In a round two match, world no. 304 Akira Santillan took on 2016 champion and world no. 257 James Duckworth in what turned out to be a night match at the Apis Canberra International tennis. The match was scheduled for not before 2.30 pm
The previous match on centre court between Blake Ellis and Luke Saville lasted for three hours and seven minutes with Ellis advancing 7-6(4), 6-7(2), 7-6(5). There had also been a women’s match that ran close to three hours between Japan’s Riza Ozaki and the no. 1 seed Arina Rodionova. Osaki winning that match.
Just last week in the Traralgon $75,000 ATP Challenger tournament the pair had met in the first round. It was Santillan that came up the winner back then, winning 7-6(2), 6-3.
In Canberra Duckworth had come through a tight first-round match against Marc Polmans, winning a third set tiebreaker to advance. Santillan was also taken to three sets in his match against Italy’s Alessandro Petrone.
Duckworth had the first break point in the third game of the opening set but hit a shot just long to miss that opportunity. In the sixth game, a well struck Santillan backhand caught Duckworth off balance and he hit his shot into the net. A lucky net cord for Santillan that just fell on Duckworth’s side saw the more experienced play down 0-30. In the next rally, he mishit a forehand and sent it long to be staring down three break points. He saved the first two with aces, then a third was saved with a first serve that hit the line and Santillan mishit. Duckworth got to Ad when he served and volleyed forcing an error from Santillan. Duckworth would eventually hold for 3-3.
Serving at 4-5 down, Duckworth served back-to-back double faults, although the second looked to have been a second serve ace. Duckworth dropped his racquet in dismay as he pleaded with the umpire. On the next point, Duckworth badly missed a forehand to find himself facing two set points. Another unforced error followed and the set was Santillan’s 6-4.
Santillan was looking the more solid player and was more composed. Duckworth was making more unforced errors than his 21-year-old opponent. In the third game of the second set, Santillan fell behind 0-30 before getting back to 30-30. Duckworth then had a look at a breakpoint after Santillan hit long. He saved it after Duckworth failed to get any depth on a lob. The next point Duckworth again lobbed but got it deeper and forced an error from Santillan. This time is was Duckworth forcing the issue with some well-hit groundstrokes that forced an error to get the break.
After a few unforced errors, Duckworth was again facing a breakpoint in the very next game and the pattern continued as he missed a backhand wide. His frustration was showing as he threatened to smash his racquet but managed to restrain himself.
It was now Santillan who was coming up with unforced errors and he was broken for the second time in the set.
A medical timeout came after the seventh game when Santillan called for the trainer to treat his leg. He was playing with tape on his left knee. After Santillan returned to the court he appeared to be moving ok.
Duckworth would go onto win the second set 6-4. In the break between sets, the trainer again was called to treat Santillan.
In the sixth game Duckworth was again in trouble as he fell behind 0-30, then 15-40 after he missed an easy backhand volley. Another unforced error followed to concede the break. Duckworth then slammed a ball he had in his pocket into the back of the court in frustration. I saw the linesman jump.
Santillan was now ahead 4-2 against a frustrated Duckworth. In the game that followed it all got to be too much for Duckworth after he let slip a point that he was in control. As Santillan won the point and jumped in delight, Duckworth was busy smashing his racquet.
He received a point penalty to start the next game at 0-15. He would double-fault to immediately be under pressure at 0-30. After two good points, he got back to 30-30 before his seventh double-fault brought up a match point for Santillan. He saved it with a forehand winner and went on to close out the game.
Santillan comfortably served out the match, helped once again by unforced errors from Duckworth. After 1 hour 45 minutes Santillan advanced with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory. He advances to the quarterfinals where he will take on Spain’s Nicola Kuhn.
In other matches, Jordan Thompson defeated New Zealand’s Rubin Statham 6-2, 7-6(3), Kuhn defeated Max Purcell 6-2, 6-4.
The quarterfinals to be played on Friday see Jordan Thompson vs Blake Ellis, Maxime Javier from France vs Australia’s Jacob Grills and in an all-Japanese match, Yosuke Watanuki plays no. 2 seed, Yoshihito Nishioka.