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Marathon Marvels: Thompson, Cressy and Seppi advance in sudden-death thrillers at US Open
Jordan, Maxime and Andreas all needed final-set tiebreakers and saved a combined nine match points on a wild Tuesday afternoon.
Published Sep 01, 2021
WATCH: Top seed Novak Djokovic will aim for a much shorter match against Holger Rune on Tuesday evening.
The second day of the 2021 US Open saw a trio of mid-afternoon marathon men emerge from their respective first-round clashes: Jordan Thompson, Maxime Cressy and Andreas Seppi each emerged victorious after fifth-set tiebreakers.
The format, wholly unique to the Open—it's the only Grand Slam that orders a conclusion of matches at 6-6 of the final set—brought the side-court crowds to their feet, on the ground, steel bleachers, or wherever space was found. In all, the men saved a combined nine match points, and battled for a total 11 hours and eight minutes between them.
Editor's Note: Hours later, Vasek Pospisil made it a quartet when he rallied from two sets and 4-1 down in the final set to up-end Fabio Fognini in a tiebreak triumph of his own, 2-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3, 7-6 (4). In three hours and 18 minutes, the Canadian electrified the Court 10 crowd with 44 winners and 24 aces, and will next face Winston-Salem champion Ilya Ivashka in the next round.
Here’s how they did it:
3hr, 30min: Jordan Thompson d. Gianluca Mager, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 2-6, 7-6 (3)
Thompson, who reached the round of 16 in Flushing Meadows last year, played the “quickest” match of the three but finished the latest, out on Court 15. The 27-year-old twice served to stay in the final set and hit 17 aces throughout the contest.
Trailing the Aussie by two sets to one, Mager, who won his first two Grand Slam main-draw matches at Roland Garros and Wimbledon this year, saved break points early in the fourth set before blitzing his way into a decider.
Thompson regained his footing in time for the tiebreaker, kicking off the first of four straight points won in the sudden-death format with a thudding backhand winner. Though Mager saved a match point with a backhand winner of his own—his 57th of the match—inconsistency proved his undoing, as a 72nd unforced error ended the match in Thompson’s favor.
Playing the cleaner match with 37 winners to 35 unforced errors, Thompson will next take on No. 21 seed Aslan Karatsev, who won his maiden US Open match earlier in the day over Jaume Munar in a tidy four sets.
3hr, 33min: Maxime Cressy d.  Pablo Carreño Busta, 7-5, 6-4, 1-6, 4-6, 7-6 (7)
On court three minutes longer than Thompson, the world No. 151 scored the upset of the day over two-time US Open semifinalist Pablo Carreño Busta, saving four match points to serve-and-volley his way over the finish line in front of an enthralled Court 5 crowd.
Born in Paris, the former NCAA doubles champion began playing for the United States in 2018 and has enjoyed his best results at the US Open, where he reached the second round last year.
Ranked just below his career-high ranking of No. 149, the 24-year-old nonetheless enjoyed the brighter start against the Spaniard, who is fresh off upsetting Novak Djokovic to win a bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Carreño Busta took back the third and fourth sets, forced Cressy to save the only two break points of the decider, and was in pole position to seal the comeback when he struck a flawless backhand pass to earn three match points.
Having rushed the net well over 90 times at that point, the American was understandably undaunted, serving-and-volleying to save the first two match points—and unnerving Carreño Busta into a double fault on the third. Another audacious approach saved a fourth match point—and at his first match-point opportunity, Cressy overwhelmed his more vaunted opponent off the forehand side to clinch the biggest win of his career.
In all, Cressy struck 44 winners and came to net a whopping 97 times—winning 64 of those points—and finished the match with a spellbinding 81 winners to just 35 unforced errors. Up next for the qualifier is Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili, who advanced when Cressy’s countryman Sebastian Korda retired due to a stomach illness.
4hr, 4min: Andreas Seppi d. Marton Fucsovics, 2-6, 7-5, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (13)
The War of 15-13 took the longest, but was well worth the wait for 37-year-old Andreas Seppi, as the Italian veteran saved five match points to outlast the Hungarian on Court 8.
A former world No. 18, Seppi often struggled in New York City even in the best of times; it is the only one of the four majors where he is yet to reach the second week. Fucsovics, who made his first major quarterfinal at Wimbledon earlier this summer, was in control early with a decisive opening set, only for the Italian to edge through a tight second.
The following two sets played out in similar fashion, as Seppi continued to win another close set before Fucsovics caught fire in the fourth, breaking serve two more times to force a fifth.
Rallying from 2-4 down, the world No. 41 outrallied the Italian to save a match point at 5-6, and soon had two of his own as the match reached its thrilling conclusion.
Loose errors leveled the 20-plus-minute tiebreaker, and nerves would come this war of attrition until Seppi earned his sixth match point, blasting the match away with an overhead.
Both men played a match to remember, with 82 winners between them and only 43 errors in total. Seppi’s years of experience ultimately paid off in the clutch, and earned him a second-round meeting with No. 10 seed and reigning Miami Open champion Hubert Hurkacz.