Melbourne Park, 16 December 2010 | Darren Saligari
Matt Ebden will meet top seed Peter Luczak in the AO Play-off semifinals on Saturday at Melbourne Park after coming back from a set down to defeat Sam Groth 2-6 6-4 6-2 in the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park on Thursday.
Groth used his rocket-like serve to propel him to a one set lead as Ebden worked his way into the match in the second.
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“Halfway through the second set I lifted my level a little bit and got the break and started playing a lot better on my service games,” said Ebden.
The increased intensity paid off as Ebden managed to break the formidable Groth serve and level the match at one set apiece.
Ebden continued strongly in the deciding set, opening with a break of serve to put Groth on the back foot as his frustration began to bubble towards the surface.
With break back opportunities on offer in the second game, Groth had his chances to level. But a missed half volley provoked Groth to reel off a selection of more appropriate shot options that coach Gavin Hopper would have no doubt preferred over the timid bunt into the net.
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Unfortunately for Groth, his frustration was set to reach new heights in the next game.
After missing a regulation backhand volley, Groth launched a ball out of Court 7 towards the city prompting a code violation from the umpire for ball abuse as Ebden secured a handy 3-0 advantage.
It was just the start that Ebden was hoping for.
“I started well in the third set and got on top early and to get the double break against a big server like that is obviously very big.”
Ebden’s confidence grew as he worked Groth out of the court allowing him to easily finish several points off at the net, eventually closing out the deciding set 6-2.
“I like to play all-court tennis, it’s always something I’m working on … These days you need everything because there’s so many different players out there so you need to be able to adapt to different opponents,” said Ebden.
And Ebden’s next opponent, Luczak, will be a very different proposition to Groth.
Ebden and Luczak have already committed to playing doubles together at the Australian Open but on Saturday they will oppose each other as they both work to secure their place in the singles main draw.
“I have so much respect for him as a role model and mentor. In the Davis Cup squad he’s helped me along here and there.”
“It’s hard [playing a friend] but at the same time we have such a lot of respect for each other, you’ve just gotta go out there and try to get the best out of each other and the best out of yourself and put it on the park and try and win.”
In the other men’s semi, Adam Feeney, who defeated James Duckworth in the quarterfinals 6-2 7-5, will meet second seed Marinko Matosevic, who ousted seventh seed Greg Jones 6-4 6-2, for a place in Sunday’s final.
Entry to Saturday’s semifinals and Sunday’s finals at Melbourne Park is free. Saturday’s semifinals will begin at 10 am. Tennis.com.au will be live streaming selected matches at http://live.tennis.com.au