Melbourne, Australia, 14 January 2024 | Jackson Mansell

Australian Christopher O’Connell has come from two-sets-to-one down to defeat Chilean Cristian Garin in a four-hour, five-set epic.

In a seesawing battle, the world No.71 outlasted Garin 3-6 7-5 4-6 6-1 7-5 to progress to the second round of the Australian Open for a third time.

Garin jumped out of the blocks in the opening set, dominating on serve to establish an early lead.

“It was quite windy early on. He’s got such amazing footwork and I think he played a little bit better in the wind than I did,” O’Connell said.

“I was struggling just to get set and hit quality shots.

“It’s quite swirly on that court, it didn’t come from one direction. I dropped back as the match went on, played more clay-court type tennis and I think that helped me a little bit.”

When the world No.88 got the break to go up 3-2 in the second set, he seemed to be in cruise control.

However, unforced errors and double faults proved costly and helped O’Connell to break back in the following game and gain some much-needed momentum.

The Chilean had three break points with the set locked at 4-all, however O’Connell would manage to retain serve. He would then find a break when it mattered most to level the match.

As he did early in the first set, Garin put early pressure on the Australian’s serve in the third set.

The 29-year-old weathered the storm for the most part, but Garin would eventually capitalise on his sixth break point of the set. That buffer would be all the former world No.17 needed as he closed out the set 6-4.

It was all O’Connell in the fourth set, as the Australian took all three service games from Garin to level proceedings with ease. Unforced errors in big moments would prove an issue again, as O’Connell sent the match into a deciding set.

Up a break in the final set, the New South Welshman had a chance to serve for the match but was unsuccessful as Garin broke back.

Just when the 27-year-old had got the match back on serve, four unforced errors saw O’Connell regain the break.

Despite a late scare from Garin, O’Connell did not cough up his second opportunity to serve for the match and closed out a hard-fought victory in four hours and 21 minutes.

“I was super confident I was just going to serve it out,” O’Connell said. “I started finding rhythm in my serve, the wind died down – that mucked me up earlier.

“He jagged back a break and then I got a second opportunity to serve it out and I somehow did it, even though I faced a break point.”

O’Connell is set to face either 16th seed Ben Shelton or Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round.

Earlier today, Aussie qualifier Dane Sweeny pushed world No.22 Francisco Cerundolo to five sets in his Grand Slam main-draw debut.

“It would have been nice to win, but just that experience was next level. Never had anything like that,” said the 22-year-old after the three-hour, 23-minute battle.

“Definitely things to improve on, but also a lot of positives to take out of that and a lot of confidence to take out of that, for sure.”

Meanwhile, Italian Matteo Arnaldi tallied 57 winners to spoil Adam Walton’s major debut. The world No.41 recorded a 7-6(5) 6-2 6-4 victory against the 24-year-old Aussie.

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Aussies in action – Australian Open

Men’s singles, first round
Chris O’Connell (AUS) d Cristian Garin (CHI) 3-6 7-5 4-6 6-1 7-5
[22] Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) d [Q] Dane Sweeny (AUS) 3-6 6-3 6-4 2-6 6-2
Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) d [WC] Jason Kubler (AUS) 2-6 6-3 7-6(3) 4-6 7-6(8)
Matteo Arnaldi (ITA) d [WC] Adam Walton (AUS) 7-6(5) 6-2 6-4

Men’s singles, first round
[10] Alex de Minaur (AUS) v Milos Raonic (CAN)
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) v [WC] Marc Polmans (AUS)
Max Purcell (AUS) v [Q] Mate Valkusz (HUN)
Jordan Thompson (AUS) v Aleksandar Vukic (AUS)
Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) v Sebastian Ofner (AUT)
Rinky Hijikata (AUS) v [24] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER)
[WC] James Duckworth (AUS) v Luca Van Assche (FRA)
[WC] James McCabe (AUS) v Alex Michelsen (USA)
[Q] Omar Jasika (AUS) v [9] Hubert Hurkacz (POL)

Men’s singles, second round
Chris O’Connell (AUS) v TBC

> VIEW: Australian Open 2024 men’s singles draw

Women’s singles, first round
[WC] Kimberly Birrell (AUS) v [11] Jelena Ostapenko (LAT)
[WC] Olivia Gadecki (AUS) v Sloane Stephens (USA)
[WC] Daria Saville (AUS) v Magdalena Frech (POL)
[Q] Storm Hunter (AUS) v Sara Errani (ITA)
[WC] Taylah Preston (AUS) v [19] Elina Svitolina (UKR)
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) v Petra Martic (CRO)

> VIEW: Australian Open 2024 women’s singles draw

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