Daniil Medvedev was pushed hard by Francis Tiafoe on Tuesday night, hitting 42 winners to win the enthralling encounter at the Rod Laver Arena 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-2.
“It was a really tough match, a little bit up and down from both of us,” said Medvedev, who lost in last year’s event to the eventual champion, Novak Djokovic.
“I’m really happy to win because the first round is never easy.
“Especially playing Frances, he made the quarters last year, it was a tricky one. A lot of times I thought I won the point already, but he made amazing shots.
“Many points in the match I felt ‘Ok, I’ve got the momentum, I need to prolong it, make a further step’, and straight away he kept coming back.
“I think I could do many things better, but he made me play better. For the first round it’s a big win, so I’m really happy to finally get the win.”