The 34-year-old, who reached the fourth round in Melbourne in 2012, won 89 per cent (31/35) of his first-serve points to advance in 65 minutes. Kukushkin will face two-time tour-level champion Robin Haase in the second round after the Dutchman edged Andrej Martin 6-0, 4-6, 7-5.
Damir Dzumhur moved past Australian Li Tu 6-1, 6-3 in 78 minutes to record his first win of the season. The World No. 161 is aiming to make his eighth appearance in the main draw in Melbourne, after also coming through qualifying last year.
Radu Albot also booked his place in the second round with a 7-6(6), 6-2 victory against Italy’s Filippo Baldi. The former World No. 39 enjoyed a run to the third round at the Australian Open in 2021 and will meet Yosuke Watanuki next after his one-hour 32-minute victory.
Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann rallied from a set-and-a-break down to overcome Jason Jung 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-0 in two hours and 18 minutes, while World No. 169 Elias Ymer beat Slovakian Jozef Kovalik 7-6(3), 6-2.