© Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Nikola Mektic (back) and Mate Pavic save three match points in their Australian Open first round.

Mektic & Pavic Save 3 Match Points In AO Opener

Croatians next face Aussies Kokkinakis and Kyrgios

Croatia’s Australian Open doubles top seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic have set a tantalising second-round encounter with Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis, but not before saving three match points in a nail-biting second-set tie-break against Facundo Bagnis and Federico Delbonis.

The 2021 Wimbledon champions converted just two of 18 break points as they faced an early exit, before rallying to defeat the Argentines 4-6, 7-6(8), 6-4.

John Peers, the World No. 12 and highest-ranked Australian in the draw, saw off compatriots Luke Saville and John-Patrick Smith 6-3, 7-5 with his partner, Slovakian Filip Polasek. Peers won his only Grand Slam title in Melbourne in 2017 (w/Henri Kontinen) and will hope to repeat the success this year with Polasek after the pairing showed good form in taking the ATP 250 Sydney Tennis Classic title last week (d. Bolelli/Fognini).

Seventh seeds Nicolas Mahut and Fabrice Martin fell to Kazakh Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Pakistani Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi 7-6(1), 5-7, 6-2. Mahut won the 2019 Australian Open (w/ Pierre-Hugues Herbert) and enjoyed a first title with Martin at the ATP 250 event in Antwerp in October, but the French pairing made only 50 per cent of first serves as they fell at the first hurdle in Melbourne.

Ninth-seeded Croatian-Brazilian pairing Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo had no such problems, winning 83 per cent of points on first serve as they edged France’s Adrian Mannarino and Monaco’s Hugo Nys 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.

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