Traralgon VIC 3844, Australia, 30 October 2015 | David Packman

Matthew Barton has taken less than an hour to continue his successful return to competition.

The New South Welshman registered a comfortable 6-3 6-2 victory over Kiwi Jose Statham to reach the semifinals of the 2015 Latrobe City Traralgon ATP Challenger on Friday.

“I felt like I was returning the ball pretty well today,” Barton said. “It was a bit surprising given I haven’t had much match play, but something just clicked.”

Despite being out of action since May after tearing ligaments in his ankle at an ATP Challenger event in Korea, the 23-year-old from Sydney has been in scintillating form this week, ousting fourth seed Luke Saville and Matt Reid in his previous matches.

“It’s been a pretty brutal process,” Barton said of the injury rehabilitation.

“To be honest, I’m just happy to be back on court. Hopefully I can just keep building from here and getting my fitness better.

“The ankle feels pretty good. Once it warms up, it’s all right. I’ve just got a to manage it a bit.”

Barton will now compete in his fifth ATP Challenger semifinal; he was also successful in winning a title in West Lakes in 2013.

“It’s really good to back at this kind of level again,” he said.

Opposing Barton will be top seed Matt Ebden, who dispatched in form sixth seed Li Zhe of China 6-4 6-4.

Lack of match fitness aside, Barton will draw some confidence from his straight sets victory over Ebden in their only previous meeting in the quarterfinals of the Burnie Challenger earlier this year.

The remaining semifinal will see second seed Jordan Thompson – who earlier edged out South Australian Alex Bolt in an exciting tussle 6-7(3) 6-2 7-6(4) – play third-seeded Brit Brydan Klein, who was too strong for Ben Mitchell, winning 6-1 6-2.

Mitchell was unable to continue his impressive run after vanquishing Marinko Matosevic in the opening round.

Klein now has the opportunity to surpass his best ever performance at Traralgon – he also reached the semifinals at the inaugural event in 2013 – but faces an in-form Thompson who will be looking to improve on his current career-high ranking of world No.164.

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