Melbourne Park, 12 December 2012 | Jaclyn Stacey

Second seed John-Patrick Smith triumphed in an intense four-set battle against Greg Jones 6-4 3-6 7-6(6) 6-4 in over three hours on Court 6.

With heat a factor in performances today, Smith was impressive in his ability to remain unaffected, looking focused and calm throughout the difficult encounter against his formidable opponent.

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Smith started the match well, breaking Jones in the first game and holding to a 2-0 lead. Jones then held serve before playing a remarkable game on Smith’s serve, aggressively playing each ball and breaking back to level at 2-2. Smith immediately broke back, matching Jones’ attacking style and holding his next service game to lead 4-2.

Smith managed to maintain the break and after some easy service games from both players, served the set out 6-4.

Jones began the second set with renewed intensity and looked the more motivated player, and on his third break point opportunity in the second game, sent a beautiful forehand down the line to take a 2-0 lead.

He had another opportunity to break at 30-40 on Smith’s next service game, however, the Townsville native managed to save the break and win the game to get himself on the board in the second set 3-1.

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Smith again had to serve himself out of trouble down two set points at 2-5 and 15-40, saving one with an ace and the other with a strong first serve, forcing Jones to serve for the set, which he did easily 6-4, levelling the match at one set a piece.

The players swapped breaks early in the third set before settling into a rhythm of holding serves, remaining evenly matched for the remainder of the set. Smith appeared the more calm and composed player, whereas Jones played with more passion, vocalising his emotions more, and showing everyone watching just how badly he wanted to win.

With neither player able to get ahead, a tiebreak was needed to decide the set. Jones led early before Smith was able to get ahead and at 7-6 and serving, hit a strong serve that Jones couldn’t return effectively to claim the set 7-6(6).

The fourth set began in a similar vein as the entire third set, with neither playing giving an inch and the set sitting level at 3-3.

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With the encounter stretching close to the three hour mark, fatigue seemed to settle into Jones’ game and it was Smith who appeared the fresher of the two, wasting no time at the change of ends, jumping around and eager for play before the umpire called time.

Smith used this energy to his advantage, sealing a break to go ahead 4-3 and eventually claiming the match 6-4.

Talking after the match, Smith was happy to get the win in difficult conditions.

“It was a tough match today, Greg is a tough opponent and he’s been top 200 before so obviously he’s got a lot of experience and he played here last year, so for me it was just trying to maintain my depth and taking care of my service games.”

It was an impressive win for Smith, who before today had never played a best of five sets match, having spent the past four years in the US on a scholarship at the University of Tennessee.

Smith’s decision to study in the US and play on the college circuit meant he had to delay turning pro until after graduating, and when asked whether this was a good career decision his response is a resounding yes.

“It was the best decision of my career. I’ve finished uni so I really haven’t got any hesitations about putting all into my tennis now and not have to worry about going back and finishing school or worrying about what I’m going to do after tennis, so I’ve already got that set up so it’s good to get that off my back.”

In the semifinals Smith will play third seed Matt Reid, who this afternoon took out young gun Luke Saville in straight sets.

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