Jordan Thompson was only part of the support cast as Australia’s men went on a winning rampage at Wimbledon – but next time up, he’ll be in the spotlight against Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Thompson led a parade of four Aussie men’s winners at SW19 on Tuesday along with Jason Kubler, Alex de Minaur and Nick Kyrgios.
And though his 6-4 6-1 6-1 victory over Spanish clay-court specialist Roberto Carballes Baena was probably the lowest-key among the quartet, his next assignment certainly won’t be when he meets the Greek superstar, No.4 seed Tsitsipas.
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“It’d be hard not to get up for a match like that at Wimbledon against a top-five seed in the second round,” smiled Thompson, before Tsitsipas had finally negotiated a tough opener against Swiss qualifier Alexander Ritschard 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 5-7 6-4.
Asked if he allowed himself a big dream at Wimbledon, Thompson said: “Not really. One match at a time, I think – yeah, too lazy to dream.”
The Sydneysider, whose brilliant form on English lawns has already brought him one pre-Wimbledon tournament triumph and earned him a place in another a week later, is also on a potential collision course with his great friend and hitting partner, Kyrgios, in the third round.
“Tsitsipas, who’s been in the top 10 for ages, and the potential to play Nick in the third round if I can get through that … so it really doesn’t get any easier,” Thompson said.
“I’ve got a tough draw but I think grass is such a leveller. I made the third round last year and, hopefully, I can go a little bit better this year – but it’s a tough one.”
While Kyrgios was getting embroiled in a familiar war with the world during his fiery five-set triumph over Briton Paul Jubb, Thompson, whose temper can be pretty combustible on his day too, was all business as he swept aside Spain’s world No.87 in one hour, 43 minutes.
Earlier, national No.1 Alex de Minaur, the No.19 seed, eased to a 6-1 6-3 7-5 win over Bolivian Hugo Dellien on No.1 court.
Then the Australian performance of the day came late on when qualifier Jason Kubler continued his unlikely heroics by knocking out Britain’s No.28 seed Dan Evans 6-1 6-4 6-3.
But there was only the most bitter disappointment for another of Thompson’s Sydney friends, Alexei Popyrin, left a picture of misery after losing 6-2 4-6 0-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 to unorthodox French leftie Hugo Gaston.
Popyrin was serving for the match at 5-3 in the fourth set when Gaston, who put paid to de Minaur’s chances at the French Open, came up with one of his inspired games to break.
That proved his launch pad to fight back and win after just under three-and-a-quarter hours.
Popyrin sounded emotional, musing: “To lose like this was tough and I haven’t experienced this at such a high level, serving for the match and not closing it out.
“But my coach was telling me Federer was 40-15 up, serving for the Wimbledon title against Djokovic, so I have to learn from it and I’ll come back from it and react a bit better if that ever happens again.”