MELBOURNE, Australia -- Mackenzie who?
Nearly all high-profile events have some semblance of unsung heroes, and the Aussie Open is no different. On Wednesday, American Mackenzie McDonald became that guy -- well almost anyway.
The 2016 NCAA champ while at UCLA battled No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov for 3 hours, 25 minutes before succumbing 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 0-6, 8-6 in 3 hours, 25 minutes in front of an energized crowd at Rod Laver Arena.
Here's what the 22-year-old from Los Angeles almost accomplished Wednesday night:
Almost became the first American man to take out a top-three seed Down Under since Andy Roddick in 2009.
Almost became the first American man to beat a top-three seed in the first two rounds of any Slam since Doug Flach (against Andre Agassi) at Wimbledon in 1996.
Almost won his first career five-setter.
Almost took home an extra $142,500, but that's just chump change, so no big deal.
After the match, Mackenzie walked off the court and waved to the fans, who were really behind the upstart who is sure to give U.S. tennis another reason to be excited for the future.
On Wednesday afternoon, the theme was "The Great Escape."
Who knows whether Caroline Wozniacki or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga have ever watched the classic 1963 movie set during World War II, starring Steve McQueen, but they each played out a real-life version of their own in somehow recovering from near-impossible scenarios.
First, an early exit beckoned for world No. 2 Wozniacki when she trailed Jana Fett 5-1 in the third set, facing two match points at 40-15 down. In an astounding turnaround, she eventually prevailed 3-6, 6-2, 7-5.
In her postmatch news conference, she admitted she feared her Grand Slam dream would end prematurely, again.
"I felt like I was one foot out of the tournament. She served a great serve down the T, as well. It was just slightly out. I was kind of lucky," Wozniacki said. "Then I felt her tighten up just slightly. I thought to myself, 'You know what, at this point, make her win it, don't give it to her.'
"When I managed to win it to 5-2, I said, 'OK, I'm still alive. She still has four more balls to win in a row or in the game.' I was like, 'Just try and stay aggressive.'
"That was that."
"Experience was crucial today... I've been out here so many times and knew how she'd feel."— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 17, 2018
The great escape!  @CaroWozniacki comes up big to register an incredible comeback and book her place in 3R. #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/AGboG5GDV0
Less than an hour later, fan favorite Tsonga pulled off a Houdini act of his own, twice coming from a set down to draw level with 18-year-old sensation Denis Shapovalov. Tsonga then trailed 5-2 in the decider but, like Wozniacki, found another gear to win five games on the spin and send the young Canadian packing in a 3-6, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (7-4), 7-5 triumph.
The popular Frenchman said it was a match neither player really deserved to lose.
"The most important for me, it's to fight, give my best on court until the last point," Tsonga said afterward. "That's what I did today. I think he deserved to win also today, but I was also courageous, and I did my job at the end. I played well. I think I deserve it, too."
"The most important for me, it's to fight, give my best on court until the last point. That's what I did today. I think he deserved to win also today, but I was also courageous & I did my job at the end. I played well. I think I deserve it, too."— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 17, 2018
- @tsonga7 #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/nYIjUpzTHE
The atmosphere inside Hisense Arena was electric as Kyrgios overpowered his opponent 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (2), with his home crowd fully supporting the 22-year-old despite a few issues that could have gotten him hot under the collar.
Kyrgios kept his cool despite being distracted by a heckler who stopped play early in the match, then later, when the courtside speakers weren't working correctly. If that wasn't enough, a helicopter was circling above his match and, finally, there was a moment toward the end of the match when the chair umpire got whacked in the head by a Troicki return.
"With the microphone, the whole atmosphere changed," Kyrgios said. "I kind of lost my rhythm a little bit. Yeah, I mean, I thought I dealt with everything pretty well."
Rewind almost a year ago and Marta Kostyuk was reveling after winning the girls' singles title at Melbourne.
Fast-forward to Wednesday at Margaret Court Arena and Kostyuk was again all smiles, but this time after advancing to the third round of the main women's draw by beating Australia's Olivia Rogowska 6-3, 7-5.
In doing so, the 15-year-old became the youngest player to reach the third round of a Grand Slam since Mirjana Lucic-Baroni's run at the 1997 US Open.
Kostyuk is the youngest to win a round at the Australian Open since Martina Hingis's quarterfinal run in 1996.
Kostyuk's on-court maturity helped her Wednesday, but if anyone was in any doubt as to her youthfulness, they only needed to hear parts of her postmatch news conference.
Q. Overall are you done with juniors now totally?
Kostyuk: Yes. Yes [smiling, fist pump].
Q. By getting through to the third round I think you're guaranteed about $142,000. As a 15-year-old, how do you envisage going from prize money so far of about $6,000 in total to getting a big lump sum today?
Kostyuk: Well, I already know a little bit where I'm going to spend this, but I didn't really think, because, you know, like some big investment or something. Now I'm still keeping money. It's like I got it and I go and spend.
Maybe I will get the presents for my family, first of all, of course. Because I have big family. And then for myself a bit. Yeah.
Meet Novak Palombo. A 5-year-old tennis ace from Melbourne who lived out a dream at the Australian Open when he met hero and namesake Novak Djokovic.
WHEN YOU GET TO MEET AND SPEND TIME WITH THE MAN YOU WERE NAMED AFTER = total delirium! And the crowd went nuts! @djokernole @djokernole.funpage @djokerdjokonole @djokovic_fan_ @novak_djokovicfan @novakfanclub 🤗🎾🤗🎾 #5yearsold #tennis #tennislove #tennisworld #juniortennis #instatennis #tennisplayer #tenniskids #tennispro #novakpalombo #instakids #kidstagram #tennisjunior #miniinfluencer #sport #tennislovers #australianopen #novakdjokovic #grandslam #ao2018 #nolefam #nole #djokovic #channel7 #tennispractise #djoker #djokernole #ausopen #lacoste #teamdjokovic @novak_srpska_fans
The name "Novak" was chosen by his mother who wanted to honor the Melbourne family's Serbian heritage.
Palombo first picked up a tennis racket at age 2. Keep an eye out for him at the 2030 Aussie Open!
But she did feature in one of the most striking photos from this year's tournament. Check out Getty Images photographer Scott Barbour's gorgeous picture:
Some 9,680 miles away from Melbourne Park, in Miami, former tennis star Anna Kournikova and husband Enrique Iglesias finally announced they had welcomed twins into the world.
Kournikova, a former Australian Open quarterfinalist, took to Instagram to share the first pictures of the couple's twins.
And finally, what would the Australian Open be without some cute local wildlife? Seventh seed David Goffin certainly seemed to appreciate a close-up encounter with a koala Wednesday.
Goffin's next match is on Thursday against world No. 57 Julien Benneteau.