Junior boys' tournament favourite Luke Saville powered his way into the final for the second consecutive year at Melbourne Park on Friday.
His semifinal opponent, tenth-seeded Czech Adam Pavlasek, a quarterfinalist at the US Open in 2011, proved no match for the young Aussie as he cruised through to win 6-3, 6-4 in just over an hour.
The Aussie is now looking to turn the tables on Filip Peliwo in Saturday’s final. The unseeded Canadian beat him in three sets (saving match points along the way) in the final of the lead-up event a week ago.
Peliwo comfortably dispatched little-known American qualifier Mackenzie McDonald 6-4, 6-4 to book his spot in the final.
For Saville, his semifinal looked like just another day in the office as his consistency and natural shot-making came to the fore on show court 3 in front of a small but parochial crowd.
The local support wasn’t a concern for his opponent Pavlasek though, as he had his own Czech entourage today, with girlfriend and semifinalist in this year’s women’s singles, Petra Kvitova, vocal in support for her young beau.
Kvitova was joined courtside by one of the game’s legends in Ivan Lendl – recently appointed coach of Andy Murray who takes on Novak Djokovic in a blockbuster semifinal at Rod Laver Arena tonight.
Despite his experienced bench, Pavlasek looked tentative early, but eventually found his range to take a 3-0 lead in the second set. It was all to no avail though, as Saville lifted a gear and only lost one more game in claiming victory.
“I played some great tennis out there today and I’m very confident ahead of the final,” Saville said.
The second semifinal had been hotly anticipated as both Peliwo and McDonald have been on quite a tear since arriving in Australia.
Peliwo came to Melbourne Park on the back of his recent success in Traralgon and prior to that, a semifinal berth at the prestigious Orange Bowl.
His opponent today has been something of a revelation in taking out a number of seeded and in-form players on his way to the semifinals.
As it turned out, the match proved relatively one-sided, with Peliwo taking charge early against a somewhat nervous McDonald. But even once the dust settled, the Canadian continued to dominate, neutralising McDonald’s big forehand and controlling the American from the baseline to win 6-4, 6-4.
“I played a solid game and took my chances when I got them,” Peliwo said after the match, also revealing he and McDonald have been roommates in Melbourne this week.
In looking ahead to the final, Peliwo said he was confident. “I feel really good. I’m playing even better than I did last week [against Saville]. It should be a good match.”
Saville on the other hand, said he would draw on the experience gained from playing in the final last year. “I know what it feels like to be out there,” he said. “I can definitely use that to my advantage.”
“I have really developed my game in the last year,” he added. “I’m much more confident.”
Given the tightness of their most recent encounter, there’s no doubt the final looms as a close one.
“It’s going to be a tough match either way,” concluded Saville.