Fourlis, Myers to battle for AO wildcard
After Jaimee Fourlis advanced to the AO Play-off final with a straight-sets defeat of Olivia Tjandramulia, Abbie Myers beat Alison Bai in a gritty three-setter in the second semifinal.
Jaimee Fourlis produced an impressive display of athletic power tennis on Saturday at Melbourne Park to move through to the Australian Open Play-off final.
Fourlis, 17, beat Olivia Tjandramulia 7-5 6-2 and now stands one win away from the main draw of Australian Open 2017.
She will battle for an AO wildcard against Abbie Myers, who came through a tough three-setter against second seed Alison Bai.
Myers’ 6-3 4-6 6-4 win was her first ever victory over Bai in four attempts.
“That would be a pretty awesome feeling. That’s everyone’s goal, everyone’s dream, to play a Grand Slam,” Fourlis said of the upcoming final.
“And to do it this way – if I won it – that would be even better, it would be awesome.”
It’s been a brilliant December Showdown for Fourlis, who also reached the final of the 18/u Australian Championships before going down to Destanee Aiava.
The Victorian has won eight of nine matches across the two events this fortnight at Melbourne Park.
“That was a really tough match today. Credit to Olivia – she played some really good tennis,” Fourlis said.
Indeed, after Fourlis established a 3-0 lead in the opening set, Tjandramulia – who in the previous round upset top seed Arina Rodionova – roared back to win five games in a row.
But in a match of ebbs and flows, it was Fourlis who wrenched back control when it mattered most, dominating once again with her forehand and extracting some errors from Tjandramulia to take the opening set.
Fourlis was the superior player in the second, scoring an early service break which she would not surrender.
She made it two breaks in the seventh game, and when serving for the match at 5-2, she struck two winners and an ace before clinching the win on her first match point.
“I just didn’t really think (at that point). I just thought ‘stay in the present’. I was 5-2 up, that was awesome. Didn’t actually think it was an ace – I didn’t think I hit it that cleanly until it went past her,” she laughed.
“I think just over time, I’m just continually thinking about (that mentality). All of the people I have in my team, they help me (with that), my coach Beti is really big on staying in the present.
“(They key is) just trying to be positive and take it one point at a time and I think that’s when I think I play my best tennis.”
Later on Saturday, Myers and Bai battled for two hours and 11 minutes before Myers finally closed out a tense final game.
Her heavy groundstrokes forced errors from Bai in the previous game to hand her a 5-4 lead in the final set.
But when serving for the match, it was a mental battle – two errors and a double fault from Myers gifted Bai two break points at 15-40, which Myers saved with a pair of forehand winners. A double fault followed for a third break point, but eventually Myers escaped.
It is the furthest the 22-year-old world No.600 has gone at the AO Play-off.
“It feels absolutely fantastic. Just unreal. So hard to describe in words. I’m still kind of in shock,” she said.
“I was so nervous (in the final game). I was so shaky … I just had to be solid. I knew I was winning most of my service games – I just had to keep putting the ball in. I knew it was windy. I had to make her play.”
It continued a gritty path through to the final for Myers, who in the first round overcame Tammi Patterson 8-6 in the third set.
“I think mentally I’m a lot better. Just taking just one shot at a time and not thinking about the outcome,” she explained.
“The outcome (in this case) is a main draw wildcard, but you just have to scale that back, think one shot at a time.”
For more information, visit the Australian Open Play-off homepage.