Thanasi Kokkinakis, a lucky loser from qualifying who landed a spot in the Miami Open, extended his stay in the main draw on Thursday.
The 94th-ranked Australian saved three match points before emerging with a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7) win over Belgium’s Zizou Bergs in first-round action.
The players exchanged service breaks in the middle of the third set before ending up in a decisive tiebreaker. Bergs went up 6-4 before Kokkinakis pulled level, then had another chance to close the match at 7-6 before Kokkinakis claimed three points in a row to seal the victory.
“I’ve been feeling happy on court the past couple of weeks and made a pact with myself to at least compete, no matter how I’m feeling,” Kokkinakis said. “My tennis is fine; it’s just my head. I’m just trying to give myself every chance.
“The crowd got behind me, and without them I wouldn’t have pulled through. I’m happy I live to fight another day.”
Kokkinakis advances to a second-round matchup against eighth-seeded Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, who won the Miami Open two years ago. Hurkacz, like all of the tournament’s top 32 seeds, received a first-round bye.
The field is headed by No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz of Spain (the defending champion), No. 2 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, No. 3 Casper Ruud of Norway and No. 4 Daniil Medvedev of Russia.
Elsewhere on Thursday, Roberto Carballes Baena was pitching a shutout in an all-Spanish matchup before Bernabe Zapata Miralles retired while trailing 6-0, 3-0.
U.S. lucky loser Aleksandar Kovacevic earned a 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-1 win over Spain’s Jaume Munar.
Three qualifiers won: Christopher Eubanks prevailed in an all-U.S. match against Denis Kudla 7-6 (2), 6-2; Chile’s Cristian Garin edged the United States’ Marcos Giron 6-4, 2-6, 6-4; and Japan’s Yosuke Watanuki took an all-qualifier matchup against France’s Benoit Paire 6-4, 7-5.
Other first-round winners were France’s Gregoire Barrere, Argentina’s Tomas Martin Etcheverry, the Czech Republic’s Jiri Lehecka, the United States’ Mackenzie McDonald, Slovakia’s Alex Molcan, Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro, Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego and France’s Richard Gasquet, Quentin Halys and Adrian Mannarino.
–Field Level Media