Tennis fans and commentators couldn't believe their eyes on Saturday at the Miami Open as Aussie stars Alex de Minaur and Thanasi Kokkinakis both lost in three-set thrillers that each contained three tie-breakers. De Minaur and Kokkinakis both slugged it out on court for close to three-and-a-half hours each, but they were sent packing by Quentin Halys and Hubert Hurkacz respectively.
De Minaur, the top-ranked Australian player at World No.18, kicked off the day of drama when he was knocked out by the unseeded Halys 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (10-8). It came as a bitter blow for de Minaur, considering his opponent was ranked over 50 places lower than him at World No.70.
Both players were broken on serve three times across the three-set epic, with de Minaur unable to convert two match points in the deciding set tie-breaker. Halys sent down a staggering 21 aces compared to de Minaur's two, while the French player won the winners count 57-33 but made nearly twice as many unforced errors as the 24-year-old Aussie. De Minaur, the 15th seed, was also ousted at the same stage at Indian Wells last week and is projected to fall one place in the ATP rankings.
Things then got ever worse for the Australian contingent in Miami as Kokkinakis blew five match points to lose 6-7 (8-10) 7-6 (9-7) 7-6 (8-6) to eighth seed Hurkacz. Kokkinakis thought he wouldn't even be playing in the main draw in Miami after losing in qualifying, but made the most of a lucky loser wildcard to make the round of 64.
However his progress was halted by Hurkacz in a brutal loss that left tennis fans and commentators stunned. The Aussie had saved six set points to win the first-set, and 2021 champion Hurkacz saved three match points in the second and another two in the final-set breaker.
"It’s tough to explain for me. I was just trying to stay in there and compete, play some good shots," Hurkacz said after the match.
Kokkinakis was on serve at 6-4 in the final set tie-break, but Hurkacz produced a stunning winner up the line that turned the momentum in his favour. The Polish star won the next three points to finally prevail, with the three-hour, 31-minute contest marking the longest best-of-three ATP match of the year so far.
In a further blow for Kokkinakis, the Aussie battler is projected to fall nine spots to World No.103 after he only recently got back into the top 100. "I've been feeling happy on court the past couple of weeks and made a pact with myself to at least compete, no matter how I'm feeling," he said after his win in the first round.
"My tennis is fine, it's just my head. I'm just trying to give myself every chance. The crowd got behind me and without them I wouldn't have pulled through. I'm happy I live to fight another day."
Absolutely insane match
— i¡_¡i¡_¡i (@wwolfa123) March 26, 2023
— Nick Kyrgios out of context (@NoContextKingNK) March 26, 2023
One of the best matches of the season! Dramatic!
— Marcela Linhares (@ma__linharess) March 26, 2023
Incredible match! Congrats Hubi! Great respect! 👏💪🏆 First time I saw three tie breaks and three times 6:6! Incredible battle!
— Konrad Hernik (@KonradHernik) March 26, 2023
Those gets from #Hubi were outrageous, didn't matter how hard #Kokkinakis hit the ball, he kept digging out shot after shot! You can tell.. they work on his flexibility, no pulled groin muscle! 😂😂 #MiamiOpen
— ULTM8SerenaWilliamsf (@ultm8swfans) March 26, 2023
Five match points! 🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺
— Match Point Brewing (@matchpointbrew1) March 26, 2023
an absolute mess of a match played by DeMinaur. Should have easily won it in straights, instead he finds himself out. Tough to watch to be honest@FantasyTennisL1
— rick marsonet (@RMarsonet) March 25, 2023
That was an AWFUL loss for de Minaur. I can't put into words how poor that result is considering how Halys looked throughout the 2nd and 3rd sets physically.
— 🇨🇦Jon🇨🇦 (@JRTweetsTennis) March 25, 2023
Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev in cruise control
On Sunday, World No.1 Carlos Alcaraz moved into the last 16 after thrashing Dusan Lajovic of Serbia 6-0 7-6 (7-5) as he seeks to complete the 'Sunshine Double'. The 19-year-old Spaniard, who beat Daniil Medvedev to win the title at Indian Wells last week, looked in full control as he outclassed Lajovic in the first set to keep his Miami title defence on track.
"Everything was under control or I thought it was but, you know, in the match it's never easy," Alcaraz said. "The nerves came out. I made a few mistakes that I hadn't done during the whole match. So it was tough to win the match. But I'm really happy with the level that I'm playing and it was a good match."
Medvedev also barely broke sweat as he beat Spanish clay-court specialist Roberto Carballes Baena 6-1 6-2 in just 62 minutes on Saturday. The Russian's loss to Alcaraz in the Indian Wells final ended his 19-match winning streak on the ATP tour.
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