Indian Wells, USA, 8 October 2021 | Leigh Rogers

Alexei Popyrin has made a winning start at Indian Wells, defeating Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic in the opening round.

The 21-year-old Australian scored a 6-3 7-6(4) victory against the world No.63.

World No.71-ranked Popyrin fired five aces and made the most of his chances in the 88-minute battle, converting both break points he earned against the 22-year-old Kecmanovic.

Eighth seed Hubert Hurkacz awaits in the second round. It will be Popyrin’s first career meeting with the world No.12.

Unfortunately, James Duckworth’s tournament is over.

The 29-year-old Australian entered the tournament with brimming confidence, having won 15 of his past 20 matches. But American Mackenzie McDonald recorded a 6-3 6-3 victory in their first-round clash.

Anastasia Rodionova and Arina Rodionova also exited, losing their opening-round doubles match against Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova and Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina in three tight sets.

There was better news for Ajla Tomljanovic and qualifier Astra Sharma in women’s singles action.

The 26-year-old Sharma scored a 6-4 2-6 6-3 first-round win against former top-20 player Donna Vekic. It is the world No.102’s third consecutive victory in the Californian desert this week and is set to thrust Sharma back inside the world’s top 100 for the first time since October 2019.

Tomljanovic dropped only two games in her first-round win against American qualifier Usue Maitane Arconada. It sets up a second-round showdown with fifth seed and former world No.1 Garbine Muguruza.

Aussies in action – Indian Wells

Men’s singles, first round
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) d Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-3 7-6(4)
Mackenzie McDonald (USA) d James Duckworth (AUS) 6-3 6-3

Women’s singles, first round
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) d [Q] Usue Maitane Arconada (USA) 6-0 6-2
[Q] Astra Sharma (AUS) d Donna Vekic (CRO) 6-4 2-6 6-3

Women’s doubles, first round
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS)/Elena Rybakina (KAZ) d Anastasia Rodionova (AUS)/Arina Rodionova (AUS) 6-3 3-6 [10-6]

Men’s singles, first round
John Millman (AUS) v [WC] Jack Sock (USA)
Jordan Thompson (AUS) v Kevin Anderson (RSA)
[Q] Aleksandar Vukic (AUS) v Pablo Andujar (ESP)

Women’s singles, second round
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) v [5] Garbine Muguruza (ESP)
[Q] Astra Sharma (AUS) v [20] Daria Kasatkina (RUS)

Men’s singles, second round
[22] Alex de Minaur (AUS) v TBC
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) v [8] Hubert Hurkacz (POL)

Women’s doubles, first round
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS)/Shelby Rogers (USA) v Lyudmyla Kichenok (UKR)/Jelena Ostapenko (LAT)

Men’s doubles, first round
[7] John Peers (AUS)/Filip Polasek (SVK) v Ariel Behar (URU)/Gonzlao Escobar (ECU)
Alex de Minaur (AUS)/Reilly Opelka (USA) v Aslan Karatsev (RUS)/Andrey Rublev (RUS)
Luke Saville (AUS)/Cameron Norrie (GBR) v [2] Rajeev Ram (USA)/Joe Salisbury (GBR)