Alex de Minaur has downed world No.45 Dusan Lajovic of Serbia in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, to get his Sydney International campaign off to a flying start on Monday night.
It was a berth in the final of this tournament last year against that triggered the Sydney teenager's meteoric rise up the rankings from outside 200 to end the year at world No.31.
"This is where I made my first final and where I really started to gain momentum," de Minaur said.
"I grew up on this court. I've got so many good memories on this court."
The match was delayed for hours by rain – a sharply unusual turn for a tournament where players have battled through 40-degree heat in the past.
"It was definitely heavy and quite humid. Very unlike Sydney, unlike last year. It took a bit of getting used to, but I am happy I got that match under my belt and now I can look forward to tomorrow," de Minaur said.
When play finally began, de Minaur looked well-rested, which he attributed to spending time away from the court.
"I think that's the thing that gets you … you spend 10 hours at the court waiting for the rain delays," he said.
"Got to just be smart and try to limit my time here and just relax. No need to get anxious or anything.
"I mean, if the time comes for me to get on court, I'm going to be ready and don't want to be wasting energy."
De Minaur said he especially appreciated fans who stayed through the rain.
It was another display of sterling form from the Australian after he lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in two tight sets in the quarter-finals of the Brisbane International last week.
De Minaur's entrance to Sydney was similarly tight, despite the final scoreline.
He and Lajovic tracked each other game for game in the first set.
The Australian teenager and Serbian star went 2-2, then 3-3 and 4-4.
But de Minaur took the first set 6-4 after capitalising on the one break point he needed.
With both players winning about three quarters of their first-serve points, de Minaur's consistency on the second serve gave him the edge. He won 12 of 24 points to Lajovic's seven of 21.
After the close first set, de Minaur broke away in the second, closing out the match 6-3.
He will now meet American qualifier Reilly Opelka in the second round on Tuesday.
Nick is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.