Alex de Minaur's draw at the Australian Open has opened up in a big way, with the Aussie's win over an injured Milos Raonic coming after 18th seed Nicolas Jarry crashed out in the first round. De Minaur's match-up with former World No.3 Raonic was touted as a danger game for the Aussie, and things appeared to be dire when the Canadian won the first set.
But de Minaur hung tough to claim the second, before Raonic retired hurt with a hip injury while down 0-2 in the third. The World No.10 will now play Matteo Arnaldi in the second round, and things have opened up for de Minaur to make a deep run at Melbourne Park.
Jarry had been looming as a third-round opponent for de Minaur, but the 18th seed crashed out in a shock five-set loss to Flavio Cobolli earlier on Monday. The match was flipped on its head deep in the fifth set when Jarry was hit with a rare point penalty because a ball had fallen out of his pocket during a rally.
The indiscretion would normally result in a point being replayed, but because it was the second time it occurred, Jarry was docked the point altogether. The big-hitting Croatian was serving at 5-6 and 30-0 when the bizarre sequence occurred, making the score 30-15.
In extraordinary scenes, Jarry didn't win another point as Cobolli won four straight to break serve and win the match 6-4 3-6 6-3 2-6 7-5, sparking raucous scenes of celebration. Jarry was filthy with himself over the wild meltdown, smashing his racquet on the court in anger.
Never seen anything like the ending to Cobolli-Jarry. Jarry was 30-0 up at 5-6 in the third set, then he received a point penalty after a ball fell out of his pocket for the second time in the match. Jarry then lost three points in a row and the match.
— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) January 15, 2024
Alex de Minaur's huge chance to make Australian Open run
The shock result means de Minaur isn't due to face a seeded player until the fourth round, where he could meet World No.5 Andrey Rublev or 29th seed Sebastian Korda. But neither of those players showed particularly impressive form in the first round and were both forced to five sets.
Rublev beat Thiago Seyboth Wild 7-5 6-4 3-6 4-6 7-6 (10-6), almost coughing up a two-set lead before prevailing in a super tiebreak. Korda also narrowly avoided disaster, beating Vit Kopriva 6-1 6-4 2-6 4-6 6-2.
Despite coughing up the first set to Raonic, de Minaur took plenty of positives from the match. The top-ranked Aussie had five aces in the second set, winning 93 per cent of his first serve points and going unbroken for the rest of the match.
"No matter what the situation is I stayed calm and collected," the 24-year-old said. "A five-set match means there's always a long way to go so it doesn't matter what you're position you're in, I believe in myself to change the situation.
"I do believe I lost the first set when I got tight but it's five sets so I told myself to recoup and start again for the second. As you saw I was chasing his serve for the better part of that match - guessing every now and again. I just focused on myself in the second set, had to restart and managed to jag a break out of the blue and change the momentum."
Other Aussies to advance to the second round on Monday were Storm Hunter, Alexei Popyrin and Jordan Thompson. Hunter claimed her first-ever singles victory in the Australian Open main draw, while Popyrin and Thompson both beat fellow Aussies - Marc Polmans and Aleksander Vukic. But it wasn't as good for Daria Saville, Tahlah Preston, James Duckworth, Rinky Hijikata or Omar Jasika, who all suffered losses.
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