Mitchell joins Aussie quarterfinalists in Traralgon
Gold Coast’s Ben Mitchell became the last of five Australian men to reach the quarterfinal stage at the Latrobe City Traralgon ATP Challenger on Thursday, saving a match point along the way.
Gold Coast’s Ben Mitchell became the last of five Australian men to reach the quarterfinal stage at the Latrobe City Traralgon ATP Challenger on Thursday, saving a match point before defeating in-form fellow Queenslander John Millman 6-2 1-6 7-6(6).
“I played really well in the first set,” Mitchell said. “Then I hit a bit of a rough patch and Johnny [Millman], as everyone knows, is a fighter.
“I urged myself to lift it back up again in the third and after that, we both just fought really hard.”
The deciding tiebreaker was highly entertaining with Mitchell taking an early lead and Millman pegging him back. An errant forehand from Mitchell at 5-5 brought up match point for Millman, but he was unable to capitalise, narrowly missing the knockout blow.
At 6-6, Mitchell forced an error with a powerful crosscourt backhand – arguably the shot of the day – and, after a solid return forced Millman to send the ball long, he claimed the win.
“It’s good to get that victory,” Mitchell said. “Johnny’s had some really good results lately.”
Reflecting on the final points of the match, Mitchell felt he was getting much better at performing well in pressure situations, admitting it was an area he was working on with his coach, but also seeing it as something that naturally improves with experience.
Mitchell continues to manage his return from a back injury and has his eyes set on the December Showdown, choosing to stay and play in Australia after Traralgon rather than follow the ATP Challenger tour to Japan and risk the extra strain of travel.
His quarterfinal opponent is Japanese fourth seed, Hiroki Moriya.
Thursday also saw South Australian fifth seed, Thanasi Kokkinakis, advance comfortably after dispatching the ACT’s Jake Eames in less than an hour, 6-1 6-1.
The win sets up a mouth-watering quarterfinal against American Jarmere Jenkins, who has not only collected the Cairns and Toowomba titles during the Australian Pro tour, but also defeated top seed Go Soeda in the opening round this week.
Second round action on the previous day saw Victorian wildcard Omar Jasika continue his impressive run, upsetting South Australian seventh seed Alex Bolt in straight sets. He will now meet second seed and last year’s runner-up Bradley Klahn in another enticing quarterfinal encounter.
The remaining quarterfinal is an all-Australian affair between sixth seed Luke Saville and John-Patrick Smith.