Rhyne Williams won the fifth annual USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs on Sunday evening in Atlanta, GA. Williams earned a place in the main draw of the upcoming season’s first Grand Slam by defeating Tim Smyczek 7-6(4), 5-7, 6-3, 6-3.
In Saturday’s semifinals, Williams found himself trailing second-seeded Denis Kudla by a set and 5-3 in the second—all but out of the tournament. Little more than 24 hours later, Williams is suddenly primed and ready for what will be either the biggest or second biggest match of his professional career (he lost to Andy Roddick in the opening round of the 2012 U.S. Open).
“That’s bizarre,” Williams said of the turnaround. “That’s tennis for ya. Crazy things happen in this sport. You just gotta be ready. You gotta compete every point, because you never know when you’re going to get your chance. Luckily for me it came this week. I just kept my head down and kept fighting, and something good happened.”
A lot of good things happened for Williams in this one, but nothing was better than his forehand. Having endured a much more difficult semifinal match than Smyczek, Williams tried to keep points short with his favorite shot while looking to power his way to quick momentum. It did not always work against Smyczek’s rock-solid defense and impressive counter-punching, but it ended up being the difference in a first-set tiebreaker. Williams gave back two mini-breaks from 4-1 to 4-4, but he continued to dictate play from the back of the court and recovered for three straight points to snag the set.
“It seemed like every time I had at least a shadow of an opportunity he came up with something big,” Smyczek explained.
The No. 1 seed, however, did not go down without a fight. He seized momentum with a clutch service break at 5-5 in the second before closing it out one game later. Smyczek’s consistency had begun to pay off against Williams’ borderline go-for-broke style, just as it did in victories for Smyczek over Williams last month in Knoxville, TN and Champaign, IL. This time, though, the underdog’s forehand never went off course....
Read more: http://tenngrand.com/2012/12/17/will...pen-wild-card/