Alex de Minaur has gone some way to salvaging a day of carnage for Australia at the US Open after Thanasi Kokkinakis, Jordan Thompson, Jason Kubler, Aleksander Vukic and Max Purcell all crashed out in the first round on Wednesday (Aussie time). De Minaur, the World No.14 and Australia's highest-ranked player, came back from a second-set stumble to beat Timofey Skatov 6-2 3-6 6-1 7-5.
After dropping the second set, de Minaur found another gear to race through the third and then charge to a 5-2 lead in the fourth. He was broken while trying to serve out the match at 5-3, and the 13th seed needed to dig deep to avoid being pushed to a decider.
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However Kokkinakis was no match for Yu Hsiou Hsu of Taiwan, going down 3-6 4-6 6-3 3-6 in a disappointing result for the World No.78. At World No.237, Hsu is ranked 159 places lower than Kokkinakis. It will be a bitter exit for the Aussie star considering his record at grand slam level. He has now lost in the first round in four of his last eight appearances at majors.
Kokkinakis joined the Aussie carnage on the second day at Flushing Meadows, with Vukic losing 4-6 4-6 4-6 to German 12th seed Alexander Zverev. James Duckworth, who entered the main draw as a 'lucky loser' from qualifying, lost 4-6 6-7 (11-13) 3-6 to Felipe Meligeni Alvez of Brazil.
Kubler and Thompson were both forced to retire hurt in brutal scenes. Kubler was trailing Italian Matteo Arnaldo 3-6 0-1 when he called it quits, while Thompson had just lost the first set 3-6 to Botic van de Zandschulp when he pulled the pin due to an ankle problem. Thompson fell heavily after appearing to roll his ankle. He called the trainer but opted not to continue after losing the first set.
Chris O'Connell beats Max Purcell in all-Aussie showdown
And although Purcell also went down, his loss came at the hands of fellow Aussie Chris O'Connell. Purcell has been in red-hot form of late and recently surged to a career-high ranking of World No.43. He reached his maiden ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final in Cincinnati last week, but O'Connell prevailed 6-4 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-5) in a two-hour, 52-minute battle between the two in-form Sydneysiders.
O'Connell is also enjoying a breakout season, with the 29-year-old now projected to climb to a career-high mark of No.61 in the world after also making the last 32 at Wimbledon. O'Connell's reward is a showdown with former World No.1 Daniil Medvedev in the second round.
"I know Max really well, I've known him since he was eight," O'Connell said. "I've seen him develop over the years and of late he has been playing some unbelievable tennis.
"There's a load of Australians in the top 100 at the moment, a lot of Australians playing slams so you are bound to draw one now and then. Unfortunately I drew Max but at the same time you look at it there's going to be an Australian through to the second round and that is always a positive.
"So once the first point is played I just feel all that goes out the window. I just look across the net and he is just another tennis player from my point of view."
Amidst the carnage for Australian tennis, Kokkinakis came in for some heavy criticism from fans.
Kokkinakis has now lost in the First Round 4 out of the last 8 Slams and lost in the First Round of Qualies for Wimbledon. So not really wow tbh https://t.co/QOcUpU4rRS
— @dangerkl was suspended 😔😔 (@dangerkll) August 29, 2023
I was not expecting this. Did anyone watch the game? Was Thanasi just off, or was Hsu playing well?
— Bruno Fernandes enjoyer (@Nadal_istheGOAT) August 29, 2023
He got thrashed. Wasn’t even close. So embarrassing
— tomandgregfolyfe (@disgustingbro1) August 29, 2023
In one of the more shocking upsets today, Thanasi Kokkinakis loses in 4 sets to Yu Hsu (ranked #237 in the world)
— GrandSlamTennis (@GSTennis24) August 29, 2023
Kokkinakis just doesn’t care anymore haha. Not even going after gettable balls.
Hsu with the upset.
— Crazy Carl (@crazycarl2000) August 29, 2023
How the hell is Kokkinakis down 2 sets?!?
— PityPartyNextDoor (@FriendzoneLayer) August 29, 2023
Tough day at the office for the Aussies contingent at the US Open…. Not sure why 🥲 felt some of the guys were in good form….
— Art of Tennis (@Thanos14881619) August 29, 2023
Chris O'Connell to face Daniil Medvedev at US Open
Medvedev conceded only two games in a 6-1 6-1 6-0 thrashing of hapless Hungarian Attila Balazs. But the 2021 US Open champion holds no fears for O'Connell ahead of their show-court match-up on Friday (Aussie time).
"That's going to be exciting," O'Connell said. "We had a tight battle this year in Doha, I feel I've got a good game style to maybe cause him some trouble. It was very close in Doha.
"I am sure he has a good idea of what I am going to bring and I'm going to play similar to how I did in Doha. But he is a top, top player so I am sure he is probably going to change a little bit from that match."
Australia boasted a 15-strong contingent heading into the US Open, but Kokkinakis, Thompson, Purcell, Kubler, Duckworth and Vukic joined Alexei Popyrin, Kim Birrell, Olivia Gadecki and Storm Hunter in crashing out in the first round. Ajla Tomljanovic, Daria Saville and Rinky Hijikata managed to advance to the second round on the opening day.
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