Marinko Matosevic can talk the talk and the fiery Victorian is starting to walk the walk at the Australian Open wildcard play-offs.
The seventh seed seemed at odds with himself and the world as he grunted, groaned and bellowed his way through a scratchy first-round, five-set win on Monday but it was a different story in Wednesday’s quarter-final where he swept aside third seed Luke Saville 6-3 6-2 6-2 .
The former world No.39 admitted he was rusty first-up after a horror 2015 where he picked up a virus in Mexico, dealt with a foot stress fracture and finally a serious back injury.
“I told you guys I just needed that one long match,” a smiling Matosevic said to reporters as he walked off court six at Melbourne Park.
“Match play – that was the difference. When I’m playing matches regularly my level is high, so that was the difference.
“It was chalk and cheese. It came more naturally today – I wasn’t second guessing myself. I can play better than that, obviously, but from the first match it was a much better performance.”
A couple of sessions with Todd Woodbridge, the 30-year-old’s mentor since 2009, also helped iron out the kinks in his game.
Matosevic, currently ranked 296 in the world, set up a semi-final against top seed and world No.120 James Duckworth, who dispatched Marc Polmans 6-4 6-4 6-3 in the first quarter-final of the day.
“I’ve never lost to him, I don’t think I’ve lost a set, so I should win,” Matosevic said.
Unseeded South Australian Bradley Mousley ended second seed Jordan Thompson’s attempt to win his third wildcard play-off in a row in five sets, 4-6 7-5 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.
He will face fourth-seeded Queenslander Ben Mitchell, who needed four sets to progress past Matthew Barton, 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-0.
The men’s and women’s finals take place on Sunday at Melbourne Park with each winner awarded a wildcard into the main draw of the 2016 Australian Open, starting on January 18.