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January 18, 2022

Christopher O'Connell

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

C. O'CONNELL/H. Gaston

7-6, 6-0, 4-6, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Must be great to get off to a winning start at the Australian Open.

CHRISTOPHER O'CONNELL: Yeah, super happy. Trained hard over December. Yeah, it feels good that it's paid off.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You had some very good results here over the last couple of years. What is it about the Open that makes you feel so comfortable besides it being at home?

CHRISTOPHER O'CONNELL: Yeah, I guess it's my favorite surface, playing on the blue hard courts. The conditions up in Sydney where I train are pretty similar to Melbourne Park. I really feel at home once I get down here, yeah.

Q. Did you think you were going to get a wild card? Pretty tight battle there.

CHRISTOPHER O'CONNELL: Yeah, I mean, you shouldn't expect a wild card. Last year I had some good results, but I was injured quite a lot so my ranking slipped a bit. A lot of good options.

I mean, yeah, I was thankful that I got it in the end.

Q. Tell us about the injuries last year and backing up.

CHRISTOPHER O'CONNELL: Yeah, when I was playing last year, I was playing really good tennis, I had good results. I had a couple months off at the start of the year with an ankle injury. Then towards the end of the year I developed osteitis pubis, which is a bit of a nasty injury. That put me out for two months.

My very first tournament back I caught COVID, which has knocked me around for a little bit. Yeah, that was my year. Good results and injuries and sickness.

Q. Do you feel like you're playing at a similar level...

CHRISTOPHER O'CONNELL: Yeah. I had a really good December. Not too much time at home. Only four weeks of good training. I trained a lot with Vukic in Sydney.

Yeah, I knew I was playing some good tennis. Yeah, I'm just happy that I showed it today.

Q. The third set you were up a break. How do you mentally stay in the game after losing that third set? A mental battle?

CHRISTOPHER O'CONNELL: Yeah, I mean, the finish line was very close. I was up 3-1. Yeah, he just hung around. I played a few scrappy games. I was struggling a little bit one end with the sun, a little bit windy.

I back my mental state on court. Yeah, I just knew I had to regroup. If I regrouped then I could, yeah, take the momentum. Yeah, that's what happened.

Q. Did you have friends and family for the match?

CHRISTOPHER O'CONNELL: Yeah, I've got a big support crew this year. My whole family came down. My girlfriend is with me. A few family friends. It's good to have them watch.

Q. (Question about crowd numbers.)

CHRISTOPHER O'CONNELL: Yeah, I mean, I didn't really feel that out there. I had good support. It doesn't really affect me that much. I've played plenty of tournaments throughout the year where there's not too many people in the crowd.

But, yeah, I felt that my match had quite a good crowd presence, so had really good support out there.

Q. Vukic is going to play Albot. Has he spoken to you yet?

CHRISTOPHER O'CONNELL: Yeah, we've spoken. Just before actually.

Q. What did you tell him?

CHRISTOPHER O'CONNELL: Good luck firstly (smiling).

Yeah, no, he's playing really good tennis. I mean, I see it every day. I train with him. He's a really good training partner. He played unbelievable in his first-round match. Didn't get to watch too much of it.

Yeah, he's got a really good chance.

Q. When you got the COVID, were you in the group of the Australian boys before the US Open?

CHRISTOPHER O'CONNELL: No, no. I got it around October, I don't know, in Italy or Belgrade. I don't really know.

Q. Last year you were working with Marinko Matosevic are you still working together?

CHRISTOPHER O'CONNELL: Yeah. I started working with him in March, April last year. Yeah, we've been together all of last year. We're starting off again this year. That's been really good. He's helped my game a lot.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to get on court that much last year. Hopefully I can be 100% healthy this year, yeah, have some good results.

Yeah, he's been awesome for my game.

Q. Big opponent coming up, Diego Schwartzman. What do you make of that matchup?

CHRISTOPHER O'CONNELL: Yeah, it's a good matchup. Obviously he's an amazing player, makes a million balls. I'm going to have to play my best tennis.

Yeah, I'm confident. Really looking forward to it.

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