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Kevin Anderson hits 47 winners en route to a four-set victory against Adrian Mannarino on Monday.

Anderson Erases 2018 Melbourne Memories In Opener

Last year's finalist Cilic beats Tomic

Fifth seed Kevin Anderson got his Australian Open off to a strong start, overcoming tricky Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 on Monday.

Anderson carried plenty of momentum into the year’s first Grand Slam. The No. 6 player in the ATP Rankings captured his sixth ATP Tour title at the Tata Open Maharashtra and is fresh off his first appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals in London.

One year ago, Anderson was unable to hold a break lead in the fifth set of his first-round match in Melbourne against eventual semi-finalist Kyle Edmund. But Anderson maintained his focus against Mannarino, hitting 47 winners en route to a two-hour, 53-minute victory.

About an hour into play, it appeared Anderson would move through without difficulty, taking a set-and-a-break lead. But suddenly, Mannarino found his way into more of Anderson’s service games, and the left-hander broke twice in the second set to even the match at a set apiece, with his flat strokes throwing his opponent’s rhythm off for a short time.

But Anderson immediately regrouped, dropping just three games the rest of the way. He has now won eight of his past nine sets against Mannarino, and leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 5-1. Mannarino found it difficult to assert himself in points against the baseline-hugging Anderson, making 18 unforced errors in the final two sets.

Anderson

Anderson will next face 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier Frances Tiafoe, who beat Indian qualifier Prajnesh Gunneswaran 7-6(7), 6-3, 6-3. Anderson and Tiafoe clashed three times last season. But while the fifth seed won on all three occasions, Tiafoe pushed him to three sets on two of them. 

It was Tiafoe's second-ever win at the Australian Open, hitting 29 winners to advance after one hour and 52 minutes. The American claimed his maiden ATP Tour title 11 months ago at the Delray Beach Open.

Sixth seed and last year’s finalist Marin Cilic struck 56 winners, including 24 aces, in a night victory over Bernard Tomic of Australia 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(3) in two hours and three minutes. Tomic recovered from a 2-5 deficit in a tense third set, nine years on from their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting at Melbourne Park. Cilic will next challenge Mackenzie McDonald, who knocked out Andrey Rublev 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in two hours and 30 minutes.

Did You Know?
Anderson went two-and-a-half years between his third tour-level title at 2015 Winston-Salem and his fourth trophy at last year's New York Open. But Anderson has already triumphed twice since that victory in New York, coming out on top in Vienna last year and Pune in the first week of this season.

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