Melbourne, Australia, 17 January 2012 | AAP
Australia’s second-ranked men’s tennis player, Matthew Ebden, admits his rise has not been quite as meteoric as the nation’s teenaged No.1, Bernard Tomic, but he is confident it is far from over.
The 24-year-old South African-born West Australian notched his first main draw grand slam win on Tuesday, a composed 6-3 7-6 (7-1) 6-2 Australian Open victory over Brazil’s Joao Souza.
But in a sign of world No.94 Ebden’s belief about the direction his game is heading, rather than celebrate that achievement, he chose to view it as a stepping stone to bigger things.
“I’m not really overrating it too much,” Ebden said.
“I think it’s a good opener. I’m just, you know, getting ready for the rest of the tournament.
“Hopefully I can play my best tennis yet to come.
“I think I’ve shown, in the last year or two, I’ve shown myself and my team where I can belong in world tennis, the level I can play at. So we’re confident that I’m moving in the right direction.”
Ebden, who has Australian tennis legend Margaret Court as a mentor, has made a rapid rise up the rankings over the past two years, from No.331 two years ago to 183 a year ago, to his current berth inside the top 100.
But he said the past two years simply continued what had been a long, steady climb.
“It’s been a physical development, I think a mental and maturity development.” Ebden said.
“You know, I’m probably not as young as Bernie (Tomic). He’s obviously developing very young, which is excellent. I’m very happy that he’s doing that.
“But for me it’s taken a few years. I’m happy with where I’m at, and I’m confident with where I’m going.”
Ebden’s second-round opponent will be Japan’s 24th seed Kei Nishikori, who had a straight sets win over Frenchman Stephane Robert on Tuesday.