Photo: Corinne DubreuilNikola Milojevic (SRB)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA: The heat returned to Melbourne Park on Thursday and top seed Nikola Milojevic (SRB) duly wilted as he was beaten in the big shock of the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.
While most of the leading contenders for the first grand slam title of the year sailed through to the last four, Milojevic was worn down by Italy’s Filippo Baldi 26 63 63.
Baldi, who speaks fluent English and Spanish, recovered well and showed superb fitness in the deciding set to set up a clash with in-form Australian Nick Kyrgios.
Kyrgios has won two grand slam doubles titles but his 61 61 drubbing of seventh seed Wayne Montgomery took him into his first singles semifinal.
Montgomery, appearing in Melbourne with the help of a grant from the Grand Slam Development Fund, admitted he was outclassed.
“I didn’t play my best, obviously, but all credit to him, he served well as always and he started with a bang and that was it,” the South African said. “He killed me last week (in the final of Traralgon) as well, so it’s not a good record against him.”
Montgomery was satisfied after matching his run to the quarterfinals at last year’s US Open and paid tribute to the financial help he had received. “Thanks to (the Grand Slam Development Fund), otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting here, he said.
“I would like to thank them a lot. The grant is very important to me because the South African Federation is struggling for money and the ITF can help a lot of people. I’m very grateful.”
Like his fellow South African, Kevin Anderson, Montgomery said he was planning to play tennis at college in the United States, once he has finished his final year of school.
“I’m looking at colleges and speaking to them so I’m definitely interested in doing that,” he said. “It’s probably one of the best ways to (make it in tennis), If you go pro and get injured, and you’re No 170, on the brink of making it, you’re out, you can’t do anything.
“You’d feel like an idiot if you studied at 24, so college is the best option, they pay for you to go and play Futures events and take care of you with sponsors and everything.”
For the first time since 2006, Australia has two boys in the semifinals after Thanasi Kokkinakis edged out second seed Gianluigi Quinzi of Italy 76 26 86.
“I really wanted that one,” the 16-year-old said. “He beat me in the Junior Davis Cup final last year so that is a big win for me.
“I just tried to stick in there with him. He broke me when I served for it at 5-4 but I played a good return game to break and then served it out. I’m very happy with that.”
Kokkinakis will play 11th seed Borna Coric in the semifinals after the Croatian, who counts former world No 1 Goran Ivanisevic among his friends, beat Matej Maruscak of Slovakia 63 62.
In the girls’ event, second seed Katerina Siniakova defeated Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko 62 62 to set up a clash with 10th seed Anett Kontaveit, an impressive 61 63 winner over fourth seed
Antonia Lottner of Germany.
Third seed Ana Konjuh (CRO), the winner of the Orange Bowl in December and the favourite for the title in Melbourne, saw off Czech Barbora Krejcikova 64 64 and now plays unseeded
Russian Elizaveta Kulichkova, who ousted eighth seed Elise Mertens of Belgium 64 75.