Why Thiem's and Raonic's first round wins are important to the Australian Open
Fans who think Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have tough draws at the 2019 Australian Open can now breathe a sigh of relief. The strong opponents for Novak Djokovic in his draw -Dominic Thiem, Milos Raonic and Stan Wawrinka - have passed their first round tests at the Open.
It took more than three and a half hours for Thiem to win his first round match against an unseeded Benoit Paire. Thiem thanked his fans for staying late - well beyond midnight - for the match. Had Thiem lost, the draw for Djokovic would have become even easier.
Not taking anything away from Paire, but Thiem plays equally well against every player unlike the Frenchman, who raises his game only when tougher opponents play against him. If Paire were to win the match today against Thiem, he likely wouldn't have gone as far into the tournament as Thiem can in the coming days.
Another exciting result in the same section of the draw was the win of Canadian Milos Raonic over Nick Kyrgios. Although the Australian fans would have been disappointed to see their home boy (Kyrgios) go down in straight sets, the progress of Raonic will definitely spice up the Australian Open.
Kyrgios himself admitted in the post match conference that he hadn't seen Raonic serving that good in any of their previous encounters. If Raonic continues to maintain his rhythm, it won't be a surprise if he upsets some of the favorites in the second week of the tournament.
It will be a refreshing change for the men's draw at Australian Open if new winners emerge this time, heralding the rise of the next-gen players.
The first round for the men at the Australian Open did see a few upsets as one of the top 10 seeds John Isner bowed out, along with 17th seed Marco Cecchinato, 13th seed Kyle Edmund and Sir Andy Murray, who might have just played his last Australian Open. It will be interesting to see if there are going to be any further upsets when the second round begins tomorrow.