Ebden exorcises Open demons
Ebden exorcises Open demons

West Australian Matt Ebden has hurled his Australian Open monkey from his back to beat Nicolas Mahut 6-3 7-5 4-6 6-0 6-3 in an enthralling match at Melbourne Park.

Ebden has been knocked out of the past two Australian Opens in five set clashes after leading two sets to love against players ranked in the top 30.

He again broke clear to a two set lead against the 46th ranked Mahut, then got broken in the first game of the third set and the match changed dramatically.

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Ebden fought valiantly throughout that set but lost 6-4 and the little voice in his head must have started whispering.

That whisper turned into a roar within half an hour as Mahut demolished him 6-0 in the fourth set.

Mahut is most famous for losing an 11 hour match against John Isner at Wimbledon in 2010 when the the fifth set score was 70-68. That's not someone you want to play in a five set contest.

In stark contract, Ebden had a terrible record in long matches. It all began in 2011 when he lost the fourth set tie break against American Michael Russell to get knocked out in the first round.

It continued in 2012 he led 6-3 6-1 against 26th ranked Kei Nishikori but lost in five sets.

Then last year he was two sets up against 25th ranked Russian Mikhail Youzhny but again lost in five sets during a 239 minute marathon.

But this time, Ebden stood tall.

Mahut's serve fell apart under pressure facing a break point early in the fifth set as he hit both serves into the net, giving Ebden the crucial advantage.

The West Australian then saved a break point the next game, immediately served an ace and then held to lead 4-1.

But Mahut refused to quit and he broke back at the next opportunity as the match ticked towards the three hour mark.

An astonishing running cross court forehand passing shot by Ebden in the next game turned the momentum his way and the West Australian capitalised, picking off a Mahut volley to break and lead 5-3.

He held serve in front of a vocal crowd to advance to the second round.

The West Australian

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