Stefanos Tsitsipas safely cleared the first hurdle at Australian Open 2022, the fourth seed recording a 6-2 6-4 6-3 triumph over world No.86 Mikael Ymer on Tuesday night.
MORE: All the scores from Day 2 at AO 2022
The friends from juniors days duelled in the third round at the Melbourne Park last year, the Swede collecting just six games then. However, Ymer gave the world No.4 a sterner test than the scoreline suggests on Tuesday night.
Tsitsipas saved nine of 11 break points to remain the frontrunner, and will meet Next Gen prodigy Sebastian Baez in the second round.
"A lot of rallies, a lot of exchanges. Some of them were really long," said the Greek, relieved to venture on in straight sets.
"He gave me a hard time, he was really going after every single ball and stayed in the match for as long as he could.
"Mikael is someone that I've been competing with for the last 15 years, we're the same generation, we're same age. So, it's kind of special to be facing each other on this court. You know, we started from eight years old playing together and now we're playing in Rod Laver Arena."
Tsitsipas chalked up his second semifinal at Melbourne Park last summer, including a memorable comeback against Rafael Nadal from two sets down, and portrayed similar all-court tennis under the lights on Tuesday.
The 23-year-old was particularly impressive transferring up the court, with a 34/48 net point ratio along with 30 winners. The world No.4 had a cheek to cheek smile after match point, but is already targeting improvements in the second round.
"For sure I'll try to decrease the unforced errors (38)," he said.
"I think I had a few more than I usually have. So keeping the consistency, trying to attack a bit more, be a bit more daring in certain moments.
"These few moments, few things can make a massive difference."
On the very first point, Ymer sent out a signal of intent, with a forehand cross-court passing shot on the run evading Tsitsipas' reach. The Greek soon snatched away the initiative, though, his forehand dictating play with disguise and force.
A tenth winner capped a very polished opener from the world No.4, and the flair factor was high for a series of picturesque points as both players illustrated their athleticism in the second set.
Ymer slid along the baseline from side to side, Tsitsipas almost toying with him at 5-4, to strike an end-of-reach forehand pass. It was a moment of magic, but a couple of crunching serves later and Tsitsipas escaped with a two-set lead.
The Swede will be frustrated by seeing four, then five break points dissolve in consecutive Tsitsipas service games in the third set. Tsitsipas kept up the intensity and always had Ymer either on the run or guessing to close out victory in two hours and 10 minutes.
World No.88 Baez, on Grand Slam debut, advanced after a five-set win over Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Tsitsipas is ready to do his homework.
"I don't know Sebastian, I watched him play at the NextGen Finals, watched some of his games," he added.
"I will of course spend time looking more at most of his games that he had last year. It is tricky when you play against players that you have never seen that much before and players that haven't really been exposed on the tour as much as others. It just needs to be done a certain way."