Boys’ No.1 seed Nikola Milojevic overcame a major scare on Monday to progress to the third round of this year's Australian Open junior championships.
Milojevic, the 17-year-old Serb who is under the wing of fellow countrymen Novak Djokovic and Janko Tipsarevic, played 14-year-old Australian Oliver Anderson and prevailed in three sets, 6-2 1-6 8-6.
The match was tipped to be a blowout for Milojevic, who until recently occupied the No.1 ITF ranking spot before being topped by Australian Nick Kyrgios on Sunday – but the tournament favourite was made to fight for his victory.
With his sleek white backwards cap complementing his lime green t-shirt, Milojevic looked the part in the opening set. He used his fluid and natural backswing to produce punishing groundstrokes from the centre of the court, which proved far too much for his opponent to handle.
But the momentum quickly diminished for the favoured Serb, who began to spray shots well beyond the baseline. A flurry of crucial foot-faults helped Anderson take the second set 6-1.
The local wildcard found himself serving for the match at 6-5 in the third and appeared primed for a major upset, but Milojevic held his nerve, breaking his opponent and eventually taking the third 8-6.
Milojevic will take on Austria’s Lucas Miedler in the third round, who easily disposed of last year’s semifinalist Mackenzie McDonald (USA) 6-4 6-2.
It was a relatively straightforward day for the other top seeds, who each won in straight sets. Eighth-seed Filippo Baldi defeated Germany’s Hannes Wagner 7-5 6-2 while sixth seed Hyeon Chung made light work of Pak Long Yeung 6-1 6-4. Ninth seed Christian Garin and 11th-seeded Croat Borna Coric also registered comprehensive victories – Coric getting the job done in only 54 minutes in losing just two games to Australian Marc Polmans.
It wasn’t all such smooth sailing for the girls, however, in a day that featured both upsets and down-to-the-wire finishes.
Fourth-seeded German Antonia Lottner was pushed by Australian wildcard Sara Tomic, but held sway to advance with a 6-1 2-6 6-3 victory.
Lottner, runner-up at Traralgon last week, was broken deep into the deciding set as another major upset looked to be on the cards. But the 16-year-old stayed strong, holding serve to take out the match after one hour and 36 minutes.
Sixth seed Carol Zhao was not so lucky, however, going down to unseeded Frenchwoman Fiona Ferro 6-3 6-1 in only 80 minutes. It was the Canadian’s serve that ultimately proved to be her undoing – Zhao was broken seven times and won only 45 per cent of first serve points.
Third seed Ana Konjuh continued her blistering run of 13 straight wins after disposing of Japan’s Mami Adachi 7-6(5) 6-2 to advance to the third round. Konjuh, favoured by many to win the tournament, won six singles titles in 2012 including the Orange Bowl in early December, where she took out last year’s Australian Open girls’ champion Taylor Townsend.
In other results, seventh seed Anna Danilina defeated America’s Jamie Loeb 6-3 5-7 6-1, while 10th seed Estonian Anett Kontaveit overcame an early struggle to get past Natalia Vajdova of Slovakia 7-6(6) 6-0.