Going into the men’s singles round one at the French Open the Australian contingent consisted of six automatic qualifiers, a wild card, and a qualifier.
After round one was played across the opening three days it was the qualifier, Jason Kubler that stood alone as a winner.
The draw treated Kubler kindly with the world no. 160 facing USA’s world no. 81 Denis Kudla.
Kubler was making his Roland Garros debut while Kudla was playing in his fifth French Open and he was searching for his first even win.
It was Kubler that would claim his first main draw win at Roland Garros after taking the match 7-6(5), 7-6(2), 7-6(3).
The first set didn’t see any breaks of serve and in the tie breaker it was Kudla at 5-3 who was looking likely to take the opening set. Kubler had other ideas and he won four straight points.
Kubler got the first break of the match in the fourth game of the second set to lead 3-1 before consolidating for a 4-1 advantage.
Kudla held for 2-4 before breaking his Australian opponent after a 15 minute game. Games then went with server before Kubler raced through the breaker to take a commanding two sets to nil lead.
In the third set it was Kudla that broke early before consolidated to lead 3-0. Kubler broke back in the fifth game for 2-3. Another Kubler hold and break and he was out to a 5-3 lead and looking set to win his first match at the French Open.
Kudla broke back in the 10th game before a few more service holds took the third set to another tie breaker.
The Australian raced out to a 6-1 lead, Kudla edged back to 3-6 before Kubler hit a winner to seal the match after three hours and 14 minutes.
Next up is Cameron Norrie the no. 10 seed. The Brit reached the third round in 2021 before losing to Rafael Nadal in straight sets.
Back at the end of March and in early April, Kubler was playing in two ITF M25 events in Canberra, which he claimed the title on both occasions. He then continued his clay court buildup in the USA playing in three ATP Challenger events before heading to Europe where Kubler reached the semifinals in a Challenger event in Zagreb.
Kokkinakis fails to take opportunities
Thanasi Kokkinakis got off to a bad start in his match against Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinalis when he was broken in the opening game.
Games then went with serve to see the Spaniard take the opening set.
The second set again saw the Spaniard break in the opening game however this time Kokkinakis was able to break back immediately to love.
Kokkinakis then held serve after a marathon game that last almost 13 minutes. A service break in the sixth game saw the Australian take a 4-2 lead but that was shortlived. Ramos-Vinalis broke back in the next game.
Kokkinakis broke in the 10th game to take the second set 6-4.
The world no. 44 from Spain broke in the third game then held for 3-1. Ramos-Vinalis broke for a 5-2 lead before the Australian hit back to serve at 3-5. He wasn’t able to break again and the Spaniard took the set 6-4.
Kokkinakis looked to take control of the fourth set when he broke in the eighth game to serve for the set at 5-3. An unforced error at 30-30 from Kokkinakis was followed by a winner from the Spaniard before another unforced from the Australian saw that opportunity slip away.
The set then went to a tiebreaker in which the Spaniard jumped out to a 4-1 lead on the back of two unforced errors and a double fault from the Australian.
Kokkinakis closed to 4-5 and 6-5 before a third winner from Ramos-Vinalis in the breaker sealed the match after four hours and seven minutes.
Thompson takes on Nadal on centre court
Jordan Thompson experienced the big time on Court Philippe-Chatrier when he faced the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal.
This was perhaps the Australians best opportunity to claim a win against Nadal as the 13 time French Open Champion had a disrupted clay court preparation due to injury.
Nadal proved to be a class above the world no. 82 taking the match 6-2, 6-2, 6-2.
de Minaur loses five set marathon to French hero
Australia’s top-ranked player Alex de Minaur lost in five sets to local hero Hugo Gaston.
Gaston excited locals fans in 2020 when he made a run to the Round of 16 at Roland Garros.
After taking the first set de Minaur lost the next two. The world no. 20 then stormed back to take the fourth set 6-0 and he jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the fifth.
You would have backed the Aussie from there. Gaston however had other ideas. Fighting back to level at 3-3. A pair of holds took it to 4-4 before four straight breaks took the match to a super tie break.
Gaston ran away with the breaker winning five straight points to close out the match in just under four hours.
Round one Australian men’s scores
- (19) Alex de Minaur Rd 1 lost to Hugo Gaston (FRA) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 0-6, 7-6(10/4).
- James Duckworth lost to Mikael Ymer (SWE) 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.
- Jordan Thompson lost to (5) Rafael Nadal (ESP) 6-2, 6-2, 6-2.
- Thanasi Kokkinakis lost to Albert Romos-Vinalis (ESP) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(5).
- John Millman lost to (27) Sebastian Korda (USA) 6-1, 7-5, 7-6(6).
- Alexei Popyrin lost to Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-4, 7-5, 6-4.
- (WC) Christopher O’Connell lost to Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 6-2, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-1.
- (Q) Jason Kubler d Denis Kudla (USA) 7-6(5), 7-6(2), 7-6(3). Rd 2 v (10) Cameron Norrie (GBR).