USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs Day 2 Recap
Posted on December 16, 2012 | Leave a comment
And then there were four…in the battle for the USTA’s main-draw wild card into the 2013 Australian Open. That number dwindled to two on Saturday in Atlanta, after a couple of very different matches….
Rhyne Williams d. Denis Kudla 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-1 – Williams stormed from behind to win a topsy-turvy match against Kudla. After 11 straight holds to open the proceedings, Kudla took control by breaking serve for the first set. It gave the No. 2 seed momentum that he held onto almost the entire way.
Williams donated another pressurized service game at 3-4 in the second, which seemed to all but seal his losing fate. Having not come close to breaking his opponent in the set, Williams won a return game out of absolutely nowhere to stay alive—almost going for broke like Novak Djokovic, while connecting on several huge forehands.
“It really started clicking at the right time,” Williams said of his forehand. “I was back against the wall; he was serving for the match. I hit a few really big forehands. Thankfully it came around.”
The forehand came around and never left, carrying Williams through a second-tiebreaker, into the second a set, and all the way to the finish line. But it was a backhand stab that proved to be the most important shot of the match—and the tournament. Facing break point at 1-1, Kudla hit a shot off the net cord that looked like a sure winner. Williams not only managed to track it down, but he flicked a winning cross-court pass that landed spot on the sideline.
After the point, an exhausted Williams bent over and proclaimed, “I need a beer.”
He did not get his adult beverage, but he ended up getting a hold to maintain the momentum. And he didn’t lose another game the rest of the way, as Williams continued to heat up as Kudla started to crumble in the aftermath of so many missed chances.
“He’s got a really tricky game,” Williams said of Kudla. “He hits the ball really low and flat. I like the ball up high so I can hit down on it. It took me a while to get used to the pace of his shot. Luckily I came up with some big forehands in the second-set tiebreaker and I kind of got on a roll after that.”
Tim Smyczek d. Tennys Sandgren 6-2, 6-2 – Another former Tennessee Volunteer was a much bigger underdog on Saturday and did not have nearly as much luck. A match that started when Williams and Kudla were wrapping up their first set ended more than 30 minutes earlier. Smyczek, the No. 1 seed, oldest, and most experienced player in the field made quick work of things. Sandgren said after that he did not play terrible tennis, adding that his opponent was simply too good.