Adelaide International: Sydney’s Chris O’Connell in to quarter-finals

In just over an hour of playing time Aussie Chris O’Connell powered into the final eight at the Adelaide International in a strong signal of his Australian Open readiness.

But the charge of local lad Alex Bolt ended in emphatic style as No.1 seed Tommy Paul played up to his ranking as the world no.14 with a quality straight-sets win on centre court.

Bolt, from Murray Bridge, had won four matches on the bounce against higher ranked opponents after coming through qualifying and ranked 328 in the world.

Despite expectations of another bold showing, Bolt couldn’t overcome his American opponent who was playing his first game for 2024, going down 6-3, 6-2 after saving two match points in the final game which went for more than eight minutes, the longest of the match.

But while Bolt went down, Sydneysider O’Connell’s Adelaide run continued and he lost just four games in his straight-sets demolition of world No.48 Alexander Shevchenko, winning 6-3,6-1 to secure a spot in the quarter-finals.

The victory continued a 12-month surge for the 29-year-old who was on the verge of the world’s top 50 when he jumped to a career-high ranking of 53 during 2023.

It was a career-best season for O’Connell who advanced to six ATP-level quarterfinals, progressed to the third round at Wimbledon and tallied six top-50 wins with his year-end ranking guaranteeing him a main-draw spot at Melbourne Park.

Having battled injuries for much of his career, O’Connell even stopped playing in 2018 to clean boats with his brother on Sydney’s northern beaches before going back to tennis.

Now based in the Croatian city of Split for most of the year, O’Connell has the opportunity to cement his place in the world’s to 100 and see more grand slam action, having only got past the first round twice in five Australian Opens, making the third round in 2022.

He hasn’t dropped a set at The Drive so far this week and now sits 65th on the ATP’s live rankings, the sixth highest Australian among a massive nine men in the top 100.

O’Connell will face world No.30, and tournament third seed, American Seb Korda for a place in the semi-finals.

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