Aussies claim huge scalps at Queen's Club
JORDAN Thompson and Thanasi Kokkinakis have gate-crashed the Queen's Club party on a red-letter day for Australian tennis, putting world No 1 Andy Murray and Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic to the sword with two epic upsets.
Thompson downed reigning Wimbledon and Queen's Club champion Murray 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 after Kokkinakis eclipsed third seed Raonic 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (10-8).
A lucky loser, world No 90 Thompson was beaten in the final round of qualifying by Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.
He earned a reprieve after Murray's original opponent Aljaz Bedene succumbed to a wrist injury and withdrew.
As the highest-ranked loser in the final round of qualifying, Thompson was given a second chance - and he took it with both hands against a strangely passive Murray.
"Andy is the world No 1 and I have looked up to him so to be playing him at Queen's is huge and it is definitely the biggest win of my career,” Thompson said.
"I just took each point at a time and I didn't expect to win here in straight sets and I just wanted to enjoy myself and stay calm.
"I think I did that pretty well.”
Thompson, 23, received a phone call at lunchtime, telling him he was back in the draw.
"I was hoping to get a game, I was coming in and signing in and hoping for the best,” he said.
"After today's performance anything can happen now, but I am not counting on it.”
In a throwback to halcyon days when lowly-ranked Australians were routinely dangerous floaters for high seeds on grass, Thompson and Kokkinakis turned the Wimbledon prelude on its head.
And with Feliciano Lopez's 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 upset of Stan Wawrinka, Queen's Club's top three seeds capitulated in blazing heat.
Murray had never lost to an Australian in a rankings point match.
Thompson and Kokkinakis, 21, had never previously beaten top-10 opponents - until today.
And with Bernard Tomic's 6-4 6-4 victory in Halle over former world No 2 Tommy Haas - Roger Federer's conqueror in Stuttgart last week - the gloom over Nick Kyrgios' hip injury lifted.
Kyrgios was courtside as Kokkinakis exulted in the biggest - and most satisfying - victory of his career.
Sidelined for virtually all of last year after shoulder surgery and much of this season with groin problems, Kokkinakis jubilated in a magnificent win.
"It's everything. This match was huge for me,” Kokkinakis said.
"To be out of the game so long, first top-10 win and to do it on a court like this.
"This is huge for me I'm so excited.
"I'm trying to look forward, it has been brutal I am trying to get myself going week by week it was almost that was 22 months out of the game or something crazy like that.
" I can't wait to play my next round. It was a bit ugly in that first set but I am happy with the win.
"I was shaking in my boots, don't worry about that.
"I had the chance I got a bit lucky with him at 6-3 it's usually game over, got a bit lucky and trust me I was tight on the last point but i was like 'F' it, I'm going for it.”
Playing with a protected injury ranking of No 69 after being off the scene for so long, Kokkinakis went into the match actually ranked No 798.
With 15 aces to Raonic's 18, Kokkinakis was elated after clinch a tense affair after saving three set points in the second set,
Neither player held a break point and it was Kokkinakis who was steadier and more aggressive in the tiebreaks - twice recovering from mini-breaks in the second set breaker.
The South Australian will next play either Russia's Danii Medvedev or French veteran Nicolas Mahut.
Thompson was inspired from the outset against a passive Murray, who had won his past 17 matches in the English capital.
The Sydneysider delivered on Lleyton Hewiitt's contention that he is a top-30 calibre player to torment the sullen Scot.
He was simply too solid for a man whose game is based on consistency.
Thompson will next play American beanpole Sam Querrey.