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Williams Narrowly Misses Major Upset in Australia

Former Vol Rhyne Williams was knocking on the door of his first Grand Slam and top-50 victory but could not quite close the deal Tuesday at the Australian Open.

Williams held two match points in the fourth set but lost 2-6, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (12), 6-1 in the opening round to 25th-seeded Florian Mayer of Germany in the first round at Melbourne Park. 

In an epic 26-point tiebreaker in the fourth set, Williams created a pair of match points against Mayer but the veteran managed to get out of trouble and pulled away in the final set. It was Williams' first true five-set match. He had played a four setter against Tim Smyczek in December to win the USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoff.

John-Patrick Smith also played his opening round on Tuesday, losing to Portugal's Joao Sousa for the second time in two weeks. With the home crowd backing him, the Aussie wild card could not dig out of an early hole, losing 6-4, 6-1, 6-4.

Smith is still scheduled to play doubles this week with John Peers.

"It was a tough match ... it wasn't the game I wanted but it was still a great experience and something I can learn from," Smith told the AAP. "I didn't serve great but the good thing is I've still got doubles and mixed coming up so it's not the end of the world."


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