World No. 121 Christopher O'Connell was in great spirits after stunning 37th-ranked Jan-Lennard Struff in the first round at the Australian Open. O'Connell, who received a wildcard for the Australian Open, handed a straight-set defeat to Struff 7-6 (2) 7-6 (5) 6-1 to reach the second round at Melbourne Park for the first time in his career.
“That’s why we play tennis, to play Grand Slams,” O’Connell said after his breakthrough victory, as quoted on Tennis Australia “It’s just awesome. (An) unbelievable feeling”. O'Connell wasn't the favorite to beat Struff and he acknowledged that he thought it was a tough draw for him.
“I thought it was a pretty tough draw again,” O’Connell said. “But there could have been worse draws, there could have been easier draws. I mean, all matches are going to be tough no matter what player I get put up against.
I was fortunate enough to watch a little bit of him in the ATP Cup”.
O'Connell came up big in key moments
O'Connell dominated the first set tie-break as he took a 6-0 lead, before converting his third set point a few points later.
In the second set, O'Connell saved a set point on his serve in the 10th game, before realizing his third set point in the tie-break. "I just felt that my game lifted slightly,” O’Connell said of his strong finishes in the opening two sets.
“I just made a few more returns in the tiebreaks, both sets. Really that was the slight edge”. O'Connell claimed two breaks and lost no service games in the third set. "I felt like I just ran away with it a little bit in the third set,” O’Connell said.
O'Connell plays next against Radu Albot. “(I) still don’t think my best tennis has arrived yet,” O'Connell said. “It’s just taken me a longer time to figure out how to get these wins, feel confident out there, feel comfortable”.