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Tsitsipas 'almost perfect' en route to Open second round

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Melbourne (AFP)

World number six Stefanos Tsitsipas played a flawless first set as he crushed Salvatore Caruso 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 on Monday to launch his bid to better last year's semi-final appearance at the Australian Open.

Expectations are high for the 21-year-old, who stunned Roger Federer in 2019 en route to the final four, announcing himself as a force to be reckoned with.

He went on to win titles in Marseille and Estoril before making a big breakthrough by claiming the season-ending ATP Finals in London -- the youngest to do so since Lleyton Hewitt in 2001.

Tsitsipas came into the opening Grand Slam of the year on the back of a mixed build up -- losing to Denis Shapovalov and Nick Kyrgios at the ATP Cup, but beating Alexander Zverev.

But Italian world number 95 Caruso posed few problems for Tsitsipas, who enjoyed vocal support in a city that has a large Greek community.

"I tried to stay calm and be aggressive, I was very focused and in the zone," said the sixth seed.

"I was very happy with the first set. It was almost perfect. I can't remember the last time I went 6-0. It was good quality."

The 1.93m (6ft 4in) right-hander broke the Italian's opening service game to quickly take charge, sprinting through the first set in just 22 minutes and conceding just nine points.

Bidding to reach the second round for the first time, Caruso perked up in the second set, showing more backbone to win two games.

But the writing was on the wall and Tsitsipas raced to victory in convincing fashion, yelling "let's go" as he served out the match.

Tsitsipas is bidding to become the youngest Australian Open men's singles champion since Novak Djokovic in 2008, and prove he can be more consistent at Grand Slams.

But apart from his Melbourne run last year, he wasn't a threat at the Majors, losing in the first-round at Wimbledon and the US Open and in the fourth round at Roland Garros.

He said his experience in Melbourne last year still resonated with him.

"I get goosebumps when I think about what I went through and I hope to experience even better this year," he said.

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