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Christopher O’Connell upsets Diego Schwartzman to reach the third round of the Australian Open.

High Tide: O'Connell Stuns Schwartzman

Aussie goes from cleaning boats to third round of the Australian Open

Australian wild card Christopher O’Connell scored the biggest win of his career on Thursday at his home Slam, upsetting 13th seed Diego Schwartzman in a 7-6(6), 6-4, 6-4 stunner.

Making his fourth appearance at the Australian Open, the World No. 175 is through to the third round at a major for the first time in six main-draw attempts.

"It's the biggest win of my career," O'Connell said. "To do it at the Australian Open, second round, it's an unbelievable feeling... It's the best feeling I've ever had on a tennis court. Been playing tennis since I was four. It's a dream come true."

A native of Sydney, the 27-year-old O’Connell worked cleaning boats for six months during an injury layoff in 2018. But he returned in 2019 with success on the ATP Challenger Tour before picking up his first major win at the 2020 US Open, where he lost to Daniil Medvedev in the second round.

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The Sydney native paid tribute to his coach, former pro Marinko Matosevic, with whom he has been working for the past 12 months. "The process didn't start yesterday. It's been happening all of last year,” O'Connell said. “I've been working with Marinko. He's just really confident with how I want to play tennis right now. It's the first time I've really had a one-on-one coach literally every day with me."

With a career-high ATP Ranking of No. 111 in 2020, O’Connell will again be the underdog in Round 3. But victory over World No. 70 Maxime Cressy would hardly qualify as a shock, with the American also competing in the third round of a Slam for the first time. He was a 6-1, 3-6, 7-6, 7-6(5) winner over Czech qualifier Tomas Machac in the second round.

After a slow start, O’Connell grew into the match with the help of a spirited Aussie crowd on Court 3. Over three hours and seven minutes, he kept the Argentine on the back foot in most rallies. Despite his superiority, the 27-year-old had to survive a tense finale as Schwartzman erased a break deficit in the third set.

Rather than slumping in the face of that disappointment, O’Connell rose to the occasion by winning the match’s last two games, sealing his progress with three clutch winners (of 44 for the match) and an unreturned ‘T’ serve on match point.

Unlikely at the start, the upset looked even more of a long-shot as Schwartzman served for the opening set. But O’Connell erased two set points and then recovered a mini-break in the tie-break to steal the opening stanza with a winner.

That got the Aussie crowd going, and their man raised his game as he found more success on offense in set two. Forcing the steady Schwartzman back behind the baseline, O’Connell dominated on serve and won the last 10 points of the set from deuce at 3-4.

Schwartzman was hanging on to start set three, saving three break points in the opening game. Full of confidence, O’Connell did not let his opponent off the hook in the third game of the set. Another winner secured his second break in three return games, his third of the match.

That set up a tense, eventful stretch run. The Australian saved a break point to hold for 4-2, but could not stop the dogged Schwartzman from closing to 4-all. Just when it seemed Schwartzman could turn things around, O’Connell found one final burst to get over the line.