Gadecki lives up to hype with big Open win

An overjoyed Olivia Gadecki was almost lost for words after living up to the hype to be the first home hope to advance to the Australian Open second round.

The emerging star vindicated her wildcard entry with a rousing 7-5 6-1 victory over teenage qualifier Polina Kudermetova on a bittersweet opening day for the locals at Melbourne Park.

Veteran John Millman, the born-again Jason Kubler and excitement machine Rinky Hijikata also progressed but Storm Hunter and Talia Gibson crashed out while, in a mighty blow for organisers, the biggest home hope of all Nick Kyrgios withdrew with a knee injury.

There was no such despair for Gadecki, only pure elation.

Mentored by retired reigning champion Ash Barty, Gadecki was making her much-anticipated grand slam main-draw debut after missing the entire summer last year after declining to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

"She (Barty) sent me a text after my match, which really meant a lot," Gadecki said.

"I'm sure everyone kind of knows she's always been in my corner, and I'm so lucky to have her.

"Whenever I need advice or anything, I'm always able to contact her."

Gadecki's decision to sit out the 2022 Open came after she'd burst onto the international stage with a stunning victory over 2020 champion Sofia Kenin at the 2021 Phillip Island Trophy event at Melbourne Park.

The prodigy backed up that win with a rapid rise up the rankings under esteemed coach David Taylor, Samantha Stosur's long-time former ally and mentor of greats including Martina Hingis and Naomi Osaka.

"It's definitely a relief, but I knew what my decision entailed and I totally respect everyone's opinion and personal choice," Gadecki said of her Melbourne Park breakthrough.

"I'm just grateful to be here."

While fans have had to wait to see Gadecki in action at her home slam, the 20-year-old didn't disappoint after finally making her debut.

She seized the opening set against Kudermetova with the only break of the set, nailing a booming backhand down the line in the 12th game to draw rapturous applause from spectators on Court 8.

The adrenaline surge triggered a run of six straight games won for Gadecki as the young gun powered to her first grand slam triumph in 76 minutes.

"I actually can't believe it. Wow, I'm speechless," Gadecki beamed.

"It's such an amazing crowd, my home slam, my first-ever main-draw grand slam win. I mean, a girl can only dream."

Gadecki crunched seven aces, 19 winners and conceded only nine points on serve.

"It's such a confidence booster making the second round of a slam," she said.

"It's just an amazing achievement, but I definitely believe that I can do more and I'm really looking forward to my next round."

That will be a crack at exciting Ukrainian talent Marta Kostyuk on Wednesday.

Kostyuk, the world No.61, claimed the first seeded scalp of the tournament, eliminating 28th-seeded American Amanda Anisimova 6-3 6-4.

Kubler beat Sebastian Baez 6-4 6-4 6-4 to continue his incredible resurgence, while Millman outlasted Swiss Marc-Andrea Huesler 6-7 (8-10) 7-5 6-7 (2-7) 6-2 6-3.

Hijikata completed a three-from-three day for the Aussie men with a stirring five-set comeback win over German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann.

The 21-year-old rejoiced after wearing down Hanfmann 4-6 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 after in a four-hour, 25-minute thriller.

But Gibson bowed out with a 6-3 6-4 loss to French qualifier Clara Burel and Hunter lost 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 loss to Xinyu Wang.