Tag: john-patrick smith

ATP 250 wraps: Aussies bow out in Singapore as upsets take place in Montpellier

IT was a mixed bag of results on day two across the various ATP 250 events, as we recap the results as of publishing in Montpellier, Singapore and Cordoba.

A couple of experienced talents joined the list of outs from the Open Sud de France in Montpellier, with eighth seed Jan-Lennard Struff and Frenchman Gilles Simon both bundled out of the tournament. Struff went down to qualifier and compatriot Peter Gojowczyk in straight sets, losing 6-3 6-4 in one hour and 18 minutes, with the 144th ranked played topping his German counterpart who sits 107 placed above him in the world. Meanwhile Austrian Dennis Novak continued his strong start to the year with a solid three-set win over Simon. Novak needed a tiebreaker to get through the first set, before dropping away in the second, and then posting a win 7-6 1-6 6-3 to advance to the Round of 16.

In other results, wildcard Benjamin Bonzi won through in straight sets in the all-French clash against Lucas Pouille, getting up 7-6 6-2. Experienced Czech Jiri Vesely was far too good for a disappointing Mikael Ymer, winning 6-1 6-1, while in the final results, Dutch qualifier Tallon Griekspoor won 6-2 6-7 6-3 over American Marcos Giron in the clear best match of the day. It lasted two hours and 10 minutes with the players evenly matched until Griekspoor – who had saved all five break point opportunities from his opponent – broke for a third time to win. .

In the late game, the most talked about match took place on Court Patrice Dominguez with Belarusian Egor Gerasimov taking on Grand Slam winner and returning from injury Brit, Andy Murray. After a nail-biting first set tiebreaker (10-8), Gerasimov ran away with the contest in the second set to win 7-6 6-1 and book his spot in the second round.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[Q] Peter Gojowczyk (GER) defeated [8] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-3 6-4
[WC] Benjamin Bonzi (FRA) defeated Lucas Pouille (FRA) 7-6 6-2
[Q] Tallon Griekspoor (NED) defeated Marcos Giron (USA) 6-2 6-7 6-3
Dennis Novak (AUT) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 7-6 1-6 6-3
Jiri Vesely (CZE) defeated Mikael Ymer (SWE) 6-1 6-1
Egor Gerasimov (BLR) defeated Andy Murray (GBR) 7-6 6-1

 

Over in Singapore, five matches were completed on day two, and it was not good news for the Australians with all three players on court unable to join day one winner, Alexei Popyrin in the Round of 16. Marc Polmans was the toughest to beat, forcing Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama to three sets before going down 6-4 2-6 6-4 in two hours and 18 minutes. Similarly, John-Patrick Smith also suffered a three-set loss, this time to Macedonian sixth seed Radu Albot who won 6-2 3-6 6-1.

James Duckworth was unable to really break down German Yannick Hanfmann in their match, with the latter triumphing in straight sets, 6-2 6-4 to advance to the next round of action. In the other two matches, Turkish qualifier Altug Celikbilek won against Japanese wildcard Shintaro Mochizuki. Celikbilek got up 6-0 6-4 convincingly, while American Maxime Cressy moved into the Round of 16 with a 7-6 6-2 victory over Chinese Taipei’s Jason Jung.

SINGAPORE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[6] Radu Albot (MCE) defeated [Q] John-Patrick Smith (AUS) 6-2 3-6 6-1
Maxime Cressy (USA) defeated Jason Jung (TAI) 7-6 6-2
Yannick Hanfmann (GER) defeated James Duckworth (AUS) 6-2 6-4
Yasutaka Uchiyama (JPN) defeated Marc Polmans (AUS) 6-4 2-6 6-4
[Q] Altug Celikbilek (TUR) defeated [WC] Shintaro Mochizuki (JPN) 6-0 6-4

 

The two lower ranked players at the Cordoba Open won through to the second round with hard-fought three sets wins over their respective opponents. Chilean wildcards Nicolas Jarry came from a set down to survive a nail-biting tiebreaker and then win in three against rising Spaniard Jaume Munar, 5-7 7-6 6-4. The match lasted a whopping two hours and 44 minutes with Jarry serving up seven aces, and winning 75 per cent of his first serve points, albeit off a lowly 54 per cent efficiency. Jarry’s was more efficient with 74 per cent of his first serves going in, but only capitalising on 63 per cent of them, as both players were broken five times.

In the other match, Jozef Kovalik also needed three sets to get past Daniel Elahi Galan, bouncing back from a disappointing second set to win 6-2 1-6 6-3 in an hour and 43 minutes. Kovalik broke four times to three, the last being a crucial one in the final set, to book his spot in the Round of 16 with victory on the clay courts.

CORDOBA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[WC] Nicolas Jarry (CHL) defeated Jaume Munar (ESP) 5-7 7-6 6-4
Jozef Kovalik (SVK) defeated Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) 6-2 1-6 6-3

Picture credit: Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images

ATP 250s wraps: Tsonga beaten on return as Popyrin claims win in Singapore

GRAND SLAM finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made his long-awaited return to the ATP Tour at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier yesterday, though it did not go plan. The former Top 10 talent was easily beaten by American Sebastian Korda in the first round of the ATP 250 event.

The match lasted just 72 minutes with Korda claiming the spoils, 6-4 6-2, dominating on serve and only dropping eight points in total, saving both of his opponent’s break point opportunities. Tsonga was far from his best, but getting through the match was the key, still winning 69 per cent of his first serve points, and serving five aces throughout the match. He saved three of six break points, but ultimately could not do enough against a player who has built form over the past 12 months.

It was better news for sixth seed Ugo Humbert, whose rise up the ATP Rankings continues following his straight sets win over Slovakian Norbert Gombos. Humbert won 6-4 7-6 in 78 minutes, slamming home 18 aces and winning 88 per cent of his first serve points off an elite 79 per cent efficiency to never give his opponent a chance. In Gombos’ defence, he held up well, actually breaking Humbert once from two chances, while the Frenchman broke him from both his opportunities. Overall the class of Humbert stood out and he advanced to the Round of 16.

In the final match played on day one of the main draw event, seventh seed Lorenzo Sonego battled past young Frenchman Hugo Gaston. The Italian won 6-3 6-7 6-1, holding his nerve in the third set after dropping the second set tiebreaker 9-7, to win in two hours and 19 minutes. He served seven aces and broke six times from 12 chances, while only being broken three times himself.

In today’s action, there are plenty more Frenchman on show, with Lucas Pouille taking on compatriot and wildcard Benjamin Bonzi, while Gilles Simon faces Austrian Dennis Novak. The match of the day could be either British wildcard and Grand Slam winner Andy Murray taking on Belarusian Egor Gerasimov, or Swede Mikael Ymer locking horns with Jiri Vesely.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[6] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated Norbert Gombos (SVK) 6-4 7-6
[7] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [WC] Hugo Gaston (FRA) 6-3 6-7 6-1
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 6-4 6-2

Five first round matches were completed in Singapore, with a mixed bag for the two seeds on court. Fifth seed Japanese counter puncher Yoshihito Nishioka defeated improving American Michael Mmoh 6-2 3-6 6-3, while seventh seed South African Lloyd Harris went down in three sets to Bulgarian wildcard Adrian Andreev.

Nishioka needed almost two hours to defeat Mmoh, surviving 11 aces to bring up 10 break point opportunities, albeit only taking three. It was two more than Mmoh who broke once in the second set, but could not do it again in the match. Meanwhile Andreev took two hours and 19 minutes to knock off the fast-serving Harris, not needing to serve and ace and even holding off 12 of 15 break point chances for the South African to win 1-6 6-3 6-4. The Bulgarian bounced back from a disappointing first set to post the impressive win over the developing Harris.

Andreev now takes on Australian Alexei Popyrin who knocked off American qualifier, Christopher Eubanks in two tiebreakers, 7-6 7-6, both of which were 7-5 tiebreakers. The match lasted one hour and 46 minutes, with Popyrin powering home 15 aces and saving 10 of 11 break points in a remarkable feat. He won 72 per cent of his first serve points, and also only broke Eubanks once, holding firm in the crucial tiebreakers to claim a narrow straight sets win.

In other Singapore results, United States’ Maxime Cressy became his nation’s sole winner on the day, downing Chinese Taipei’s Jason Jung in straight sets 7-6 6-2, while Japan’s Taro Daniel joined compatriot Nishioka in the second round after a tight three-set win over India’s Ramkumar Ramanathan, 6-3 6-7 6-3.

In today’s action, three Australians are out on court, with Marc Polmans up first against Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama. Following that match, qualifier John-Patrick Smith has to find a way to upstage sixth seed Macedonian Radu Albot, before James Duckworth takes to the court at night against German, Yannick Hanfmann.

SINGAPORE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated Michael Mmoh (USA) 6-2 3-6 6-3
[WC] Adrian Andreev (BUL) defeated [7] Lloyd Harris (RSA) 1-6 6-3 6-4
Maxime Cressy (USA) defeated Jason Jung (TAI) 7-6 6-2
Taro Daniel (JPN) defeated Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND) 6-3 6-7 6-3
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [Q] Christopher Eubanks (USA) 7-6 7-6

At the time of publishing, none of the day one matches had been completed in Cordoba, with the Argentinian tournament finishing off the third round of qualifying earlier in the day. The night session featured two Round of 32 matches which will be covered in tomorrow’s wrap, with Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan facing Slovakian Jozef Kovalik, followed by Spaniard Jaume Munar taking on Chilean wildcard Nicolas Jarry.

Picture credit: ATP Tour

Australian Open: Men’s Day 1 review – Top seeds breeze through as Shapovalov dumped, Fognini in trouble

IT was a huge Day 1 of the Australian Open with most matches played until the rain hit which suspended six and forced 11 to be moved to today before starting. In the results that did occur, most of the favourites advanced with just two seeds dropping out on the men’s side as 13th seed Denis Shapovalov exited, as did 25th seed Borna Coric. It was also not a great day for Australia, with Andrew Harris and John-Patrick Smith gone in straight sets, while Max Purcell was down two sets when the rain delay hit. We recap all the matches on the opening day.

In the most completed eighth on the first day, four matches were fully posted, with another two suspended and only one yet to start. Of those yet to be completed, Reilly Opelka‘s win over Fabio Fognini last year appears to not be a fluke with the powerful serving American leading two sets to love early in the third set against the 12th seed, having already served 14 aces, no double faults and winning 76 per cent of his first serves. Meanwhile, American Tennys Sandgren won the first game in his clash against Argentinian qualifier Marco Trungelliti, while the match between Australia’s Jordan Thompson and Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik is yet to begin.

If Fognini bows out, the eighth could really open up with Coric already bundled courtesy of a straight sets win by American, Sam Querrey. The world number 45 is yet to make it past a third round at Melbourne Park, but cruised into the Round of 64 without too much trouble in a 6-3 6-4 6-4 victory. The former world number 11 served up 18 aces averaging 196 kmh with his fastest clocking in at a whopping 222 kmh. He also hit an impressive 36 winners to his opponents’ 20, while recording just the 19 unforced errors to 30. With an 82 per cent winning ratio on his first serve and 65 per cent on his second, Querrey was hard to quell, only broken once as he managed it four times from 11 opportunities.

Querrey now plays Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis who had a similar easy time against Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baeana in his 6-4 6-2 6-2 Round 1 triumph on Court 12. In just under two hours, the world number 69 moved through to the second round, hitting a ridiculous 41 winners to his opponents’ 14, while serving at 75 per cent. The serve-vollier importantly won 80 per cent of his net points, then took his opportunities upon return, breaking seven times and winning 59 per cent of the points. He will need to step it up another notch to beat Querrey in the next round with the American winning both clashes between the two in straight sets, though the last was all the way back in 2013.

In a surprise to few, eighth seed Matteo Berrettini flexed his muscles in his opening round game to be one of the first men’s matches finished thanks to a 6-3 6-1 6-3 victory over Australian wildcard, Harris. Berrettini was simply too good, leading all statistical categories and averaging 205 kmh on his serve for 11 aces all-up. His first serve at times was shaky with just 50 per cent success, though with an 85 per cent first serve winning record, and zero breaks against, he will take the straight sets win and move on. It was pleasing to see one of the roughies in the tournament hist 38 winners whilst looking strong at the net with a 74 per cent winning record when approaching. He will have the extra day’s rest on either Sandgren or Tungelliti who play today after their match was suspended.

The other Australian to depart was Smith, who fell to 22nd seed Argentinian, Guido Pella in a closer 6-3 7-5 6-4 loss. Pella was just consistent across the board, winning every statistical category, with an ultra impressive 75 per cent winning ratio on both his first and second serve compared to the Australian’s 65 and 46 per cent respectively. Pella hit 30 winners to 26 and was particularly savvy with his passing shots, claiming 12 winners by finding the gap past Smith when the local approached the net. Smith had a more powerful first serve, but could not win enough once into the rally, still claiming 26 winners and eight aces in the match, though had 37 unforced errors and could only break once to his opponents’ four times.

Pella has drawn a favourable draw at this year’s event, now set to face France’s Gregoire Barrere who overcame Egyptian qualifier, Mohamed Safwat in three and a half hours. Barrere had to come from a set down – losing a tiebreaker 10-8 – to post a 6-7 7-6 6-4 7-6 win in an epic battle. Barrere put down 17 aces to 10 during the match, winning 73 per cent of his first serve points and 69 per cent of his net points. The Frenchman broke six times to five during the match, with Barrerre winning 23 more points upon return, but only marginally getting ahead in each set to win in a tight one.

[8] M. Berrettini (ITA) defeated [WC] A. Harris (AUS) 6-3 6-1 6-3
T. Sandgren (USA) leads [Q] M. Trungelliti (ARG) 1-0 SUSPENDED
R. Berankis (LIT) defeated R. Carballes Baena (ESP) 6-4 6-2 6-2
S. Querrey (USA) defeated [25] B. Coric (CRO) 6-3 6-4 6-4
[22] G. Pello (ARG) defeated [WC] J. Smith (AUS) 6-3 7-5 6-4
G. Barrere (FRA) defeated [Q] M. Safwat (EGT) 6-7 7-6 6-4 7-6
J. Thompson (AUS) vs. A. Bublik (KAZ)
R. Opelka (USA) leads [12] F. Fognini (ITA) 6-3 7-6 1-0 SUSPENDED

Just three matches were completed in the second eighth on Day 1, with Marton Fucsovics‘s triumph over Shapovalov detailed in our Match of the Day yesterday. His likely opponent will be Italian Next Gen winner, Jannik Sinner who leads Australian qualifier, Max Purcell two sets to love and the pair are locked at 4-4 in the third set. It was disappointing for the Australian who had a break at 5-3 in the first before being broken back by Sinner who went on to win the set in a tiebreaker. Elsewhere, French qualifier Quentin Halys is level with Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic 6-6, while three other games are yet to begin.

Third seed and six-time champion Roger Federer did what the Swiss Master does to most and just cruised through to the second round with a 6-3 6-2 6-2 win over 85th ranked Steve Johnson. In a game where the world number three barely need to lift a gear, he dominated all facets of the match putting down 11 aces and winning 82 and 76 per cent of his first and second serve points respectively. He also broke Johnson five times and looked dangerous at the net with a 72 per cent winning ratio when approaching. Federer also hit 34 winners to his opponents’ 16, and booked a spot in the Round of 64 to face either Halys or Krajinovic.

The other completed match was 18th seed, Grigor Dimitrov who came from a set down to move past Argentinian Juan Ignacio Londero 4-6 6-2 6-0 6-4. Despite serving seven aces, hitting 14 winners and winning 74 per cent of his first serves, Dimitrov was his own worst enemy in the first set, producing an error-filled 16 unforced errors. Londero took the only break in the set, with a hard to fault 87 per cent first serve percentage, as well as 78 per cent winning percentage on the first serve. He only hit three winners for the set, but it mattered little as he was efficient unlike his opponent who was erratic at times. Dimitrov clicked into gear after that, storming to victory, with only 27 unforced errors in the remaining three sets, and playing sensibly to hit another 33 winners and control play both off the serve and at the net.

M. Fucsovics (HUN) defeated [13] D. Shapovalov (CAN) 6-3 6-7 6-1 7-6
J. Sinner (ITA) leads [Q] M. Purcell (AUS) 7-6 6-2 4-4 SUSPENDED
L. Mayer (AUS) vs. T. Paul (USA)
[18] G. Dimitrov (BLR) defeated J. Londero (ARG) 4-6 6-2 6-0 6-4
[31] H. Hurkacz (POL) vs. [Q] D. Novak (AUT)
J. Millman (AUS) vs. U. Humbert (FRA)
[Q] Q. Halys (FRA) level with F. Krajinovic (SRB) 6-6 SUSPENDED
[3] R. Federer (SUI) defeated S. Johnson (USA) 6-3 6-2 6-2

It was a similar story in the next eighth with some one-sided contests and a number of uncompleted matches. In fact just two games were completed – both at night – as three matches did not even get underway. Sixth seed, Stefanos Tsitsipas had no problems advancing to the second round with a 6-0 6-2 6-3 win over Italian Salvatore Caruso in an hour and 43 minutes. The Greek young gun had an inaccurate first serve percentage (59) but was hard to beat when it went in, recording an elite 92 per cent winning ratio, while having a 60 per cent winning record off his second serve. It made it near-impossible for Caruso who failed to generate a break point opportunity, while Tsitsipas helped himself to six breaks in the straight sets rout. He hit 27 winners and only 16 unforced errors in a strong first round display to move through to the second round.

Awaiting Tsitsipas in the Round of 64 is German Philipp Kohlschreiber who also advanced past Round 1 in straight sets. The 79th ranked German saw past American Marcos Giron 7-5 6-1 6-2 in a strong counter baseline effort. He hit 36 winners for the match, breaking six times and controlling the game with an 81 per cent first serve points percentage. His groundstroke shots were impressive with 19 of those winners coming from his forehand groundstroke. Giron was stronger at the net, winning 73 per cent of his points when approaching, but could only break once from five opportunities, and hit 38 unforced errors.

In the three suspended matches, ninth seed Roberto Bautista Agut leads countryman, Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-2 1-2, 32nd seed Milos Raonic is one game away from victory in a rout of Italian lucky loser, Lorenzo Giustino 6-2 6-1 5-2, while Chilean, Cristian Garin leads Italian Stefano Travaglia 6-4 6-3 1-1.

[6] S. Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated S. Caruso (ITA) 6-0 6-2 6-3
P. Kohlschreiber (GER) defeated M. Giron (USA) 7-5 6-1 6-2
C. Garin (CHI) leads S. Travaglia (ITA) 6-4 6-3 1-1 SUSPENDED
[32] M. Raonic leads [LL] L. Giustino (ITA) 6-2 6-1 5-2 SUSPENDED
[21] B. Paire (FRA) vs. C. Stebe (GER)
M. Cilic (CRO) vs. C. Moutet (FRA)
P. Andujar (ESP) vs. [WC] M. Mmoh (USA)
[9] R. Baustista Agut (ESP) leads F. Lopez (ESP) 6-2 1-2 SUSPENDED

One of the more interesting battles was that of 30th seed from Great Britain, Daniel Evans and United States’ Mackenzie McDonald. Ranked 127th in the world, the 24-year-old American stunned the crowd against the in-form 29-year-old, winning the first two sets 6-3 6-4, before Evans came from the clouds to complete a comeback in five sets, winning the next three, 6-1 6-2 6-3. In the first two sets, McDonald hit 32 winners to 15, before Evans turned it around with a dominant third set, restricting his opponent to just three winners on his way to victory. Evans hit 39 winners to 23 in the remaining three sets, in a match that was barely recognisable from the first two sets, particularly when it came to the winners count. Across the match, it was hardly a performance to savour, as both players struggled at the net, with 68 and 52 per cent of points won by Evans and McDonald respectively. In the end, it was a massive 68 unforced errors from McDonald’s racquet, including 14 off the return that cost the American and helped Evans move through to the second round.

It was not the only battle in the bottom eighth, with Evans’ next opponent, Yoshihito Nishioka taking four sets to down Serbia’s Laslo Djere, 6-4 3-6 6-2 7-6. A conservative player, Nishioka id more of a counter puncher than a all-out baseliner, hitting a really low 15 winners for the match, but only having the 37 unforced errors. Instead, he allowed Djere to take his chances, hitting 41 winners but also coughing up 68 unforced errors. Nishioka broke eight times to six in a match where neither server really dominated, and he only won 10 more points that his opponent over the journey, but won the crucial fourth set tiebreaker to stop it going into a fifth set decider with a couple of back-to-back winners off his opponents’ serve at 4-1 to hand himself five match points before only needing one chance on serve.

In the other completed match, world number two, reigning champion and tournament favourite Novak Djokovic got the job done in a typical Round 1 fashion, defeating plucky German, Jan-Lennard Struff in four sets. The seven-time champion might not have had the breezy start that the other top seeds had, but the world number 35 is no easy-beat and he showed it on the night. It took the Serbian champion two hours and 16 minutes before he finally could enjoy a break, producing a solid, without outstanding performance which resulted in winning 77 per cent of his first serves, and breaking seven times. To Struff’s credit, the German had five break point opportunities and took four of them, only hitting five less winners and having six more unforced errors. His first serve (56 per cent) could have been better but he only served one less ace, though had seven more double faults. All things considered, Struff’s performance would have beaten most players who were not seven-time Australian Open champions.

Meanwhile Brit, Kyle Edmund looked good early against 24th seed Serbian Dusan Lajovic with a 5-2 lead before the rain delay hit, as he looks likely to make it a 4-0 head-to-head if that form continues. Four of the matches in the eighth did not get going and will be moved to the next day, including the intriguing clash between 14th seed Argentinian, Diego Schwartzman and South Africa’s big improver, Lloyd Harris.

[14] D. Schwartzman (ARG) vs. L. Harris (RSA)
A. Davidovich Fokina (ESP) vs. [Q] N. Gombos (SVK)
[WC] M. Polmans (AUS) vs. M. Kukushkin (KAZ)
K. Edmund (GBR) leads [24] D. Lajovic (SRB) 5-2
[30] D. Evans (GBR) defeated M. McDonald (USA) 3-6 4-6 6-1 6-2 6-3
Y. Nishioka (JPN) defeated L. Djere (SRB) 6-4 3-6 6-2 7-6
[WC] T. Ito vs. [LL] P. Gunneswaran (IND)
[2] N. Djokovic (SRB) defeated J. Struff (GER) 7-6 6-2 2-6 6-1

Rodionova and Smith book Wildcard spots at Aus Open

ARINA Rodionova and John-Patrick Smith have booked their ticket to the Australian Open with wins in their respective Wildcard Playoff draws at Melbourne Park over the past week. The wins meant the pair does not need to go through qualifying, sparing them at least three matches in what is predicted to be scorching Melbourne heat.

Rodionova earned her Wildcard spot in the Australian Open after triumphing in the final over Storm Sanders, 6-4 7-5. The number four seed entered the tournament as one of the favourites to take it out, only dropping the one set – to seventh seed Belinda Woolcock – on her way to victory. Once ranked as high as 116th in the WTA Tour Rankings from October 23, 2017, Rodionova is currently ranked 203rd. Rodionova spent most of the year playing 125K or ITF events, earning a spot in Wimbledon’s main draw after making it through qualifying but dropping her first round match to American, Taylor Townsend. Having lost in the opening round of qualifying at her home Grand Slam, the Russian-born 30-year-old will be keen to make an impact in the main draw after a strong performance across the Wildcard Playoff.

Sixth seed, Smith was a similar story, only dropping one set on his way to the Wildcard Playoff win against third seed, Max Purcell. Smith won 6-3 6-4 6-1 in the final, having also only dropped six games for the entire match against eighth seed Maverick Banes in the semi-finals. Smith is currently ranked 308th in the world, with his career high topping at 108th in September, 2015. The 30-year-old did not play an official ATP Tour match in 2019, having won five from a total of 24 over the years. His best result came in the first round of qualifying, when he was drawn against Frenchman, Nicolas Mahut and knocked off the big server, 6-3 6-4. While he did not play a main draw Grand Slam match last season, Smith now is guaranteed at least one, with his spot assured at Melbourne Park.

The first round of the Australian Open starts on January 20.