Miami, Mar 26 (IANS): Former champion Hubert Hurkacz of Poland saved five match points en route to a memorable 6-7(10), 7-6(7), 7-6(6) victory against Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia in a three-hour, 31 minutes marathon in the Miami Open on Saturday evening.
The 26-year-old World No 9, who defeated Jannik Sinner in the final to win the 2021 Miami Open title, won his Round of 32 match, which has turned out to be the longest three-set match of 2023.
Hurkacz saved three match points in the second-set tie-break and another two in the final-set tie-break, ultimately finding a way to win after three hours and 31 minutes, marking the longest best-of-three match of the season.
The eighth seed saved the first three match points at 4/6, 5/6 and 6/7 in the second-set tie-break. On the first of those points, Kokkinakis jammed himself on a forehand volley right on top of the net, then missed forehands on the next two.
But perhaps the most jaw-dropping match point save came when the Australian served at 6/4 in the final-set tie-break. After missing his first serve, Kokkinakis delivered a slice second serve into the body and Hurkacz responded by deflecting the pace up the line for a return winner. The disbelief was clear on Kokkinakis' face.
Meanwhile, Felix Auger-Aliassime needed every ounce of his Top 10 experience to overcome the spirited Thiago Monteiro in another Round of 32 match.
The Canadian prevailed 7-6(5), 7-6(8) to down the Brazilian World No. 81 in a match that featured no breaks of serve. Auger-Aliassime let slip four match points in a dramatic second-set tie-break, but Monteiro pushed a volley wide on his fifth as the 22-year-old wrapped a hard-earned two-hour, 41-minute triumph in front of a raucous Grandstand crowd.
Fourth seed Daniil Medvedev breezed past Spain's Roberto Carballes Baena 6-1, 6-2; second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece advanced as he got a walkover from Richard Gasquet of France; Frances Tiafoe of the United States overcame Yosuke Watanuki of Japan 6-7(5), 7-6(3), 6-4 while 14th seed Karen Khachanov defeated Argentina's Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
In other matches, Quentin Halys of France stunned 15th seed Alex de Minaur of Australia 6-7(5), 7-6(3), 7-6(8), American qualifier Christopher Eubanks upset 17th seed Borna Coric of Croatia 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 and another qualifier Cristian Garin of Chile defeated Sebastian Baez of Argentina 7-6(2), 6-3.