Lindahl wins epic final
Nick Lindahl has defeated Bernard Tomic in a five-set thriller at Melbourne Park to win the AO Play-off and a wildcard into Australian Open 2010.
Lindahl saved five match points in the fourth set to overcome a determined Tomic in front of a large crowd, 6-7(6) 6-1 4-6 7-6(8) 6-3.
After the match a relieved and elated Lindahl told the media that he would prepare differently for his second tilt at the Australian Open.
“[I’m] really happy but I’m really tired and really sore everywhere but I’m really happy and excited.
“Yesterday [against John Millman] I was two points away from defeat, today I was one point from defeat, so I’m really proud of myself to hang in there.”
The first set was a struggle as both players felt each other out, probing for weaknesses in each other’s game. Tomic used his backhand down the line to great effect as he burnt Lindahl a few times, with the set ending in a tiebreaker, which Tomic won 7-6(6).
The wheels fell off for Tomic in the second set as Lindahl took control and the set 6-1. Tomic even tried advancing to the net late in the set but was sent back to the baseline by a sublime Lindahl backhand passing shot.
Set point was a similar story as Lindahl finished the set off with a flourish coming in the form of a high-reaching crosscourt backhand volley that left Tomic stranded in no man’s land.
The third set mirrored the first as games went with serve until the tenth game when Tomic broke the status quo and snatched Lindahl’s serve and the set 6-4.
The irrepressible seventeen year old played one for the highlight reels on set point when he retrieved a Lindahl smash and elegantly popped the ball back over Lindahl’s head and into the corner for a winner.
But it was the fourth set that had the assembled crowd on the edge of their seats. Tomic jumped out of the blocks like a headstrong horse on Cup day to take a 3-0 lead before Lindahl had even saddled up. At 5-2 Tomic was looking like an almost certain starter at the Australian Open, but Lindahl wasn’t finished yet.
The 21 year old kept his head and saved five match points before taking the set himself in an epic tiebreaker 7-6(8).
In the final set Lindahl got the decisive break in the sixth game as he took a 4-2 lead. Both players held serve for the duration of the set, which Lindahl took 6-3.
It was a disappointing end for Tomic who got himself into a winning position and, just like Olivia Rogowska in the women’s final earlier in the day, he just wasn’t able to finish it off.
Following the match Tomic was asked if he’d be thinking about those missed match points tonight: “I had a few match points, but I’m gonna get over it tonight, so hopefully I can get it out of my mind by tomorrow,” he said.
“I should’ve changed something up but, then again, tennis is tennis – you make a few mistakes like that and it can cost you and it did today. But Nick played good tennis and there was no excuses, he just played the good shots at the right time.”