MELBOURNE, January 10, 2017
The opening day of the 2017 Priceline Pharmacy Kooyong Classic provided four quality matches on a hot Melbourne afternoon but neither of the Australian players on show were able to win their first match.
In the first of the men’s championships matches, Croatian Ivo Karlovic was added to the group following the late withdrawal of Frenchman Richard Gasquet due to an abdominal issue.
Karlovic served well to overcome Frenchman Gilles Simon in a match that was decided by a super tiebreaker in hot and windy conditions.
That means the 37-year-old will now play in Friday’s final against either defending champion David Goffin from Belgium or Australian Bernard Tomic.
Haas Returns To Action
Despite very late notice of an offer to play at the 2017 Priceline Pharmacy Kooyong Classic, big-serving Jerzy Janowicz from Poland was able to defeat Tommy Haas in a super tiebreak.
The 26-year-old dropped the first set to the veteran German but rallied to win the second set and deciding 10-point match tiebreak 5-7 6-4 (10-4) in one hour and 18 minutes.
“You know, the conditions here were quite tough because it was quite windy which mixes it up a bit,” Janowicz said.
“In the beginning, especially the first set I had huge problems with timing, but second set and super tiebreak I felt really okay.”
A shout out must go to the player’s desk at the Australian Open who answered the call from tournament director Peter Johnston and found Janowicz walking the corridors on the way to a practice session.
Instead of training the big-hitting Pole was then on his way to Scotch College to warm up for the last match at Kooyong on day one with former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash.
The inaugural winner at Kooyong went well above and beyond his duties as the tournament’s official ambassador by filling in as a hitting partner for Janowicz.
“Yeah the tournament director he called me around two hours before the match so I agreed of course because it’s good practice for me,” Janowicz said.
“I didn’t get many matches for the last three months because I was injured again and I was getting healthy so it’s always nice to get some matches.
“Yesterday I just came from Auckland and I felt a little bit stiff, not too good but otherwise I’m feeling okay.”
Haas was satisfied with the way he hit ball as he continues his comeback to the game and preparations for a likely last appearance at the Australian Open.
The 38-year-old, who currently serves as the tournament director at Indian Wells, admitted taking some time away from the game made him realise how much he loved playing on the circuit.
“It feels nice to be honest, it’s been a long time,” Haas said after his injury break of 446 days.
“Any time I get a match like this where it counts a little bit and you get back into the swing of things and play in front of a crowd is obviously quite important.
“Because you lose a step and question yourself obviously having not done it for a long time, but overall happy to be back here and possibly my last Australian Open.
“It’s a big hurdle to go after, but what else can you do.”
Haas also announced that he will return to the courts with a new clothing supplier – Sportkind.
“It is a huge motivation for me to start a comeback in 2017 with this new and dynmaic brand. I even have my own collection,” the former World No. 2 told about his new partnership.
Earlier it was local Kooyong product Andrew Whittington who took on Borna Coric in a match that was largely controlled by the Croatian who won 6-3 6-4 as the temperature started to rise.
Women returned to the Kooyong Classic for the first time in 23 years in a match that featured Australian teenager Destanee Aiava who will become the first player born this century to play in a Grand Slam.
The 16-year-old made a very nervous start in the second match, which ended 6-1 7-6, against Sorana Cirstea but played some impressive tennis late in the contest to force a second set tiebreaker.
Results: Tuesday, 10 January 2017
Borna Coric (BEL) def Andrew Whittington (AUS)
Sorana Cirstea (ROM) def Destanee Aiava (AUS)
Ivo Karlovic (CRO) def Gilles Simon (FRA)
6-4 6-7 (1-7)
Jerzy Janowicz (POL) def Tommy Haas (GER)
5-7 6-4 (10-4)