Andrey Rublev has kicked off the new season in Doha where he scored one win before losing to Nikoloz Basilashvili in straight sets, traveling to Sydney after that to qualify for the main draw and overpower the 6th seed Lucas Pouille 6-2, 6-3 in just 66 minutes to make the winning start.
Andrey won their previous match in Rotterdam last year and he was even more dominant today, dropping just eight points in eight service games for one of his best wins since the comeback from the back injury last summer. Staying away from break points, the struggling Frenchman served at only 51% and he lost half of the points in his games, facing nine break points and suffering four breaks to trail from start to finish.
Thundering with his serve and groundstrokes from the baseline, the Russian claimed the opening set in less than 30 minutes, sailing through his games and scoring breaks in games one and three for a commanding 6-2 following a hold at love in the eighth game.
Pouille never found his rhythm and he gave his serve away in games one and nine to hit the exit door, hoping for a much better performance in Melbourne next week. The 7th seed Marton Fucsovics took down James Duckworth 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 40 minutes, winning just one point more than the Sydney native but creating more chances on the return and emerging as a deserved winner.
The Hungarian dropped serve on both break points he faced but he erased that deficit with a solid performance on the return, earning nine break chances and converting three to cross the finish line first. James dictated the pace in the opener, staying away from troubles in his games and breaking Martin in the fourth game to open up the lead that he carried throughout the set for a 6-3.
The second set offered eight easy holds and one loose service game from the home favorite who had to give the serve away after seven break points he gave to Fucsovics in the fourth game. Marton lost just six points in five service games to maintain the lead and set up a decider with a hold at 15 in game nine.
They traded breaks in games three and six in set number three and it was Marton who recorded the crucial break at 3-3, bringing the match home after two good holds to book the second round clash with another Aussie John Millman.
The Brisbane native stayed on the court for almost three hours before he notched a 4-6, 7-6, 7-5 triumph against Frances Tiafoe in two hours and 39 minutes, overpowering the young American just like in Atlanta two years ago when they played the deciding tie break.
Both players had a lot of free points from the serve and identical percentages behind the first serve, with four breaks on each side for a full drama from start to finish. The match kicked off with back-to-back breaks and it was Frances who grabbed another one with a deep return in game five.
He served well in the rest of the set, closing it with an amazing winner in the 10th game for a 6-4. The servers were at the top of their games in set number two, with no break chances up for grabs and with a tight tie break that Millman won 7-5 with three winners in the last four points.
Tiafoe stayed focused, opening a 3-0 lead in the deciding set before they traded three straight breaks in the middle of the set to stay locked up at 5-5. A backhand down the line winner secured the pivotal break for John at 5-5 and he sealed the deal with a hold in the following game to reach the last 16.
Jordan Thompson will play in the first ATP quarter-final since Brisbane in 2017 thanks to a 3-6, 7-6, 6-0 triumph over Taro Daniel in two hours and 26 minutes. The Japanese led 6-2, 4-2 before Jordan started to climb back, breaking back in game seven and winning the tie break 7-5 to gain a huge boost before the decider.
There, he was the only player on the court, winning 25 out of 33 points to win all the games and march towards the last eight in style. Tuesday's results:
Andreas Seppi (ITA) vs Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 7-5 2-6 6-4
[Q]Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) vs Denis Kudla (USA) 7-5 6-4
[Q]Andrey Rublev (RUS) vs Lucas Pouille (FRA) 6-2 6-3
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) vs [WC]James Duckworth (AUS) 3-6 6-3 6-4
John Millman (AUS) vs Frances Tiafoe (USA) 4-6 7-6(5) 7-5
Second round result:
[WC]Jordan Thompson (AUS) vs [LL]Taro Daniel (JPN) 3-6 7-6(5) 6-0