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Christ O'Connell of Australia celebrates after defeating Diego Schwartzman of Argentina in their second round match at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia. Image Credit: AP

Melbourne: Wildcard entrant Chris O’Connell credited coach Marinko Matosevic for his run to the third round of the Australian Open today after the world number 175 toppled 13th seed Diego Schwartzman.

On a good day at Melbourne Park for Australia, Sydney-born O’Connell defeated the Argentinian 7-6 (6) 6-4 to move beyond the second round at a Grand Slam for the first time and set up a meeting with American Maxime Cressy.

“The process didn’t start yesterday,” said O’Connell. “It’s been happening all of last year. I’ve been working with Marinko. He’s just really confident with how I want to play tennis now. It’s the first time I’ve really had a one-on-one coach literally every day with me. Marinko was such a great player. All his knowledge of the game, he’s just putting it onto me.”

O’Connell claimed a marathon first set against the world number 13 in a tiebreak before wrapping up the win in three hours and seven minutes to surpass his previous best at the Australian Open.

The 27-year-old reached the second round last year after first round exits in 2017 and 2020 while his previous best Grand Slam performance outside Australia came with a run to the second round at the 2020 U.S. Open.

“I knew I had good results in me,” he said. “It’s just being consistent. I felt today was a consistent match from me. I maintained the level throughout the whole match.” Because of his low ranking, O’Connell received a wildcard for this year’s tournament from Tennis Australia and his progress to the third round will earn a career-high A$600,000.

“I’m thankful to Tennis Australia for giving me the opportunity to be in the third round now,” he said. “If it wasn’t for them, I’d be playing qualifying.

Good team

“That money is just going to go straight back into my tennis, keep investing in my coach Marinko. It’s just all going to go into my tennis. I feel like I’ve got a good team with me now.”

Later, O’Connell’s fellow Australian Alex de Minaur notched up a 6-4 6-4 6-2 win over Kamil Majchrzak to also advance to the third round.

“I’m very happy, especially to get my first win on Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open,” said the 32nd seed.

“Very happy to be able to play on such an amazing court in front of my home fans. I’m just enjoying every second of it, just keeping these positive vibes going.”