2019 AO Play-off: Luke Saville and James Duckworth set final clash


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2019 AO Play-off: Luke Saville and James Duckworth set final clash

The 2019 Australian Open Play-off at Melbourne Park has reached the last stage, with Luke Saville and James Duckworth reaching the title match that will determine the winner of the wild card for the upcoming first Grand Slam of the season. Despite being the fifth lowest-ranked player in the draw, a former junior number 1 Luke Saville has managed to reach the final, beating the top seed and the last year's Play-off finalist Alex Bolt 6-2 6-4 6-1 in under 100 minutes.

A left-handed Bolt was the favorite but he couldn't play at his best, struggling physically and not being able to impose his shots and move Saville from the comfort zone. Luke moved ahead in the third game after a double fault from Alex and he held at love in the following game after a backhand cross court winner to establish the lead and set the tone for the rest of the match.

Another great backhand pushed Saville 4-2 up and he secured another break with a deep return in the next game, serving for the opener in game eight. Bolt's shots were all over the place and he sprayed a forehand error to hand the set to his rival, having to raise his game if he wanted to challenge for the win.

Instead of that, Saville grabbed another break at the start of set number two with a volley winner, confirming the advantage with a service winner in the following game and wasting more break points in game three that could have sent him further ahead.

Both players served well in the rest of the set and Luke clinched it with an ace in game 10, forging two sets to love lead and moving closer to the finish line. Alex had nothing more left in the tank and he suffered a break at the start of the third set after a poor drop shot that barely reached the net.

Still, he created a break chance in the next game but Luke saved it with a service winner, closing it with another one for a 2-0 lead. Bolt got broken at love in the third game and he received a medical treatment before the next game, struggling with a lower back and abdominal injury.

Saville crossed the finish line with another break in game seven when Bolt's forehand landed long and he will now face the 2nd seed James Duckworth in the title match. 2015 champion was forced to work hard in the opening two sets before he prevailed against Maverick Banes 6-7(4) 7-5 6-1 6-3, seeking his seventh Australian Open main draw appearance.

Banes was off to a perfect start, opening a 4-1 lead before Duckworth broke back in game seven to reduce the deficit and get back on the positive side of the scoreboard. Both players served well in the rest of the set and it was Banes who clinched a tie break 7-4 following a deep return that James failed to control.

Maverick had an early lead in set number two as well but James pulled the break back, scoring another one at 6-5 to take the set and steal all the momentum. He was the dominant figure on the court in set number three, racing into a 5-0 lead and taking it 6-1 to become the favorite for an overall win.

Leading 4-3, Duckworth saved a break point with an ace and he brought the encounter home with another break at 5-3 when Banes netted a forehand. Semi-final results:

[WC]Luke Saville vs [1]Alex Bolt 6-2 6-4 6-1
[3]James Duckworth vs [6]Maverick Banes 6-7(4) 7-5 6-1 6-3