Miami, USA, 24 March 2023 | Leigh Rogers

Thanasi Kokkinakis has made the most of a lucky loser spot at the Miami Open by winning a three-set thriller in the opening round.

The 26-year-old Aussie bounced back from his final qualifying round loss two days ago and returned to the winners’ circle with a hard-fought 4-6 6-3 7-6(7) victory against Belgium’s Zizou Bergs.

After recovering from a 2-4 deficit in the deciding set, Kokkinakis eventually sealed victory against the 23-year-old wildcard in two hours and 29 minutes.

Kokkinakis was forced to dig deep though, bravely saving three match points in the third-set tiebreak.

This sets up a second-round showdown with eighth seed Hubert Hurkacz. The 26-year-old from Poland won the Miami title in 2021 and was a semifinalist last year.

World No.94 Kokkinakis, who won their only previous meeting five years ago, was the only Aussie contender to progress today in the men’s singles draw.

Unfortunately, Jason Kubler, Jordan Thompson and Chris O’Connell were all eliminated.

Brazilian Thiago Monteiro spoiled Kubler’s Miami debut, scoring a 6-4 7-6(6) victory in their first-round clash.

There was only a single break of serve in the one-hour and 40-minute battle. Kubler was on the verge of gaining some important momentum late in the second set, recovering from a 1-6 deficit in the tiebreak. But world No.81 Monteiro was able to seal victory on his sixth match point.

A gallant Thompson extended world No.56 Alex Molcan to three sets before bowing out, while O’Connell also pushed world No.40 Richard Gasquet to three sets in their first-round meeting.

In women’s doubles action, Ellen Perez and American Nicole Melichar-Martinez held their nerve in a tense finish against American Sofia Kenin and Ukrainian Nadiia Kichenok.

The eighth-seeded duo needed six match points, and had to save a match point, to close out a 6-3 6-7(5) [15-13] first-round victory.

Aussies in action – Miami

Men’s singles, first round
[LL] Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) d [WC] Zizou Bergs (BEL) 4-6 6-3 7-6(7)
Thiago Monteiro (BRA) d Jason Kubler (AUS) 6-4 7-6(6)
Alex Molcan (SVK) d [Q] Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-2 4-6 6-3
Richard Gasquet (FRA) d [LL] Chris O’Connell (AUS) 6-4 3-6 6-1

Women’s doubles, first round
[8] Ellen Perez (AUS)/Nicole Melichar-Martinez (USA) d Sofia Kenin (USA)/Nadiia Kichenok (UKR) 6-3 6-7(5) [15-13]

Men’s singles, second round
[15] Alex de Minaur (AUS) v Quentin Halys (FRA)
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) v [26] Botic van de Zandschulp (NED)
[LL] Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) v [8] Hubert Hurkacz (POL)

> VIEW: Miami Open men’s singles draw

Men’s doubles, first round
[6] Matt Ebden (AUS)/Rohan Bopanna (IND) v Kevin Krawietz (GER)/Fabrice Martin (FRA)
Rinky Hijikata (AUS)/Jason Kubler (AUS)
v [1] Wesley Koolhof (NED)/Neal Skupski (GBR)
John Peers (AUS)/Marcelo Melo (BRA) v [WC] Marcos Giron (USA)/J.J. Wolf (USA)

Women’s doubles, first round
[6] Storm Hunter (AUS)/Elise Mertens (BEL) v Miyu Kato (JPN)/Aldila Sutjiadi (IDA)

Women’s doubles, second round
[8] Ellen Perez (AUS)/Nicole Melichar-Martinez (USA) v TBC

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