Jasika surges to Aust Open playoff final

Rising star Omar Jasika has demolished Chris O’Connell in straight sets to book his place in the final of the Australian Open wildcard playoffs.

Days after dispatching of former world No.39 Marinko Matosevic, 19-year-old Jasika powered his way to a 6-1 6-1 6-2 semi-final victory on Friday at Melbourne Park.

Cheered on by ‘Omar’s Army’, it quickly became obvious the 2014 US Open boys’ singles champion was a class above O’Connell.

With the first set over in barely 20 minutes, the second looked destined for a similar fate before rain forced the players off the court.

Jasika didn’t miss a beat when play resumed 40 minutes later, hitting a series of dazzling forehand winners to ice the second set.

O’Connell had impressed on his way to the semi-final, the 22-year-old claiming an upset win on Wednesday over Sam Groth.

But there was little he could do to stop Jasika, who will face Queensland’s John-Patrick Smith on Sunday for a wildcard entry to the main draw of January’s Australian Open.

“I didn’t think I was going to play that well, to be honest. I think I played extraordinarily well,” Jasika said.

“He had a pretty tough match against Groth the other day so that could have affected him a little bit, but he actually looked not too bad out there. I just think I played a lot better than I needed to.”

Jasika said he was in top shape heading into Sunday’s final, having spent the past few months tweaking his game.

The Melbourne native played Smith in last year’s Australian Open qualifiers in what proved to be one of his longest matches.

“It was about three-and-a-half (hours),” Jasika said.

“It was best of three sets and I think I got him 12-10 in the third. Hopefully, it’s not that long again but it’ll be definitely a good match.

“I always seem to play good tennis on these courts and I’m feeling pretty confident in my game.”

Fifth-seeded Smith was earlier tested by NSW’s Blake Mott but surged home in the fourth set to secure a 7-6 (7-2) 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 6-0 victory.

Smith, who defeated top seed Andrew Whittington in the first round, again relied on strong serves and a patient defensive game.

The 27-year-old rarely went on the attack, instead tempting 20-year-old Mott to take risks and forcing errors.

“It was good to get off the court quick and save some energy,” Smith said.

“Everyone’s playing so well. I think it’s anyone’s game right now. I’ve just got to rest and recover and get ready for Sunday.”

AUSTRALIAN OPEN MEN’S WILDCARD PLAYOFFS – DAY THREE:

* 5-John-Patrick Smith def 8-Blake Mott 7-6 (7-2) 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 6-0

* Omar Jasika def 6-Chris O’Connell 6-1 6-1 6-2

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
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