Australia’s contingent at the ATP Tour event in Washington has been slashed in half with Alexei Popyrin, Jordan Thompson and James Duckworth exiting in the first round.
Wildcard entry Brandon Nakashima, on his 20th birthday, celebrated a 6-3 6-3 win over Popyrin.
Nakashima is in great form after making the final in back-to-back weeks in Los Cabos and Atlanta and the American showed his confidence against Popyrin, this year’s Singapore titlist, converting all three of his break points to advance after just 70 minutes.
Thompson coughed up a one-set lead to go down to Swedish qualifier Elias Ymer 3-6 7-6 6-3 while Duckworth fell to Tennys Sandgren 6-3 2-6 6-2.
Nick Kyrgios, the 2019 champion, is scheduled to take to the court for his opening round meeting with Mackenzie McDonald later on Tuesday evening while his fellow Australians Alex de Minaur and John Millman have byes into the second round as seeded players.
Meanwhile, 21-year-old American Sebastian Korda is through to the last 16 of the hardcourt event with a 7-5 6-4 win over Vasek Pospisil of Canada.
Korda, the 12th seed, next faces Italian fifth seed Jannik Sinner or Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland, while Nakashima’s opponent in the second round will be British sixth seed Dan Evans.
Nakashima credits increased self-belief and an improved serve with helping his recent form.
“I just try to tell myself to just stay calm out there, just focus on what I do best,” Nakashima said.
“All these hard-court matches has helped me with my confidence in my game, knowing that I can compete with all these top guys if I bring my best game out there.”
Canada’s second seed Felix Auger-Aliassime and seventh-seeded Briton Cameron Norrie progressed to the round of 16 while Steve Johnson and Denis Kudla reached the second round on a good day for the Americans.