25 Jan 2017

Qualifier Efstathio into Australian Open quarters

News Article

By Sandra Harwitt

Photo: Corinne DubreuilMenelaos Efstathiou (CYP)

MELBOURNE - Qualifier Menelaos Efstathiou of Cyprus has overcome a one-set loss in all of his three main draw matches at Melbourne Park to find a path to the Australian Open quarterfinals.

On Wednesday, the 125th-ranked Efstathiou upset sixth seed Duarte Vale of Portugal 67 (2) 64 64 to reach his first Grand Slam quarterfinal at his first Grand Slam tournament.

The 2 hour, 32 minute match found Efstathiou saving nine of 14 break points he faced, while breaking Vale on seven of 13 chances presented.

“I started good the second set so I believed I could make it,” he said. “I continued playing and it went very good. I never played him before, but I saw him at many other tournaments, so I knew a bit how he played.

“This is a really big experience for me,” he added, smiling.

When you’re a Cypriot junior there’s no doubt that Marcos Baghdatis, the 2006 Australian Open finalist, is the player to look up to as you hope to find a path into the pros. It was only a few days ago that Efstathiou had the occasion to formally meet Baghdatis for the first time.

“I’ve only known him because when I was small I used to ball boy for him at the Davis Cup, but I never talked to him so much,” Efstathiou said. “When I came here I went to talk to him for a couple of minutes. I introduced myself to him because he didn’t know me as a person.”

Of further excitement for Efstathiou is that in just over a week he will be representing Cyprus against Turkey in a Davis Cup home tie for the first time.

“That will be a very big experience,” he said. “I will play the singles and it will be so exciting. The people will cheer for us.”

Efstathiou wil play fourth seed Yshai Oliel of Israel in the quarterfinals. Other quarterfinal pairings are top seed Wu Yibing of China against Alexey Zakharov of Russia, 15th seed Zsombor Piros of Hungary against Matteo Martineau of France, and fifth seed Corentin Moutet of France against Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland.

The 11th-seeded Marta Kostyuk of the Ukraine is making her Grand Slam junior debut at this Australian Open, and so far it is going very well for the 14-year-old talent.

Kostyuk upset sixth-seed Jodie Anna Burrage of Great Britain in an exhausting 67 (5) 61 64 to move onto the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

“I’m so tired,” she said, playfully hanging her tongue out of her mouth to show fatigue. “We played two hours. It’s so tough.”

In actuality the match finished 6-minutes shy of the two-hour mark, but offered the seesaw drama to nearly the end of the encounter. Kostyuk led 4-1 in the third set, but even then she wasn’t going to sail to the finish line as Burrage fought back even before surrendering.

“It wasn’t my best day or my good day at all,” Kostyuk said. “I was up at first in the first set when I started playing like a girl who is playing in the under-10s. At 4-all in the third set I started to think about good things.”

One special off-court happening Kostyuk is hoping for is to meet a very famous pro this week. And she has the inside track on that particular player.

“My manager is Ivan Ljubicic,” she said, of the Croatian former player, who also serves as a coach here for Roger Federer. ‘I’d like to meet Roger. I will hope. He did sit at a table next to me.”

Ljubicic was on hand for the first set of Kostyuk’s match on Wednesday, but then Federer duty called as the 17-time champion was practicing for his semifinal appointment against Stan Wawrinka.

Kostyuk will play unseeded Liang En Shuo in the quarterfinals. Other quarterfinal pairings pit top seed Rebeka Masarova of Switzerland against 10th seed Mai Hontama of Japan, fourth seed Emily Appleton of Great Britain against seventh seed Bianca Andreescu of Canada, and 16th seed Elena Rybakina of Russia against unseeded Zeel Desai of Indonesia.