Bolt powers into AO Play-off semifinals
The final four is set in the AO Play-off men's singles draw, with Alex Bolt, Max Purcell, John-Patrick Smith and Maverick Banes still in contention for a coveted Australian Open 2020 wildcard.
Alex Bolt’s hopes of winning an Australian Open 2020 wildcard are still alive.
The top-seeded South Australian moved into the AO Play-off semifinals with a 6-4 2-6 6-3 6-4 victory over Luke Saville at Melbourne Park today.
The seventh-seeded Saville, a finalist at last year’s AO Play-off, started well but couldn’t capitalise on the early 3-1 lead he built in the opening set. Bolt, who made the Australian Open 2019 third round as a wildcard, surged back to win five of the following six games.
Momentum quickly swung again in the second set, with Saville racing to a 4-1 lead as Bolt appeared to struggle with injury.
But after Saville levelled the match at one-set all, the No.160-ranked Bolt shook off any injury concerns to take control of the match.
Alex Bolt is the second player through to the semifinals of the #AOPlayoff!
The number 1 seed advances with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Luke Saville, who he lost to in this tournament last year. pic.twitter.com/KjK6dRvjz8
— Jedd Zetzer (@JeddZetzer) December 11, 2019
The 26-year-old Bolt will face third seed Max Purcell in the semifinals.
The No.222-ranked Purcell progressed with a 7-6(4) 6-3 6-1 win over Tasmania’s Harry Bourchier, putting the 21-year-old from Sydney within two wins of earning a Grand Slam main draw debut.
Earlier in the day, sixth seed John-Patrick Smith advanced to the semifinals with a four-set win over Aleksandar Vukic.
The 30-year-old from Queensland bounced back strongly after losing a tight second set – where both players had multiple set points – to post a 6-3 6-7(15) 6-3 6-1 victory over the fourth-seeded Vukic.
“They were tricky conditions with a bit of cloud and swirling wind out there, but I stayed pretty focused and took care of business, which is great,” Smith said after the three-hour match.
It sets up a semifinal showdown against eighth seed Maverick Banes.
The 27-year-old Banes survived a fierce challenge from 18-year-old wildcard Tristan Schoolkate, scoring a 4-6 6-0 4-6 7-5 7-5 victory.
Banes needed three hours and 17 minutes to overcome the No.863-ranked Schoolkate, who won the 18/u Australian Championships last week. Banes’ experience proved telling in the deciding set, with the Queenslander holding his nerve in the final stages.
“I always knew in the back of my mind I was feeling great physically, that’s one of my strengths, and if I kept pushing I’d have a chance to break him,” Banes said of his late-match mindset.
The men’s semifinals are scheduled for Friday. The AO 2020 Play-off continues tomorrow with the women’s singles quarterfinals.