Melbourne Park, 8 December 2010 | Damian Terbiler
The boys’ Optus 18s Australian Championships continued today with almost all matches completed in the indoor courts at Melbourne Park.
Heavy rain forced the players under cover in the morning with matches only getting underway at 9:30 am. When the weather finally offered the players a brief window of sun, South Australian Luke Saville was able to demolish qualifier Simon Ede 6-1 6-3 in 51 minutes.
Photos: Optus 18s Australian Championships
Joining Saville as a winner in the Green round-robin group was Queenslander Maverick Banes, who rebounded impressively after losing a tight affair with Saville yesterday. Today, Banes refused to surrender to the flamboyant Luke Immanuel Harvey, edging him out in the first set 7-5 before running away with the second 6-1.
Banes said he is looking to “do well this week, and hopefully get a wildcard into the Australian Open Wildcard Play-off next week”.
Top seed James Duckworth was perhaps even more clinical than Banes, downing Andrew Harris 6-2 6-3 in just over an hour.
Despite his relatively convincing win, Duckworth offered nothing but praise for his younger opponent, acknowledging that “he hits a pretty good ball [and] in a couple of years he’ll be pretty good”.
When asked about his top billing and the expectations that surround him during the tournament, Duckworth insisted that he keeps a level head.
“I’m not really putting any pressure on myself, I’m just looking to play the best I can and do as well as I can.”
The other match in the Blue group featured the seventh seed Ben Wagland and Queenslander Mark Richards. The pair kicked off their match on the outside courts with Richards handling the conditions far better than his higher ranked opponent, taking the first set 6-2.
However, the move indoors proved pivotal for Wagland, who stated “he was on top of me until the rain break … I was lucky that we got to go inside”. Such luck resulted in the Sydneysider storming back to take the next two sets 6-3 6-2.
Moving into the quarterfinals alongside Wagland will be 15-year old Nicholas Kyrgios, who continued his impressive yet unexpected run to the quarterfinals. Today, the youngster accounted for Jarryd Chaplin 3-6 6-4 6-1 in just under two hours.
Also advancing to the quarterfinals was fourth seed South Australian Alexander Bolt, who proved too good for sixth seed Andrew McLeod in their second meeting in as many weeks.
After losing the first set 6-3, McLeod put up a brave fight in the second and saved an array of break points at 4-4 to go up 5-4. Yet once the two reached the tiebreak, Bolt was the more solid player, overcoming an early deficit to snatch the breaker 7-4.
A recipient of a full scholarship to join the elite AIS Pro Tour Program, Bolt made the move to Canberra earlier this year from his home in South Australia. He recalls that it was certainly a tough move “at first” but that he later became accustomed to the new surroundings.
Another winner today was Sean Berman, the second-seeded Melburnian overcoming a rough opening set to eventually weather the storm from eighth seed Jack Schipanski 4-6 6-2 6-4. Berman was a semifinalist in the event last year, and looks set to repeat his run.
Rounding off today’s winners was Andrew Whittington, who beat vocal Sydneysider Jordan Thompson 6-7 6-3 6-3. In a match that featured its share of drama, Whittington’s resolve was critical in his win, as he fended off break points at 4-3 in the final set against his younger opponent.
Tomorrow’s quarterfinals should not disappoint, with the level of tennis elevating daily.
Draws and scores
18s boys’ singles draws and scores
18s girls’ singles draws and scores
18s boys’ doubles draws and scores
18s girls’ doubles draws and scores