Melbourne, 25 January 2011 | Damien Terbiler
Last year’s junior runner-up Sean Berman made it through to the third round of the Boy’s Singles Championship with a hard fought victory Yaraslau Shyla of the Belarus 7-5 6-1.
Berman next faces top seed Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic in what should be a scorching encounter, given that both boys are in ominous form.
The first set went according to serve, until Shyla unexpectedly broke his more established opponent to lead 5-4. Throughout the entire set, Berman was the more erratic of the two, missing some routine backhands and occasionally over-hitting from the back of the court.
However, the gritty Australian found his game just when it mattered most, pressurising his opponent’s second serve and hitting with more spin and depth. Down break point, Shyla double faulted to equalise the match at 5-5, affording Berman the chance to re-establish himself in the first set.
The Melbournian capitalised after saving set point, taking the next two games from an increasingly brittle opponent.
In the following set, it was all Berman. Playing with some wicked power and precision, the 15th seed walked all over his opponent, dropping only a single game and looking dangerous as he marched into the next round.
No stranger to pressure, Berman has displayed an innate ability to handle his nerves at the toughest moments of a match. Asked about mental toughness, Berman insisted that his never-say-die attitude has allowed him to stay mentally focused in the tightest moments.
“It’s hard to say. I think I’ve always been fairly strong on that department. I don’t think it’s ever about giving up.”
In the past few weeks, Berman has worked rigorously to improve his game for the Open, training hard both on and off the court.
“I’ve just been working on my fitness and obviously my serve and just trying to fine tune the little things in my game, but nothing too drastic.”
Last year’s finalist maintained that his game is looking in good stead prior to the next round, but finds it difficult to compare the state of his game from last year to this year.
“I’ve been trying to think back and assess where I’m at compared with, but it’s almost impossible to compare the two. I just got to go out here and do the same thing I did last year, and play one point at a time and one match at a time. It’s just difficult to compare how I am playing now to a year ago.”
Berman will certainly get a better indication after his third match, which should be his toughest yet.