2015 Australian Open Qualifying Recap
Chris De Waard, Tennis Atlantic
Top story of the first qualifying round was Benoit Paire. The former world #24 returned from a knee injury at the Hopman Cup and faced Elias Ymer in the first round, which ended in an absolute trashing, with the 18 year old Swede winning 6-0 6-4. Another former top 70 player, Matthew Ebden, missed 3 MP in his loss to #24 seed Matthias Bachinger, losing 6-4 6-7(7) 6-3. As if dropping 200 ranking spots over the course of a year wasn’t enough suffering for Ebden. Two other familiar names, Michal Przysiezny and Jurgen Zopp, were involved in a marathon match, with Przysiezny winning 4-6 6-3 9-7. Disappointing was Ryan Harrison’s loss, who had just won a Challenger and was looking to be on an upswing again, but fell to countryman Wayne Odesnik, 6-3 7-6(4).
Home player John-Patrick Smith took out German hope Alexander Zverev 7-6(8) 6-4, while James McGee kept his hopes on qualifying for his second Grand Slam alive by beating #12 seed Norbert Gombos, 1-6 6-3 6-2. Yuki Bhambri beat #15 seed Evgeny Donskoy in a long match, 4-6 6-1 8-6. Nikoloz Basilashvili, who reached the second round at Doha, lost in a similar match to Mate Delic, 3-6 7-6(4) 8-6.
In the second qualifying round Tim ”Golden Set” Puetz managed to beat top seed Damir Dzumhur, who reached the third round of the main draw last year. 6-2 4-6 8-6 was the score, in favor of the man who got handed a golden set in the qualifying draw of the US Open 2013. Second seed Jurgen Melzer very nearly got past Daniel Munoz-De La Nava, 2-6 7-6(2) 7-5. 35 year old Czech Jan Hernych won a marathon match against his fifteen years younger countryman Adam Pavlasek, 6-7(3) 6-3 14-12. Another oldtimer, Michael Russell, took out #21 seed Thiemo de Bakker 4-6 6-3 7-5. The man who beat Nadal in Doha, Michael Berrer, fell to Ruben Bemelmans, 3-6 7-5 6-3. Marius Copil beat Philipp Petzschner 6-3 3-6 8-6.
In the final qualifying round there was an interesting match lined up between two 18 year olds going for their first Grand Slam main draw, Elias Ymer and Hyeon Chung. Ymer won it relatively comfortably, 7-5 6-3. Jurgen Melzer won the most anticipated match of the final qualifying round against Steve Darcis, 7-6(6) 1-6 6-4. It’s a shame that Darcis had such an unfortunate draw, as he could have caused problems in the main draw. Golden oldies Russell and Hernych managed to get through comfortably in straight sets. Marius Copil qualified for his first Grand Slam main draw by beating Omar Jasika, 7-6(5) 6-2. The same goes for Yuki Bhambri, who beat Chase Buchanan 6-4 6-3. Lukasz Kubot didn’t make it, falling 6-2 6-2 to Iliya Marchenko.
The full list of qualifiers is as followed, with their main draw opponent in parentheses:
Aljaz Bedene (#1 seed Novak Djokovic)
Elias Ymer (Go Soeda)
Jimmy Wang (#19 seed John Isner)
Laurent Lokoli (Andreas Haider-Maurer)
Tim Puetz (Donald Young)
Iliya Marchenko (#8 seed Milos Raonic)
Marius Copil (Pablo Andujar)
Matthias Bachinger (Pablo Cuevas)
Jan Hernych (#30 seed Santiago Giraldo)
Kyle Edmund (Steve Johnson)
Jurgen Melzer (Victor Estrella Burgos)
Tim Smyczek (Luke Saville)
Yuki Bhambri (#6 seed Andy Murray)
Alexander Kudryavtsev (Marinko Matosevic)
Michael Russell (#20 seed David Goffin)
Ruben Bemelmans (#23 seed Ivo Karlovic)
In my opinion Ymer, Puetz, Copil, Melzer and Smyczek have an excellent opportunity to advance even further, with Lokoli, Bachinger, Hernych and Kudryavtsev being in there with an outside chance. One of the others winning would be a huge surprise.