This Section In Australia Is Open
After the first day of play at the 2018 Australian Open five of the 16 seeds who competed are out. But what was shocking was that four of those five seeds — No. 8 Jack Sock, No. 11 Kevin Anderson, No. 18 Lucas Pouille and No. 27 Philipp Kohlschreiber — were all in the same section of the draw, leaving eight players who are 41st or lower in the ATP Rankings to battle for a spot in the quarter-finals at the first Grand Slam championship of the year.
Since Grand Slams went from 16 to 32 seeds at 2001 Wimbledon, this is the first time that four seeds from the same eighth of a major draw fell in the opening round.
Only one of the eight players remaining has previously advanced to a major quarter-final — World No. 89 Ivo Karlovic (2009 Wimbledon), who extended his record as the oldest man to win a Grand Slam match since Jimmy Connors was 40 at the 1992 US Open by defeating Laslo Djere in straight sets. The Croatian veteran is just more than a month shy of his 39th birthday.
And while Karlovic is the only competitor who has reached the final eight of a major, the seven other players in the section are not short on experience. World No. 60 Denis Istomin and World No. 76 Andreas Seppi, who have competed in 36 and 49 straight Grand Slams, respectively, both advanced to the fourth round at Melbourne Park last year.
Istomin, who was No. 117 in the ATP Rankings at the time, shocked the world when he ousted second seed and six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic in the second round in a five-set thriller. The Uzbek would defeat 2017 Nitto ATP Finals competitor Pablo Carreno Busta before exiting after a loss against eventual semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov in four sets.
Seppi on the other hand disappointed the home crowd by coming back from two sets down to defeat the No. 14 seed Nick Kyrgios in five sets en route to the fourth round, where he lost three tie-breaks against fourth seed Stan Wawrinka. That was not the first time the Italian has caused an upset at the Australian Open – Seppi also beat Marin Cilic in 2013 and Roger Federer in 2015.
Elsewhere in the section, Kyle Edmund (No. 49), Nikoloz Basilashvili (No. 61) and Ruben Bemelmans (No. 117) have all advanced to the third round of at least one Slam, while the top player in the ATP Rankings who can advance to the quarter-finals, Yuichi Sugita (No. 41) and Yoshihito Nishioka (No. 168), who tore his left ACL at last year’s Miami Open presented by Itau, both have made the second round twice.
The seeds in this section may be out, but the fun has just begun.