Aussie wildcard's stunning act in massive Australian Open boilover

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·Sports Editor
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Chris O'Connell, pictured here in action against Diego Schwartzman at the Australian Open. I’m
Chris O'Connell produced a brilliant act of sportsmanship at the Australian Open. Image: Channel Nine/Getty

Aussie wildcard Chris O'Connell has won over the tennis world with a stunning act of sportsmanship in a huge upset win over Diego Schwartzman at the Australian Open.

The 27-year-old took down 13th seed Schwartzman in straight sets on Thursday, winning 7-6 6-4 6-4 for the biggest victory of his career.

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Not only did the Sydneysider win the match but he also displayed his class and character in a telling moment early on.

After taking out an extraordinary first set that lasted over an hour, O'Connell was serving at 2-3, 40-0 when the umpire thought he had won the game.

After Schwartzman whipped a backhand across court that evaded the Aussie player, the line judge called the ball out and the chair umpire awarded the game to O'Connell.

However Schwartzman protested that the ball had hit O'Connell's racquet, and the Aussie was all-too happy to give himself away.

O'Connell admitted to the umpire that he had touched the ball in a brilliant moment of sportsmanship, earning a round of applause from the crowd.

"Beautiful. We expect nothing less from our Australian athletes," Casey Dellacqua said in commentary for Channel Nine.

"That's great sportsmanship."

Chris O'Connell, pictured here after after victory over Diego Schwartzman at the Australian Open.
Chris O'Connell celebrates after victory over Diego Schwartzman at the Australian Open. (Photo by MICHAEL ERREY/AFP via Getty Images)

In extraordinary scenes, O'Connell then went on to win the second and third sets against his highly-fancied opponent to earn a $221,000 payday for making the third round.

It marked the first time O'Connell has beaten a top-20 opponent in his career.

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The World No.175 is now through to the third round of a grand slam for the first time.

He also became the first Aussie male to beat a top-15 seed in straight sets at the Australian Open since Pat Rafter in 2001.

O'Connell wrapped up the victory in three hours and seven minutes to set up a round-of-32 clash against American Maxime Cressy.

It will also be the first time in the third round at any major for Cressy, who advanced by beating Czech qualifier Tomas Machac 6-1 3-6 6-1 7-6 (7-5).

Chris O'Connell, pictured here in his second round clash against Diego Schwartzman at the Australian Open.
Chris O'Connell plays a backhand in his second round clash against Diego Schwartzman at the Australian Open. (Photo by Mackenzie Sweetnam/Getty Images)

Schwartzman had reached the third round at Melbourne Park in each of the past four years and had never before lost at a grand slam to a player ranked as low as O'Connell.

But the Australian underdog was roared home to victory by a raucous home crowd on Court 3.

O'Connell needed a wildcard to get into the Australian Open, with Aussie Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt granting his wish.

And he has well-and-truly repaid the faith after he advanced to round two for a second-successive year by downing Frenchman Hugo Gaston in four sets on Tuesday.

The late-blooming O'Connell had a rollercoaster year in 2021, mixing some good results with an ankle injury, osteitis pubis and a bout of coronavirus.

"My very first tournament back I caught Covid, which has knocked me around for a little bit," he said.

"That was my year - good results and injuries and sickness."

with AAP

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