STO Dbls 4th seeds Ebden and Smith advance to QF after straight sets win
By Dillon Lim
The final match of Day 3 on Court 1 at the Singapore Tennis Open, saw the 4th seeded Australian duo of Matthew Ebden and John-Patrick Smith take on the American duo of Thai-Son Kwiatkowski and Christopher Eubanks. Both pairs looked to earn a spot in the quarterfinals.
In the first two games of the opening set, both sides held serves comfortably, displaying some lovely doubles tennis. The American duo then faced a break point at 40-40 on Kwiatkowski’s serve at 1-1, but managed to save it to get an important hold of serve, preventing the 4th seeds from getting an early break of serve. At 2-2 (30-0) on Eubanks’ serve, he loaded up and ripped a forehand crosscourt winner off Ebden’s return for one of the shots of the match. In the very next game at 30-30, Eubanks got into his partner’s way when returning back to position, passing on a chance to get a break point. However, a volley error from Ebden in the next point gave the Americans a break point at 40-40. He quickly redeemed himself by putting away an overhead smash to level things at 3-3.
A moment of miscommunication and confusion put Kwiatkowski and Eubanks down 0-30. Shortly after, Ebden whips a forehand passing shot against Eubanks at the net to give the Aussies their second break opportunity of the match. An exchange between Smith from the baseline and Kwiatkowski at the net saw the former fire 4 shots at the latter. That made the American volley shot after shot, before eventually missing the fourth volley. As a result, the 4th seeds broke for a 4-3 lead. The American duo looked en route to break back when they each hit a return winner to go 15-30 up, but 3 straight points from the Australian saw them consolidate their break to lead 5-3. Eubanks held serve the next game to make Smith serve for the set. A quick hold to love wrapped up the set 6-4 for the Australian pair in just over 30 minutes.
The 2nd set progressed in a different manner to the first. Eubanks served a double fault before Kwiatkowski missed a volley wide in the first game of the set, giving their opponents an early break. Ebden held his serve to love for a 2-0 lead in the next game. A couple of errors from the Americans, along with 2 huge forehand winners from the Australians, saw the 4th seeds sprint to a double break and 3-0 lead. A comfortable hold from Smith extended that lead to 4-0. The Australians looked to be in control and relaxed, playing some fine doubles tennis.
In the fifth game, Eubanks held easily to put him and his partner on the scoreboard for the 2nd set. A few big serves and overhead smashes from Ebden to hold his serve followed by a straightforward hold from Kwiatkowski, meant that Smith would serve for the match at 5-2. A narrowly missed backhand by Kwiatkowski at 30-30 gave the 4th seeds two match points. Ebden put away a volley on the first match point to wrap things up 6-4, 6-2.
The Australians showed their dominance from all parts of the court, firing big serves and groundstrokes while having soft hands at the net. They also recorded a first serve percentage of 91%, with 79% of points won behind their first serve, as well as converting 3/5 break points. The duo of Ebden and Smith will face another American pair in Alex Lawson and Robert Galloway in the quarterfinals on Friday.
(Edited by Raj Kumar)
Dillon Lim is in his final year of university. He enjoys playing tennis and has been in love with the game since he was a kid. The 23 year old used to play competitively for Raffles Institution and was in the junior national training squad before leaving to study in the UK. And he still plays for his current university. Off the court, Dillon enjoys watching tennis matches and always keeps up with the very latest tournaments.
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