Ash Barty’s quest for gold in Tokyo started off impressively as John Millman beat up Italian talent Lorenzo Musetti 6-3 6-4 to advance to the second round of the men’s Olympic tennis event. .
The teenager Musetti had led Novak Djokovic to love two sets in the round of 16 at Roland Garros before finally retiring injured in the fifth set and was supposed to knock down Millman on the hard court at Ariake Tennis Park on Saturday.
But the form line did not take into account the formidable determination of the Brisbane workhorse, especially when he wore the Australian colors in his second appearance at the Games.
He beat Musetti for a 5-3 lead, then served in the first set, before losing his serve twice after getting breaks in the second.
Millman kept his cool to win a tight 3-4 service match before Musetti’s frustrations finally got the better of him in a 96-minute game played in hot and humid conditions.
Millman recorded the Games’ first 6-0 6-0 win to open his account in Rio five years ago, before taking the straight-set lead against eventual bronze medalist Kei Nishikori in the second round.
Established in the top 50 since then, Millman leads the Australian men’s charge following the withdrawal of Nick Kyrgios and Alex de Minaur.
His second-round opponent is fit Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, with world number 1 Djokovic likely a third-round opponent.
Later that day, Barty teamed up with Storm Sanders for a 6-1 6-2 victory over Japan’s Makoto Ninomiya and Nao Hibino, the sixth seed sending a warning shot in their 50-minute procession.
World No. 1 Barty, fresh from her triumph at Wimbledon, begins her singles campaign on Sunday against Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo while Ajla Tomljanovic is also in action.
Samantha Stosur, in her fifth appearance at the Games, an Australian tennis record, was completely beaten 6-4 6-2 by Elena Rybakina.
She will now focus on the doubles alongside Ellen Perez.