RISING star Luke Saville won his first senior match in an ATP tournament by downing countryman Colin Ebilthite 6-3 6-4 on day one of the $50,000 Caloundra International yesterday.
Saville, winner of last month's Australian Open junior title, said he understood the public expectation on him to follow in the footsteps of fellow Aussie young gun Bernard Tomic, but said he wasn't in any hurry.
"I want to be a top-10 player, but at this stage my goal is to make the top 100 within the next two to three years," he said.
"The average age of the players in the top 100 is 27. I've just turned 18, so I've got eight or nine years."
The young South Australian burst out of the blocks, racing to a 5-1 lead against Ebilthite before taking the first set 6-3.
The second set was much tighter, with Saville showing the benefit of recent work on his forehand and second serve with his AIS-based coach Doug Tyson.
"My backhand is my strong suit but I was happy with my forehand today," the teenager said.
"And I wasn't getting any kick on my second serve a month ago. We've been working hard on that and I was pretty happy with how it went as well.
"Overall I thought I played well, especially on the big points."
Tyson said his young charge was at a different stage of his development to Tomic, and this year wasn't about surging up the world rankings.
"The year will be more about making the transition to senior matches. But he's still eligible to play in the French and Wimbledon juniors - they're both great tournaments," he said.
"Luke's just 18. The young guys want to be hitting their straps about 20, 21, 22."
Two other singles matches were played yesterday, with promising Aussie youngster Ben Mitchell downing Britain's Joshua Milton 6-3 6-1 and Switzerland's Henri Laaksonen sweeping aside South Africa's Raven Klaasen 6-1 6-3.
The qualifiers also wrapped up, with four Australians, Maverick Banes, Matthew Barton, Nick Lindahl and Nima Roshan, winning through to the main draw.
Four doubles matches were also decided yesterday.
Saville and his partner Andrew Whittington lost 10-1 in the super tie-break to Sebastien Rieschick (Ger) and Jimmy Wang (Tpe), while other doubles pairings to win were Erik Chvojka (Can) and Adam Hubble (Aus), John Peers (Aus) and JP Smith (Aus) and Taipei pair Cheng-Peng Hsieh and Hsin-Han Lee.
Day one singles winners:
- Luke Saville (Aus)
- Ben Mitchell (Aus)
- Henri Laaksonen (Sui)
Today's action: 13 singles matches starting at 10am, three doubles matches starting no earlier than 2.30pm.
Venue: Arthur St, Caloundra
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