Jordan Thompson was left almost in disbelief after pulling off a US Open Houdini act at Flushing Meadows.
Thompson recovered from two sets to love down to defeat cramping Italian Lorenzo Sonego 2-6 6-1 6-2 6-4 6-4 and join fellow Australians Nick Kyrgios, Alex de Minaur and Ajla Tomljanovic in the second round.
The 27-year-old said he was ready to “go home and rethink my life” after dropping the opening two sets in barely an hour.
“I was very lucky to get through. It was one of the poorest starts I’ve ever had. It wasn’t good. I couldn’t hit the side of a truck,” Thompson said.
“I honestly didn’t think I was a chance of turning that match around.
“Down 6-2 6-1 in a flash – and honestly I was probably lucky to get those three games. Got broken first game and it was all a struggle.
“Then I was pretty lucky to break him in the first game of the third game and that got things rolling for me.”
Thompson said a “few choice words” fired him up as he found his groove while Sonego started to struggle physically.
Now that he is through, Thompson has a golden opportunity of progressing even further in the draw following the shock first-round exit of fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The Greek ace went down 6-0 6-1 3-6 7-5 to Colombian qualifier Daniel Elahl Galan, who is now Thompson’s unexpected second-round opponent.
“I just saw the result after the match,” Thompson, counting his lucky stars on that front too, said.
“Tsitsipas got me at Wimbledon quite convincingly so …”
Thompson’s best-ever grand slam run came in 2020 when he made the last 16.
If he beats Galan, he’s also guaranteed to play another unseeded rival for another spot in the fourth round – either Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina or Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics.