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O'Connell enjoys big win in Miami over US star Tiafoe

AP PHOTO

Chris O'Connell has enjoyed one of the best wins of his late-blooming career, knocking out American star Frances Tiafoe to reach the third round in the Miami Open.

The 29-year-old Sydneysider proved rock solid again in Saturday's second-round clash at the rain-hit Masters 1000 event in Florida, defeating the popular home hope and 21st seed 7-5 7-6 (7-5).

With the home crowd noisily getting behind the former top-tenner Tiafoe, O'Connell held firm in two close-fought sets before prevailing in an hour and 55 minutes.

A huge W in the 305 💰@chrisoconnelll wins consecutive matches at Masters 1000 level for the first time!@MiamiOpen | #MiamiOpen pic.twitter.com/mJU1wNoN5P

— ATP Tour (@atptour) March 23, 2024

But fellow Australian Jordan Thompson was unable to cash in on a bright start in his match against French veteran Gael Monfils.

Thompson took the first set in a tiebreak before being swept aside by Monfils, who won 6-7(3) 6-1 6-2.

O'Connnell, after his match had been delayed by morning rain, hit 28 winners and pounded down 17 aces in his win, continuing a level of consistency which has seen him reach the second round or better in six straight tour-level events. 

It's also set up a last-32 clash for O'Connell with American wildcard Martin Damm, who's making his tour-level debut and cashed in on his experienced compatriot Tommy Paul, who was leading 6-4 1-2 at the time on Saturday, having to retire with a leg injury.

That represents a golden opportunity for O'Connell against the 20-year-old world No.204 Damm, with the Australian, currently No.66, having the chance to threaten his career-best ranking of 53 if he moves into the round of 16.

O'Connell is now up to No.4 in the Australian men's rankings behind Alex de Minaur, Jordan Thompson and Alexei Popyrin, who are all still in the Miami event too.

Tiafoe's defeat made it a bad day for home fans on top of US No.1 Taylor Fritz also bowing out in a shock 6-3 6-4 loss to Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild.

In other action, Jannik Sinner advanced to the third round with a 6-3 6-4 victory over fellow Italian Andrea Vavassori.

The third-ranked Sinner, the Australian Open champion and last year's Miami Open runner-up, had to wait overnight to clinch the opening victory at Miami after rain forced the match to be suspended on Friday with Sinner leading 3-2.

The 22-year-old Sinner stretched his record to 12-0 against fellow Italians on tour level.

Andy Murray advanced to the third round with a 7-6 (7-0) 6-3 victory over 29th-ranked Tomas Martín Etcheverry.

Murray, who won the Miami title in 2009 and 2013, snapped a nine-match losing streak against top 50 players with the win and has now played 995 career tour-level matches.

"My body feels that," said Murray, who turns 37 in May.

"It feels like I've played a thousand. I've obviously been on the tour a long time. My first matches on tour were just as I turned 18 years old ... It's been a long career but an amazing career."

- with AP


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