Ebden pleased with steady progress
Originally published on: 15/03/12 11:21
This is a year of breakthroughs for Matthew Ebden. Having already won his first match in the main draw at a Grand Slam tournament and his first Davis Cup rubber, the 24-year-old Australian can now add his first Masters 1000 victory in the United States to his achievements in 2012. Ebden beat Russia’s Igor Kunitsyn 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 at Indian Wells to earn a second-round meeting with Julien Benneteau.
While Bernard Tomic remains Australia’s best hope of future success, Ebden looks likely to be the country’s second highest ranked player for a while to come. He broke into the world’s top 100 last summer, reached the quarter-finals of the Shanghai Masters 1000 event in October and has been building on his success this year.
“It’s been steady progress for me,” the world No.91 said. “I’ve been going up in the last few years, gradually halving my ranking. In the last two or three years I’ve beaten a lot of guys who’ve been up there. It’s about consistently winning the matches all in a row. That’s obviously where you pick up your big strings of points. Then the ranking flies up.
“It’s been a physical development, I think, and a mental and maturity development. I’m not as young as Bernie. He’s obviously developing very young, which is excellent. I’m very happy that he’s doing that. But for me it’s taken a few years.”
Ebden was born in South Africa but lives in Perth in Western Australia. Margaret Court, who won a total of 62 Grand Slam titles, has been a mentor for him. “She’s helped me a lot in the last few years,” he said.
After winning his first match at a Grand Slam tournament at this year’s Australian Open, where he beat Brazil’s Joao Souza in the first round before losing to Kei Nishikori in five sets, Ebden joined his country’s Davis Cup squad to play China at Geelong last month. Tomic, Lleyton Hewitt and Chris Guccione had the tie won by the end of the second day, after which Ebden was given his chance in a dead rubber, in which he defeated Ya-Nan Ma in straight sets.