A duel between Jordan Thompson and Chris O’Connell was the highlight on a Wednesday to forget for the Australians in action at the Melbourne Summer Set.
The only other Aussie singles win of the day belonged to World No. 61 Alexei Popyrin who took out Stefano Travaglia 7-6(5), 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena.
In the opening match of the day on Court 13, it was O’Connell who burst out of the blocks before he was chased down in three entertaining sets, with Thompson prevailing 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 in two hours and 19 minutes.
“Yeah, [I’m feeling] great. I guess that's the kind of match you want to start the new year with, a tough one, get some court time,” Thompson said in his press conference.
“Didn't necessarily want it to be a three-set match, but I'll take a win any day of the week.”
O’Connell pounced on any opportunity he got, earning three breakpoints and capitalising on two of them as Thompson struggled to get going. Before Thompson knew what had hit him, he was down a set after just 23 minutes.
“I didn't think I played a bad first set, but I thought Chris played some of the best tennis he's played. He came out, he was on fire, he jumped me,” Thompson added.
“His ball-striking was incredible. He was serving well. I just had to hang around, and thankfully got off to a decent start in the second and sort of edged my way back into the match.”
The World No. 75 shook off his woes from the opening set to claim the second in an arm wrestle after 69 minutes. Thompson increased his first serve percentage from 53% to 77% in the second set as he began to warm into the contest - his first for the year.
Thompson closed out the match in the sort of form we expect, winning 89% of points on his first serve and hitting three aces to keep O’Connell at bay. After many attempts - six to be exact - Thompson finally converted a breakpoint in the tenth game of the final set to secure victory.
Despite the loss, it was a great showing from O’Connell who is holding out hope of receiving a wildcard into the 2022 Australian Open.
Unfortunately, from an Australian perspective, it was all downhill from here.
After qualifying for his maiden ATP main draw on Tuesday, Rinky Hijikata fell to American qualifier Maxime Cressy 3-6, 0-6 in an hour and three minutes.
Ellen Perez opened proceedings on Court 5 but was no match for Spain’s Nuria Parrizas Diaz, going down 0-6, 3-6 in 58 minutes. Following on from Perez on Court 5 was fellow Aussie Astra Sharma who, despite a good fight, fell to Swede Rebecca Peterson 1-6, 6-3, 2-6 in two hours of match play.
Also falling in a three-setter was Lizette Cabrera, losing out to World No. 69 Anastasia Potapova 7-5, 2-6, 2-6 in an hour and 55 minutes. There was no luck for Seone Mendez either, who went down to Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove 3-6, 4-6 in an hour and 25 minutes.
Despite fighting valiantly, Sam Stosur fell to Chinese qualifier Lin Zhu 6-7(5), 6-7(5) in a tick over two hours.
Closing out the day on the ladies side was Destanee Aiava who fell to former World No. 1 Simona Halep 4-6, 2-6 in an hour and 19 minutes.
Arina Rodionova teamed up with Dutchwoman Pattinama Kerkhove in the doubles to score a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Renata Vorcova and Katarzyna Piter in an hour and 11 minutes.
Unfortunately, Gabriella Da Silva Fick and Olivia Tjandramulia went down to Italian duo Sara Errani and Jasmine Paolini 4-6, 2-6 in an hour and four minutes.
Alexandra Osborne and Taylah Preston also lost their match, going down to Katarzyna Kawa and Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov 2-6, 2-6 in 54 minutes.
Hijikata and O’Connell closed out the day on Court 13 by losing their opening round matchup to Altug Celikbilik and Yannick Maden 6-3, 3-6, 4-10.