Traralgon VIC 3844, Australia, 25 October 2016 | David Packman

After a nine-month stint away from Australia, John-Patrick Smith has returned to post a first-up win at the Latrobe City Traralgon ATP Challenger on Tuesday.

The Townsville native – who also spends time during the year in Knoxville, Tennessee – took out Daniel Nolan 6-4 6-2 in a little over an hour.

“I just got back on Saturday so I’m still trying to get over the jetlag. But it was good to get a little win today,” Smith said.

“Playing first on meant the conditions were pretty favourable and I actually really enjoyed getting out here early.

“I always like coming to Traralgon, it’s always good fun. It’s good to be back.”

Smith reached a career high of world No.108 in September last year but since then has seen his ranking slide outside the top 200.

In only his fifth year on tour, the 27-year-old said a few tight losses – such as his round-of-16 match against Swiss journeyman Marco Chuidinelli at the ATP 250 event in Newport – have made a significant difference.

“I lost a couple of three-set matches this year that have been big. If I’d won those it would’ve put me in a better position than I am right now,” he said.

“I’m also still learning the ropes a bit with scheduling and stuff like that, but I feel like I’m getting the hang of it now. Hopefully, I can string some more matches together and make a little push towards the end of the year.”

In other Australian results, top seed Jordan Thompson easily accounted for Steven de Waard while Matthew Barton, Luke Saville and Matthew Ebden also progressed. Qualifier Gavin Van Peperzeel was also a winner over Jarmere Jenkins, taking out the resurgent American 6-2 7-6(3).

In-form eighth seed Marc Polmans was upset by Queenslander Maverick Banes in straight sets.

Second seed Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan was a 6-3 6-3 winner over Thomas Fancutt while Grega Zemlja – the Slovenian fourth seed – was forced to work a little harder in overcoming recent Pro Tour title winner (Cairns) Chris O’Connell 6-2 3-6 6-4. Recent Las Vegas semifinalist and third seed, Argentinian Marco Trungelitti, had too much for qualifier Brandon Walkin.

Nishioka, who was required to qualify in Traralgon after a late decision to enter, cracked the world’s top 100 for the first time this year and, along with Thompson, who has achieved likewise and is looking for consecutive titles after winning an ATP Challenger event in Ho Chi Minh, look like the men best positioned to push deep into the draw this week.

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