Smith storms into semifinals
UPDATE 5:50pm: John-Patrick Smith has advanced to the semifinals of the Australian Open 2015 Play-off with a straight-sets victory over 18-year-old wildcard Blake Mott.
John-Patrick Smith has advanced to the semifinals of the Australian Open 2015 Play-off with a clinical straight-sets victory over 18-year-old wildcard Blake Mott.
Smith, the second seed, won 6-2 6-4 6-3 to reach the semifinal stage of the Play-off for the third consecutive year.
He will attempt to win his way through to the final for the first time when he takes on fourth seed Ben Mitchell, who overcame No.6 seed Dane Propoggia in four sets in the quarterfinals.
“It’s killing me mate, I always seem to lose on a Friday,” he laughed about his semifinal record.
“So hopefully things might change (this year), fingers crossed … last couple of years have been devastating going back to Townsville (after) losing semifinals. Last year I had set points in the first set (against eventual champion Jordan Thompson) and didn’t take it and then I think I was up a break in the second as well and didn’t get that set either … hopefully this year I can take my opportunities.”
Smith certainly had no trouble doing just that on Wednesday at Melbourne Park.
An early break of serve helped the Queenslander skip to a 5-2 lead in the opening set, and thanks to several errors from Mott in the eighth game, Smith scored another break to pocket it.
He was frequently beating Mott from the back of the court; his ability to rip a powerful groundstroke and change up the pace of a rally proved too much for the teenager to handle.
Showing off his full repertoire of shots in the sixth game, Smith played a forcing return and then a short angled drop volley on his way to another service break. Frustrated, Mott belted a ball out of the court and received a code violation.
But this act seemed to sharpen his focus. Down 6-2 5-2, Mott cut the errors out of his game while managing to play aggressive tennis, and broke back in the ninth game. The second set had suddenly become a vastly more competitive affair.
That was until Smith wrested back control of proceedings, ripping a stunning forehand passing shot winner cross court on the run and breaking Mott in the very next game, cementing a two-sets-to-love lead.
The third set progressed on serve until the eighth game; again it was a Smith cross court passing shot that did the damage, this time off the backhand side and bringing up a break point. He eventually moved ahead 5-3 after more errors from the Mott racquet, the last of which came off a forehand that was initially called in before an overrule from the chair umpire.
Smith served out the victory in the very next game.
“(It was) pretty windy out there, from one end, so had to manage yourself down there,” he reflected.
“I knew (Mott) was a good competitor, very good backhand so I knew I had to be on my game serving wise. I think I probably dictated points more and got a lot of first serves in, so it was key for me today to serve well.”
Smith said he was looking forward to a showdown with Mitchell, who beat Smith in their last meeting at the recent ATP Challenger event in Traralgon.
Later on Wednesday, top seed Luke Saville and defending champion Jordan Thompson set up a tantalising semifinal clash.
Saville saw off No.8 seed Gavin Van Peperzeel in four sets, while Thompson was ruthless against 17-year-old Marc Polmans, surrendering just seven games in a straight sets victory.
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