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What we learned: Cressy climbs as veterans shine

  • Ravi Ubha

If Max Cressy caught the eye of the tennis world last year at the US Open, more eyeballs are on the French-born American during an impressive Australian summer.  

MORE: All the scores from Day 2 at AO 2022

Cressy is a throwback, playing a brand of tennis virtually extinct nowadays. He serves and volleys, looking to get into the net as much as possible in his opponent's service games too.

Cressy — who was a teammate at UCLA of Mackenzie Macdonald, Aslan Karatsev's next opponent — saved four match points to beat Pablo Carreno Busta in a fifth-set tiebreak in New York. 

He won't soon forget that day or when he faced another Spaniard — Rafael Nadal — in his first ATP final in Melbourne in the opening week of the 2022 campaign.

A dip that can often accompany such an achievement hasn't followed, with the world No.70 backing it up by reaching the quarterfinals in Sydney and then outlasting his fellow American — and incredible server — John Isner 7-6(2) 7-5 6-7(4) 6-7(4) 6-4 in four hours, 10 minutes on Tuesday. 

Aces? There were a few, as one would expect. Isner led 39-31. But Cressy saved all nine break points he encountered and went 2-for-7 on his own chances, including a conversion at 4-4 in the final set as Isner sent a forehand approach wide. 

Isner forced a fifth after saving three straight match points at 4-5 in the fourth — all with aces down the tee. 

If Cressy gets past qualifier Tomas Machac in the second round, he — like his opponent — features for the first time in a Grand Slam third round. 

Here's what else we learned on Day 2. 

The veterans can still do it 

Sam Stosur, 37, kept her singles career going by downing Robin Anderson at her home major in early play on Tuesday, but she wasn't the only veteran nearing 40 to pull off a victory.

The oldest man remaining in singles, Philipp Kohlschreiber, upended Marco Cecchinato 6-4 7-5 7-6(0). Kohlschreiber, 38, only lost seven points on first serve and wasn't broken against the Italian who beat Novak Djokovic as part of a surprise semifinal showing at 2018 Roland Garros. 

It marked the world No.134's first match since Indian Wells in October. 

"I didn't play a match I think for the last, what is it, three, four months," the German said in his press conference. 

"I'm of course very happy. What should I say? Was nice to be out. I've been here so many times."

Sixteen, to be precise. 

Kohlschreiber — who got married and played a match on the same day in 2018 — counts a trio of fourth rounds as his best showings at Melbourne Park. 

That includes in 2008, when he hit a century of winners to stun then world No.6 Andy Roddick in a night-time thriller at Rod Laver Arena. 

Richard Gasquet, appearing at the Australian Open for the first time since 2018, upset his French compatriot Ugo Humbert 3-6 7-6(4) 7-6(3) 6-3. 

The 35-year-old hung on deep in the third set and recovered from a break deficit in the fourth. 

Three more wins and Gasquet — injury-riddled in recent seasons — would land in the quarterfinals to complete his Grand Slam collection.

Saville believes in top 100 return

Who could forget Daria Saville's terrific sprints to the fourth round at the Australian Open in 2016 and 2017?

The Melbourne resident energised crowds with her game, and in equal measure charmed with her often humorous interviews. 

A longstanding Achilles and heel injury that required surgery limited Saville (nee Gavrilova) to just 14 matches since the start of 2020, but she said after a 6-2 6-3 loss to Rebecca Peterson that a top 100 return is a target this year. 

"I'm almost like unranked, so I've got to get back and grind and play some lower-ranked tournaments," Saville, a wildcard ranked 426, said. 

The former world No.20, who married Australian men's pro Luke Saville last month, summed up the plight of players returning from a lengthy injury. 

"My whole pre-season and like the last 12 months I've been preparing to get back on court and not so much preparing to be playing and winning tournaments," she said. 

"My preparation was like just doing a bit of rehab literally just to get back on the court, where now I'm like, ‘Okay, I'm back, I've done that, ticked that box.' 

"Now I'm going to be training to be playing tournaments and winning."

Saville was no doubt chuffed that her good pal and another 'Dasha', Kasatkina, won her first-round on Tuesday against Stefanie Voegele. 

Kindness wins

Roman Safiullin enjoyed his time with the Russian team during the ATP Cup, starring with US Open champion and long-time acquaintance Daniil Medvedev in doubles. 

Safiullin entered the Australian Open as a lucky loser following Casper Ruud's late withdrawal, and even though he lost to the fast-rising Alex Molcan, surely endeared himself to fans around the world. 

With Molcan floored by cramps after Safiullin missed a forehand wide on match point in a tight fourth-set tiebreak, Safiullin crossed the net to shake his opponent's hand and assist the Slovak to his feet. 

Safiullin duly received an extended ovation exiting Kia Arena.