One week in the past, Jiri Lehecka had not received a match in the primary draw of a Grand Slam. Now, he’s an Australian Open quarter-finalist.
The Czech’s model of heavy baseline hitting and silky internet play proved an excessive amount of for sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime to deal with Sunday on Margaret Courtroom Enviornment, the place Lehecka powered to a powerful 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(2), 7-6(3) fourth-round victory.
“Actually, it feels superb,” mentioned Lehecka. “It’s powerful for me to search out some phrases as a result of what we’ve been via final 12 months and now coming again to Australia. [I lost] within the first spherical final 12 months, so in fact if any person had instructed me earlier than the event that I’d play like this, then I wouldn’t consider them, however I am tremendous glad that I’m via and I’m excited.”
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The Second That Modified The whole lot For Jiri Lehecka
The World No. 71 Lehecka fell within the first spherical in any respect 4 majors final season however has upset a sequence of high opponents throughout the primary week in Melbourne. The 21-year-old, who completed his 2022 season on a excessive by reaching the championship match on the Subsequent Gen ATP Finals, additionally upset twenty first seed Borna Coric within the first spherical and eleventh seed Cameron Norrie within the third spherical.
“In fact, all the blokes I’ve crushed over right here, all of them are unbelievable gamers and I will need to have performed my finest tennis,” mentioned Lehecka. “[I had] to indicate all of the playing cards I’ve to beat them. Coric within the first spherical, [Christopher] Eubanks within the second spherical and Norrie, now Felix. It sounds loopy, but it surely’s true, and I’m very glad and so excited to proceed the journey.”
Lehecka has pedigree in relation to stringing collectively victories towards higher-ranked opponents. On his ATP Tour debut as a qualifier in Rotterdam final February, he upset Denis Shapovalov, Botic van de Zandschulp and Lorenzo Musetti to achieve the semi-finals, the place he pushed Stefanos Tsitsipas to 3 units.
That ATP 500 occasion in The Netherlands additionally noticed Auger-Aliassime raise his maiden tour-level title, however the Canadian struggled to search out his finest stage in Sunday’s encounter in Melbourne. That was largely right down to a high-quality all-around show from Lehecka, who matched Auger-Aliassime’s energy from the baseline and often made forays ahead to strain his opponent.
Regardless of dropping the opening set, Lehecka confirmed no signal of panicking in his pursuit of a maiden victory towards a High 10 opponent on the fifth try. He notched his solely break of the match late within the second set to stage proceedings earlier than dominating a pair of tie-breaks to wrap a three-hour, 13-minute win by which he received 80 per cent (33/41) of factors on the internet.
“I felt good even from the baseline,” mentioned Lehecka. “I helped myself with my serve quite a bit. I do know that Felix has an enormous serve. He is aware of methods to end factors after a giant first serve, so I used to be making an attempt to deal with my first function nicely after which after we each went into rallies I felt that I used to be in a position to beat him from the baseline [too].”
The Czech could now have the prospect to avenge his Rotterdam loss to Tsitsipas in his maiden Grand Slam quarter-final, the place he’ll tackle the winner of Sunday night’s conflict between the third-seeded Greek and fifteenth seed Jannik Sinner.