London, UK, 6 July 2023 | Matt Trollope

It was a case of third time lucky for Chris O’Connell, who won his first round match at Wimbledon on his third day of trying.

With the tournament so far hit by frequent rain delays, O’Connell’s first-round encounter against Serbian Hamad Medjedovic took three days to complete.

Winning one set per day, O’Connell finally recorded a 7-5 6-4 4-6 6-4 triumph, advancing to the second round at the All England Club for the first time.

“It’s part of tennis, especially at Wimbledon,” said the Sydneysider of the multiple match interruptions, during which he drew on his experiences in first-round encounter with Gael Monfils in 2021.

“We had a five-set match. We started on Monday and we finished Wednesday night. So I’ve had a bit of experience with dealing with that kind of situation.

“Admittedly a couple of years ago, after each resumption I was quite good but he was always a little bit better, so I knew how important it was when resuming out there to really just show him that I’m ready to go from the get-go again.”

Doing so successfully set a second-round  encounter with Jiri Vesely, the powerful Czech who upset 22nd seed Sebastian Korda in round one.

“He’s unbelievable on the grass, especially here. He’s had some great consistent results over the years, so it’s going to be a really tough match,” O’Connell said.

The 29-year-old joins fellow Aussies Alex de Minaur and Jason Kubler, who like O’Connell both won their rain-delayed first-round matches on Thursday.

> READ: De Minaur to make mixed doubles debut at Wimbledon

O’Connell has enjoyed an impressive grass-court season so far, also reaching the quarterfinals of the ATP 250 event in Stuttgart.

The world No.73 undoubtedly felt good lining up against 156th-ranked qualifier Medjedovic, but the rain-affected encounter was more a test of patience rather than confidence or skill.

Nevertheless, O’Connell’s skills were a feature of this match, his stylish game well-suited to the slick lawns.

In a taut opening set – played on Tuesday – there were 10 deuces overall across four separate games, which also included five unconverted break points. It took 56 minutes to wrap up.

But towards the end, O’Connell managed to take control. He played an athletic forehand passing shot to earn two more break points in the 11th game, and converted when Medjedovic sprayed a wild double fault.

The Aussie served out the set with an ace, taking his tally to 14 winners against just seven errors. And he broke Medjedovic to open the second set – before rain intervened for the first time.

On a rain-affected Wednesday, O’Connell took the second set, before play was suspended again.

On a clearer Thursday, O’Connell lost momentum and seemed increasingly underpowered as he dropped the third set. His aces, winners and first-serve winning percentage all declined compared with set one.

He took a medical time-out at the end of the third set to get his ankle heavily taped. When he resumed his charge, he was always playing catch-up against Medjedovic, who was serving first and getting into an increasingly good groove behind his delivery.

Yet O’Connell dutifully held his serve to remain in contention, and snapped Medjedovic out of that groove with a stunning backhand passing shot winner to open the ninth game.

Medjedovic did not win another point.

He double faulted, then guided another shot long, to surrender his serve.

The Australian stepped up to the line in the following game to serve out the match, and did not falter.

“I sort of knew once it got a little bit close in the fourth set that he might tighten up a little bit and I had to be there and be ready to pounce when that opportunity came about and it did,” O’Connell said.

Aussies in action – Wimbledon

Gentlemen’s singles, first round
Chris O’Connell (AUS) d [Q] Hamad Medjedovic (SRB) 7-5 6-4 4-6 6-4
[15] Alex de Minaur (AUS) d [Q] Kimmer Coppejans (BEL) 6-7(5) 6-3 6-3 7-6(2)
Jason Kubler (AUS) d Ugo Humbert (FRA) 6-4 4-6 6-2 3-6 6-3

> READ: Courageous Kubler triumphs in five-set battle at Wimbledon

Gentlemen’s singles, second round
Quentin Halys (FRA) d Aleksandar Vukic (AUS) 6-3 6-1 6-4

> READ: Purcell and Thompson eliminate dangerous duo in doubles at Wimbledon

Gentlemen’s singles, second round
[15] Alex de Minaur (AUS) v Matteo Berrettini (ITA)
Chris O’Connell (AUS)
v Jiri Vesely (CZE)
Jason Kubler (AUS) v [25] Nicolas Jarry (CHI)

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