Melbourne, Australia, 18 January 2022 | Leigh Rogers

Chris O’Connell has matched his career-best result at the Australian Open, advancing to the second round for the second year in a row.

The 27-year-old Australian wildcard recorded a steely 7-6(4) 6-0 4-6 6-1 victory against world No.67 Hugo Gaston in first-round action at Melbourne Park today.

It is O’Connell’s third career win against a top 70-ranked opponent, all of which have been recorded in the past 12 months.

“(I’m) super happy,” O’Connell said. “I trained hard over December and it feels good that it’s paid off.”

A hard-fought opening set, which O’Connell clinched in a tiebreak, saw both players each strike 15 winners and win more than 80 per cent of first serve points.

The second set, however, proved different story. World No.175 O’Connell need only 33 minutes to take a two-sets-to-love lead, not conceding a game.

A spirited Gaston fought back in the third set, finally breaking O’Connell’s serve and briefly wresting back some momentum.

Yet O’Connell refused to be rattled and eventually closed out the four-set victory after two hours and 35 minutes on court.

“I just knew I had to regroup,” O’Connell said. “If I regrouped then I could take the momentum. That’s what happened.”

O’Connell, who finished the match with 43 winners, now faces Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, the No.13 seed, in the second round.

“Obviously he’s an amazing player, makes a million balls,” O’Connell said of the world No.13.

“I’m going to have to play my best tennis. (But) I’m confident and really looking forward to it.”

Australian No.1 Alex de Minaur survived a four-set test against Italian teen Lorenzo Musetti, while Nick Kyrgios put on a show to begin his AO 2022 campaign in style.

However, Jordan Thompson and Alexei Popyrin both lost five-set battles, while Aussie wildcard Alex Bolt exited in straight sets to Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Australian Open 2022

Men’s singles, first round
[32] Alex de Minaur (AUS) d Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) 3-6 6-3 6-0 6-3
Nick Kyrgios (AUS) 
d [Q] Liam Broady (GBR) 6-4 6-4 6-3
[WC] Chris O’Connell (AUS) 
d Hugo Gaston (FRA) 7-6(4) 6-0 4-6 6-1
Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) d Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 7-5 4-6 6-2 3-6 6-3
Steve Johnson (USA) d Jordan Thompson (AUS) 7-6(5) 6-7(6) 4-6 6-3 6-3
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) d [WC] Alex Bolt (AUS) 6-3 6-3 6-4

> VIEW: Australian Open 2022 men’s singles draw

Women’s singles, first round
[WC] Maddison Inglis (AUS) d [23] Leylah Fernandez (CAN) 6-4 6-2
[WC] Sam Stosur (AUS)
d [WC] Robin Anderson (USA) 6-7(5) 6-3 6-3
[2] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) d [WC] Storm Sanders (AUS) 5-7 6-3 6-2
[31] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) d [WC] Priscilla Hon (AUS) 6-2 6-3
Clara Tauson (DEN) d Astra Sharma (AUS) 6-3 6-4
Rebecca Peterson (SWE) d [WC] Daria Saville (AUS) 6-2 6-3

> VIEW: Australian Open 2022 women’s singles draw

Men’s singles, second round
[32] Alex de Minaur (AUS)
v Kamil Majchrzak (POL)
Nick Kyrgios (AUS)
v [2] Daniil Medvedev (RUS)
John Millman (AUS) 
v [3] Alexander Zverev (GER)
[WC] Aleksandar Vukic (AUS) 
v [Q] Radu Albot (MDA)
[WC] Chris O’Connell (AUS) v [13] Diego Schwartzman (ARG)

Women’s singles, second round
[1] Ash Barty (AUS) v [Q] Lucia Bronzetti (ITA)
[WC] Maddison Inglis (AUS) v [Q] Hailey Baptiste (USA)
[WC] Sam Stosur (AUS) v [10] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)

> READ: Doubles draws revealed for Australian Open 2022

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