Australian veteran takes on Kyrgios
TENNIS: Matt Ebden has set up an all-Australian showdown with Nick Kyrgios at the Brisbane International after starting 2018 in style with a straight-sets win on Pat Rafter Arena.
Ebden, 30, was too good for 19-year-old American Frances Tiafoe on Monday, winning 6-3 6-2 to set up the Kyrgios clash.
He joins another Aussie, Alex De Minaur, in the second round after the wildcard upset American Steve Johnson on New Year's Eve.
Only 12 months ago Ebden was ranked as low as No.699 in the world. His surge back to No.76 saw him make the biggest jump back into the top 100 in 2017.
And he will carry form into his clash with Kyrgios, having claimed 17 of his past 20 matches.
Earlier, American Ryan Harrison ground out a tough 6-4 3-6 6-2 result over Argentine Leonardo Mayer. His reward is a round-two meeting with No.2 seed Andy Murray.
In the women's draw No.3 seed Elina Svitolina defeated Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro in a high-quality first-round tussle.
The Ukrainian prevailed 6-2 6-4 but did not have it all her own way as Navarro matched her higher-ranked opponent from the baseline.
Svitolina had a career-best year in 2017, winning a tour-best five WTA titles to peak at a career-high ranking of No.3.
She admitted that climbing to the top of the women's rankings this year had been on her mind.
"Of course this is the goal, but I don't want to have this pressure,” she said.
"(I just want to) play my best and improve each tournament, each match and be strong mentally. There's lots of things (I want to achieve), not only being No.1.
"There was some tough moments, was struggling with a few injuries, but I think we're on the right path.”
2012 Brisbane women's champion Kaia Kanepi disposed of Daria Kasatkina 6-2 6-2 and will play the winner of Monday night's match between Ashleigh Barty and Lesia Tsurenko.
Meanwhile, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova withdrew from the Brisbane International with a viral illness.
The 27-year-old Czech could not get up to play Estonian Anett Kontaveit and was replaced in the draw by lucky loser Heather Watson.