London, Wimbledon, 3 July 2023 | Leigh Rogers and Matt Trollope

Jordan Thompson has staged a steely comeback to make a victorious start to his Wimbledon 2023 campaign.

The 29-year-old Australian recovered from a two-set deficit for just the third time in his career, roaring back to record a 2-6 2-6 6-4 7-6(4) 6-3 win against world No.55 Brandon Nakashima in an enthralling first-round showdown.

Nakashima made the fourth round in a career-best run at the All England Club last year and the 21-year-old American’s grass-court nous was on display early.

But a patient Thompson eventually wore down his higher-ranked opponent, with 16 aces and 36 winners helping him notch the sixth five-set win of his career.

“The performance was a bit scrappy early on,” Thompson admitted. “(I was down) 2-6 2-6 in what felt like a heartbeat.

“But I did everything I could to change things and it ended up paying off.

“It was definitely one of the better feelings, winning that final point (after) being two-sets-to-love down and not playing my best.”

Thompson handled every challenge thrown at him – including an untimely rain delay in the sixth game of the deciding set, when the world No.70 had a break point on Nakashima’s serve.

After spending more than an hour in the locker rooms, Thompson managed to snare a crucial break in the first point back on court.

From there, Thompson closed out their Court 9 battle to become the first Australian in 16 years to win an opening-round match at Wimbledon from two-sets down.

This propels Thompson, who has now won 10 of his 14 grass-court singles matches this season, into the second round at Wimbledon for the third consecutive year.

Seven-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic awaits in the second round.

“It’s not every day you play Novak at Wimbledon,” an excited Thompson said about facing the No.2 seed for the first time.

“That’s why we play tennis, to play the best players on the biggest stages.”

Max Purcell might disagree with that sentiment, after bowing out to seventh seed Andrey Rublev on Court 3 earlier in the day.

And while there were bright spots for the 25-year-old Aussie, Rublev was ultimately too powerful and steady, storming into the second round in straight sets.

Purcell’s last memory of competing at the All England Club was a resoundingly positive one; he combined with compatriot Matt Ebden to win the gentlemen’s doubles title last year.

In the opening stages of his clash with Rublev, that comfort on the lawns shone through as he pressured the Russian repeatedly on serve.

Yet against the tide, Rublev scored a service break in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead, and maintained his advantage throughout the rest of the set.

World No.64 Purcell settled, increasingly frustrating Rublev with his wide variety of shot-making skills. He built a 5-2 lead, but shortly afterward, he lost his way.

From 5-3, 30-15 up, Purcell lost 19 consecutive points, losing the second set and going down a break in the third.

He did not recover, with Rublev winning 6-3 7-5 6-4 in just over 90 minutes.

Purcell later revealed he was playing with a fractured right foot.

It was also a challenging day for ladies’ singles debutante Storm Hunter, who exited to China’s Wang Xinyu.

Hunter had progressed through qualifying to earn entry into The Championships, but world No.73 Wang halted that momentum as she claimed a 6-3 6-1 victory in just over an hour.

The world No.6 in the WTA doubles rankings, Hunter will now turn her attention to her ladies’ doubles campaign alongside Belgian Elise Mertens. The 28-year-old Australian was a Wimbledon doubles semifinalist with American Caroline Dolehide in 2021.

There was better news though for Aleksandar Vukic, who enjoyed a dream debut at the All England Club.

The world No.87 recorded a four-set opening-round victory against Germany’s Daniel Altmaier.

> READ: Vukic scores breakthrough victory at Wimbledon 2023

Aussies in action – Wimbledon

Gentlemen’s singles, first round
Jordan Thompson (AUS) d Brandon Nakashima (USA) 2-6 2-6 6-4 7-6(4) 6-3
Aleksandar Vukic (AUS) d Daniel Altmaier (GER) 6-3 7-6(1) 3-6 7-5
[7] Andrey Rublev d Max Purcell (AUS) 6-3 7-5 6-4

Ladies’ singles, first round
Wang Xinyu (CHN d [Q] Storm Hunter (AUS) 6-3 6-1

Gentlemen’s singles, first round
[15] Alex de Minaur (AUS) v [Q] Kimmer Coppejans (BEL)
Jason Kubler (AUS) v Ugo Humbert (FRA)
Chris O’Connell (AUS)
v [Q] Hamad Medjedovic (SRB)
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) v [Q] Dominic Stricker (SUI)

Ladies’ singles, first round
Daria Saville (AUS) v [WC] Katie Boulter (GBR)

Gentlemen’s singles, second round
Jordan Thompson (AUS) v [2] Novak Djokovic (SRB)
Aleksandar Vukic (AUS) v TBC

> READ: Doubles draws revealed for Wimbledon 2023

> PREVIEW: Five Australians in action on day two at Wimbledon 2023

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