Saville completes comeback to win Glen Iris Futures title
TWO THOUGHTS went through Luke Saville’s mind as he prepared to serve, down triple match point to Alex Bolt late in the second set of today’s $15,000 Glen Iris final.
The first was, ‘I’m going to lose this’. The other, more positive one was the voice of Saville’s old coach, Ray Ruffels.
“He actually said to me, ‘When you’re down match point, you’re not far off winning’,” Saville said of Ruffels.
“I take that in the sense if you can save those match points then it really hurts your opponent mentally.”
Three first serves followed.
Saville, with his injured tennis-player girlfriend Daria Gavrilova cheering his every move, only had to play one extra shot – a crushing forehand winner off a mid-court ball.
He celebrated escaping from the game with a skip, a jump and a fist pump.
Neither player made the most of his opportunities to that stage, but that was the biggest moment in shaping the contest’s direction.
Saville went on to score his fourth consecutive victory over Bolt – all three-setters and the past two after facing match points – and third title in his past four tournaments.
The former world junior No.1, who out-aced left-handed Bolt 13 to 11, also lost the Happy Valley final before that to American Jarmere Jenkins.
The 4-6 7-6(4) 6-4 triumph is set to vault Saville into the top 250 in the ATP rankings in about a week for the first time.
“It’s been a bit of a fairytale, to be honest,” Saville said of his strong run of form.
“Everyone says they want to get out of Futures as quickly as possible and at the start of the year I looked up these Futures I was going to play and said to myself, ‘Yeah, I really want to go deep’.
“There’s no doubt in my mind I was thinking that. But to actually go out and do it like I have, I’m really, really, really proud of myself.”
Two-time junior grand slam champion Saville said what most pleased him was the confidence his game would translate to ATP Challenger level.
“I feel like things have come along – my serve’s come along – and there are things in my game that are going to stand up not only at Futures level, but at Challenger level as well,” he said.
Melbourne Park champion Alex Bolt was one point away three times from consecutive singles titles
“That’s probably the most important thing. But to play like I have this year so far, after having such a disappointing 2013, my mindset is in a really positive way at the moment.
“I’m chomping at the bit to get to Asia and give these Challengers a crack.”
Saville’s inspired play from match points down in the second set at 4-5 lasted until early in the deciding set, when he surged 3-1 ahead.
That was his first break-point conversion on his ninth chance.
Bolt’s effort could easily have wavered at that stage, but he instead lifted again to break Saville back in the next game.
His thunderous crosscourt forehand to force Saville into error and reduce him to 30-all in that game was superb. In fact, most of the match was played that way.
These are two young Australians genuinely on the rise, with much greater heights to scale.
The rallies were intense, the serving was top notch and it was obvious how desperately both players wanted to win.
In the end that honour went to Saville, after Bolt had another break point – and again was unable to return his fellow South Australian’s first serve – in the seventh game.
They combined to be just four of 22 on break points. That was reflective of the quality of clutch serving the combatants produced.
Saville’s 12th and 13th aces steered him to a 5-4 third-set lead.
Bolt did not go down without a fight. He saved the first two match points he faced – the first controversially with an ace, when the chair umpire overruled a fault call.
But it was ultimately a cruel, anti-climactic finish, with a Bolt double fault ending his challenge.
“It could have been a completely different match if I had have taken just one of (the match points),” Bolt said.
“I think he pulled out three first serves, so there’s not much I could have really done.
“It is (frustrating), especially in a final like this – it was for a title. But all credit to ‘Sav’ for coming up clutch in those big situations.”
The men’s doubles title went to Dane Propoggia and James Lemke.
They downed Aaron Leeder-Chard and Daniel Ferretti 6-1 6-3 in the decider, surviving a last-gasp fightback from the Victorians.
Doubles world No.153 and singles semi-finalist Propoggia has now won 31 doubles titles, while Lemke is up to five, including three with Propoggia.