent many years in the shadow of countryman Andy Roddick but is now relishing his status as the American number one.
“The goal was always to get into the top 10,” Fish said. “The goal was to do well in tournaments and ranking-wise, it never really occurred to me being number one in our country.
“But it feels good, it’s a nice title and it’s a nice position to be in.”
Juan Martin Del Potro, the 11th seed from Argentina and the last man other than Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer to have claimed a grand slam title - following his triumph at the 2009 US Open – also went through after beating Adrian Mannarino.
The Frenchman started well but Del Potro’s power game finally clicked and he gained the edge to move through 2-6 6-1 7-5 6-4.
Seventh seed Tomas Berdych beat Albert Ramos 7-5 4-6 6-2 6-3, Nicolas Almagro, seeded 10, edged out Lukasz Kubot 1-6 7-5 6-3 7-5, and 18th seed Feliciano Lopez saw off Leonardo Mayer 7-6 (7/5) 6-3 7-6 (7/2).