Thanasi Kokkinakis has made the most of his lucky-loser reprieve to post a first-round win over Belgium’s Zizou Bergs at the Miami Open.
Kokkinakis on Wednesday lost his final qualifying tie against experienced Frenchman Benoit Paire at the ATP 1000 Masters event, but was promoted to the main draw alongside fellow countryman Chris O’Connell after several late withdrawals.
The world No.94 set up a second-round battle with Polish eighth seed Hubert Hurkacz by coming back strongly after dropping the first set on Thursday.
Kokkinakis saved three match points in a third-set tiebreak to dispose of wildcard Bergs 4-6 6-3 7-6 (9-7).
“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,” said Kokkinakis, who last week defeated Czech Top 50 player Jiri Lehecka in the Phoenix Challenger.
“My tennis is fine, it’s just my head. I’m just trying to give myself every chance.
‘I live to fight another day’
“The crowd got behind me and without them I wouldn’t have pulled through. I’m happy I live to fight another day.”
O’Connell was unable to follow suit, losing out to former world No.7 Richard Gasquet 6-4 3-6 6-1.
Gasquet’s reward is a showpiece second-round clash against second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The 32 seeded players, including Australia’s Alex de Minaur, received byes straight into the second round.
Fourth seed Daniil Medvedev will take on Roberto Carbellas Baena, who blew away his fellow Spaniard Bernabe Zapata Miralles 6-0 3-0 (retired).
The other two Australians in first-round action on Thursday faced a similar fate, with Jason Kubler and Jordan Thompson falling to Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro and Slovakia’s Alex Molcan respectively.
Monteiro will next face No.5 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, while Molcan takes on Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka.
World No.18 de Minaur gets his challenge underway against Quentin Halys of France.
He will be joined by fellow Aussie Alexei Popyrin, who faces No.26 seed Botic van de Zandschulp of the Netherlands.
Popyrin qualified after his first-round opponent Mikael Ymer retired when down 7-6 (7-5) 4-4 on Wednesday.