Little-known Australian player Chris O’Connell became the sixth home-grown talent to progress to the second round of the Australian Open after a sensational upset win over world No.37 Jan-Lennard Struff.
O’Connell, ranked 121 in the world, scored a straight sets victory over the big-hitting German - albeit on the back of tiebreakers in the first two sets.
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Nonetheless, his 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 victory saw him join the likes of Nick Kyrgios, Bernard Tomic, Alex Bolt, James Duckworth and Ajla Tomljanovic in advancing to the second round of the Australian Open.
The win marked an exciting high point for the 26-year-old, who is now a far cry away from the job he held cleaning boats at Sydney’s Pittwater Harbour this time two years ago.
Up against the world No.37, O’Connell held his nerve two win tiebreakers in the first two sets before dominating Struff in the third.
The win was his second at a grand slam, after claiming his first win at the top flight of tennis at last year’s U.S. Open.
His first round victory in Melbourne sets him up for a clash with the winner between 12th seed Roberto Bautista-Agut and Radu Albot, as well as guaranteeing him a $150,000 payday.
Struff was backing up after a successful ATP Cup campaign for Germany last week, during which he defeated world No.7 Milos Raonic.
— Jedd Zetzer (@JeddZetzer) February 9, 2021
Chris O'Connell what a legend
— JC 🎾. (@Joe__Tennis) February 9, 2021
YEAH!!!!! AWESOME WIN, CHRIS!!!!!!!!! WELL EARNED & A NEAR FLAWLESS PERFORMANCE! Also, a really nice show of sportsmanship by Struff in a tough moment for him I'm sure.
— ⚡️ (@wrslr) February 9, 2021
Thiem, Zverev advance at Australian Open
Racquet-smashing Alexander Zverev is breathing easy again after surviving a huge fright to join fellow title hopeful Dominic Thiem in the Australian Open second round at Melbourne Park.
Backing up after a draining ATP Cup campaign, Zverev had to battle back from a set down to deny American Marcos Giron the biggest scalp of his career on Monday.
The sixth seed punished his racquet to let off some steam as he battled to avoid dropping the first two sets in a tense 6-7 (8-10) 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 6-2 victory on Margaret Court Arena.
"He played incredible. He knew that on a big stage, against a top-10 player, he needs to come out firing, be at his best and he had me on the ropes there," Zverev said.
"That second-set tiebreaker could have gone either way and I don't want to go down two sets to love."
Zverev's escape followed Thiem's far more routine 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 6-3 win over Mikhail Kukushkin.
The pair last year featured in the first grand slam final since 2014 not featuring any of tennis's big three - Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic - and again loom as two of the biggest threats to end that trio's 15-year domination of the Open.
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