Melbourne, Australia, 5 January 2022 | Darren Parkin

World No.75 Jordan Thompson has recovered from a slow start to win a fascinating battle with countryman Chris O’Connell in the opening round of the Melbourne Summer Set.

Thompson prevailed 1-6 7-5 6-4 to progress to the second round, where he will face Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland.

O’Connell started the match superbly, taking just 23 minutes to fire through the opening set.

The 27-year-old Sydneysider won 82 per cent of points on first serve, but stayed at 70 per cent on his second. By contrast, Thompson dropped away on his second serve, going from 80 per cent of points won on his first, to just 14 per cent on his second.

The contest evened up in the second set, with Thompson creating longer points and using his trademark work-rate to fight his way back.

In a marathon eighth game, O’Connell saved five break points to secure the hold after 11 minutes.

It wasn’t long before he was under pressure again though, with Thompson’s aggression from behind the baseline proving too much in the 12th game. He broke to love to claim it 7-5 and send the match to a decider.

Only 10 rallies went five or more shots in the opening set, but that ramped up to 41 in the second, with Thompson winning 30 of them.

Thompson lost only five points on serve in the third set, and generated six break points back the other way, converting the last of those six, which gave him the set and the match.

Thompson was forced to withdraw from last year’s Australian Open first round with a neck injury, and he spoke earlier this week about managing his own expectations in the new season.

“It’s always tough at the start of the year, you don’t know how you are going to come out and you don’t know how you are going to be striking the ball,” Thompson said.

“So I never put too much pressure or expectation on myself during the first few weeks of the year.”

Melbourne Summer Set – ATP 250

Men’s singles, first round
Jordan Thompson (AUS) d [WC] Chris O’Connell (AUS) 1-6 7-5 6-4
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) d Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 7-6(5) 6-3
[Q] Maxime Cressy (USA) d [Q] Rinky Hijikata (AUS) 6-3 6-0

Men’s doubles, first round
[Alt] Altug Celikbilek (TUR)/Yannick Maden (GER) d Rinky Hijikata (AUS)/Chris O’Connell (AUS) 3-6 6-3 [10-4]

Men’s singles, second round
Jordan Thompson (AUS) v Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN)
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) v Tallon Griekspoor (NED) 

> VIEW: Full men’s singles draw

Men’s doubles, second round
[8] Matt Reid (AUS)/Jordan Thompson (AUS) v Hans Hach Verdugo (MEX)/Stefano Travaglia (ITA)

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