Jason Kubler rounded out a tough day for the Aussies on Sunday at Melbourne Park, suffering a five-set defeat at the hands of Daniel Elahi Galan.
In front of a capacity Kia Arena crowd – split with both Australian and Colombian support – Kubler came out firing and took the opening set 6-1.
His 27-year-old opponent responded in the second, before taking a tight third set in a breaker to gain control of the match.
But as Aussie men so often do at Melbourne Park, Kubler incredibly forced a decider and was drawing maximal energy from the local crowd late into Sunday evening.
Ultimately, it wasn’t to be, with the contest ending in most heartbreaking fashion, in tennis’ modern arbitrator – the super tiebreak.
30-year-old Kubler found himself behind 2-7 before a stirring run levelled the stakes at 7-7, setting up an epic finish just after 11pm in Melbourne.
Falling behind 8-9 and conceding the first match point, a long exchange ended with a backhand unforced error from the Aussie followed by clear let out of frustration, hitting a ball in the direction of Court 16 and John Cain Arena.
Galan’s final match winning point – his 189th in total to Kubler’s 188th – came just before the clock struck five hours, to cease a true game of inches.
The defeat concluded a difficult day for our Aussies with three bowing out and just one progressing into the last 64.
Dane Sweeny was gallant in his Grand Slam main draw debut, forcing 22nd seed Francisco Cerundolo to five sets after Adam Walton went down in three tight sets to Italian Matteo Arnaldi.
Chris O’Connell was the sole Australian winner on the new ‘Opening Sunday’ at Melbourne Park as he came from two sets to one down to defeat Christian Garin on Court 3.
As attention turns to Monday, there will be a further eleven locals in singles action, headlined by Australian number one Alex de Minaur who will face former world number three Milos Raonic on Rod Laver Arena this evening.
Two all-Aussie men’s matches will no doubt have lines wrapping around stadiums as Alexei Popyrin and Marc Polmansget set to battle on John Cain Arena before Aleks Vukic and Jordan Thompson square off on Court 3.
Storm Hunter (vs Sara Errani) and Taylah Preston (vs Elina Svitolina) will open play on Kia Arena and 1573 Arena respectively, whilst Daria Saville (vs Magdalena Frech) and Omar Jasika (vs Hubert Hurkacz) will contest the final two matches on John Cain Arena.
James Duckworth (vs Luca Van Assche) is second up on Court 6 – the first Aussie to play in front of the new ‘Court Side Bar’ and Rinky Hijikata (vs Jan-Lennard Struff) will conclude play on Court 3.