Alexander Bublik is the 2021 ace king, and he showed why on Tuesday in Eastbourne.
The eighth seed blasted 18 aces past fellow Kazakhstani Mikhail Kukushkin in a 6-1, 6-4 victory in the first round of the Viking International Eastbourne. The 24-year-old will play Belarusian Egor Gerasimov in the second round.
When looking at the aces leaderboard, familiar names include John Isner, Reilly Opelka, Ivo Karlovic and Milos Raonic among others. But Bublik has separated himself from the field so far this year.
2021 ATP Tour Ace Leaders
|1) Alexander Bublik*||444||36|
|2) Reilly Opelka*||331||19|
|3) Jan-Lennard Struff||323||33|
|4) Matteo Berrettini||313||32|
|5) Alexander Zverev||301||34|
*Still competing this week
The World No. 39 now has 444 aces in 36 matches, and nobody else on the Tour has more than 331 (Opelka, 19 matches). Although last season was shortened due to COVID-19, Bublik finished 12th on Tour with 273 aces in 28 matches.
His next opponent, Gerasimov, eliminated former World No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 6-4. This will be the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting, but they split two professional clashes in 2015 and 2016, respectively.[WATCH LIVE 2]
Also moving on Tuesday was Australian veteran John Millman, who beat home favourite Jay Clarke, a wild card, 6-3, 6-2. The 32-year-old will next play Italian Lorenzo Sonego.
Top seed Gael Monfils learned his second-round opponent when Aussie lucky loser Max Purcell edged countryman James Duckworth 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(5) after one hour and 46 minutes.