Now is a golden time for Australia in men’s tennis. Well, not really in the way you would expect. For the first time since 2007, two men reached the 4th round of the Australian Open. Those two players were Bernard Tomic and Lleyton Hewitt, and they could not contrast enough from each other.
Tomic is the protegee, the pin up boy, the 19 year-old who will lead Australia in the Davis Cup and in singles competition’s for the next 15 years. Hewitt has been there and done that all, he has lead Australia in the Davis Cup and Grand Slams for the past 8 or so years and is obviously coming to the end of his career.
So when they both lined up in the 4th round, I felt as though it was the transition of Australian tennis, the changing of the guard as such, from Hewitt and other players such as Chris Guccione and Peter Lucak, to the new generation of youngsters like Tomic, Matt Ebden, James Duckworth, Greg Jones and Luke Saville.
This is the best performance from the Australian men at their home grand slam in years. Hewitt and Tomic both reached the fourth round, but it was the improvement of the younger players that impressed me.
Greg Jones took two sets off Alexandr Dolgopolov, before ultimately crashing in the final 3 sets. James Duckworth won his first round match in straight sets against Jurgen Zopp, who was ranked just over 100 places higher then him. He then preceded to take the first set off world number 9 Janko Tipsarevic, before he was overrun. Tipsarevic then stated that Duckworth could be better than a top 100 player. Australia’s 2nd ranked player, Matt Ebden, won his first round match and took Kei Nishikori to 5 sets, but was beaten.
But possible Australia’s brightest hope, apart maybe from Bernard Tomic, was barely talked about. 18 year old world juniors number 1 Luke Saville, from Adelaide, won the Australian Open junior title. Sure this does not always bring success, see Mark Kratzmann and Brydan Klein about that, but like we saw in the womens game, Victoria Azarenka did the double of junior and senior title 5 years apart. Saville also won the Wimbledon junior title last year to prove that he is not a fluke.
Other Australian’s around the mark are Carsten Ball, Chris Guccione, Marinko Matosevic, Jason Kubler & Ben Mitchell, who lost the 2010 Wimbledon junior final, but surely has a bright future ahead of him, as does Australian Tennis.