Australian Matthew Ebden avoided a third-straight dramatic Australian Open fadeout on Monday, hanging tough in the deciding set to beat Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in the opening round at Melbourne Park.
Ebden’s previous two Open campaigns had ended with him squandering two-set leads and losing to Japan’s Kei Nishikori and Russian Mikhail Youzhny.
Monday’s clash on showcourt two appeared to be following a similar path when Mahut levelled at two sets apiece.
But the 26-year-old Ebden made the key break in the eighth game of the final set and then held serve to win 6-3 7-5 4-6 0-6 6-3 in a match lasting three hours and four minutes.
Mahut is no stranger to five-set cliffhangers, having lost to American John Isner at Wimbledon in 2010 in the longest match in grand slam history, an epic spread over three days that lasted more than 11 hours.