Ebden, Smith qualify for US Open
On a fantastic Friday for Australia, Matt Ebden and John-Patrick Smith cruised to final-round qualifying victories to seal their places in the US Open main draw.
Australians Matt Ebden and John-Patrick Smith have sealed their spots in the main draw of the US Open with commanding victories in the final round of qualifying on Friday.
Ebden beat Great Britain’s Brydan Klein 6-3 6-3 in 91 minutes in warm, sunny conditions at Flushing Meadows, before Smith won 6-3 6-2 over Guilherme Clezar.
Their victories mean there are now nine Aussie men in the main draw of the year’s final Grand Slam event.
Ebden brought up match point with a backhand passing shot winner down the line, and although Klein saved it, Ebden gained a second with exactly the same shot and converted it on a Klein error.
“I played solid this week so far; I don’t feel I’ve played my best tennis yet, but I played well enough to get the win which is the aim so I’ve got to be happy with that,” Ebden said.
“I’ll rest up, have a bit of practice on the weekend, and come out and see if I can find my best tennis over the next couple of weeks.”
The result continues what has been an impressive four-month stretch for the 27-year-old.
Ranked as low as No.359 in April following an injury and illness-plagued 2014, Ebden has shot up to 130th and stands to rise even higher following his exploits in New York.
“It’s been the kind of year where I’ve had to win a lot of matches for myself and regain my ranking for entires into (tournaments),” he said.
“I just had to put myself in the trenches and fight (my way) out from them.”
It’s been a similarly productive period for Smith, who qualified for his first US Open draw just two months after doing so for the first time at Wimbledon.
In between, he reached the final of the Vancouver ATP Challenger event to push his ranking up to a career-high mark of No.121.
He scored match point against Clezar after the Brazilian double faulted, and sealed victory on the next point after just 70 minutes on court.
“The key thing was coming out strong … obviously the first set is always critical. I think it kind of sets the wheels in motion,” Smith said.
“(I think my recent success come from) committing more to my tennis. I have a lot of people who believe in me, and that really helps I think, having people push you and who always have your best interests at heart.
“It’s been really great and I’m really thankful to have those people around me.”
Update: Ebden faces a tough first-round battle against 17th seed Grigor Dimitrov, while Smith takes on Mikhail Youzhny.