Thompson beats practice partner O'Connell

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  • Jordan Thompson
    American indoor volleyball player

Jordan Thompson has overcome a slow start to account for fellow Australian Chris O'Connell in the first round of the Australian Open warm-up tournament in Melbourne.

World No.75 Thompson looked like he had to shake off holiday malaise to secure a 1-6 7-5 6-4 over O'Connell, who is ranked 100 places lower.

The Sydneysiders are regular practice partners and O'Connell looked to have his mate's measure early on, requiring just 21 minutes to wrap up the first set.

But Thompson, who was forced to withdraw from last year's Australian Open first round with a neck injury, was able to come up with the goods in the clinch moments to secure the gripping victory.

He will face Finland's Emil Ruusuvuori in the ATP 250 tournament's second round.

Fellow Sydneysider Alexei Popyrin joined the party - and Thompson in the last 16 - with a spirited 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 win over Italian Stefano Travaglia.

At 61st in the world, Popyrin is the top-ranked Australian at the tournament.

He will play Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor next after overcoming a 3-0 second-set deficit and a medical time-out to have a foot injury treated to advance.

But the fine run of 20-year-old qualifier Rinky Hijikata - also from Sydney - came to end with a 6-3 6-0 loss to American Maxime Cressy.

It was a bleak day for Australia's women at the WTA event being staged simultaneously at Melbourne Park, with veteran Samantha Stosur, Astra Sharma, Lizette Cabrera and Destinee Aiava all crashing out.

Aiava provided Simona Halep a stern test early before the former world No.1 and two-times grand slam champion Simona Halep eventually notched a 6-4 6-2 win over the local qualifier.

Halep, troubled by a calf issue that forced her out of last year's French Open, Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics, showed no signs of the problem in her 78-minute stay on Rod Laver Arena.

Trailing 3-4 in the first set, the Romanian switched gears to take the next five games and powering to a second-round meeting with compatriot Elena-Gabriela Ruse.

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