John Isner became the first top-10 player to fall on the opening day of the Australian Open as he was stunned by world number 97 Reilly Opelka. American Isner, seeded ninth in Melbourne, was beaten 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (8-6) 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5) by compatriot Opelka in just over three hours. The victory was Opelka’s first in the main draw of a Grand Slam.
Earlier, 17-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal beat James Duckworth 6-4 6-3 7-5 to reach the second round. Opelka – who at 6ft 11ins is the joint-tallest player on the ATP Tour – is the first American to beat 6ft 10ins Isner at a Slam. Spanish second seed Nadal, 32, saw off Australian Duckworth in two hours and 16 minutes on Rod Laver Arena, despite a stubborn finish from Duckworth. “He was playing super aggressive, every shot,” said Nadal.
South African fifth seed Kevin Anderson also progressed by beating France’s Adrian Mannarino 6-3 5-7 6-2 6-1. The 32-year-old, who has reached the fourth round at Melbourne Park on three occasions, served 14 aces but made 38 unforced errors as he won his opening match in two hours and 53 minutes.
The Wimbledon runner-up faces American Frances Tiafoe in the next round.