Duckworth the favourite as recent winners look to succeed again.

For James Duckworth this week could make or break his Australian Open summer.


As someone already in contention for an Australian Open wildcard, with a ranking of 120, he was almost guaranteed one if he stayed at his current ranking.


Instead he has chosen to test himself and earn it on his own merit which is exactly what this tournament is all about.


The only problem is this can backfire in a big way.


A loss in the early stages to a lower ranked Australian will ring alarm bells to selectors and provide opportunities to others for a wildcard.


He starts his campaign against Tasmanian Harry Bourchier who has had a solid year with 29 wins and a ranking inside the top 500 in October.


The 19-year-old has promised to break out in a tournament this year and will be looking to do that in the playoff.
Should Duckworth win and make the quarters he would face the winner of one of the fascinating contests in last year’s edition.


South Australian Alex Bolt will face Victorian Marc Polmans again who is fresh from a under-18 championship success last Saturday.


Polmans stunned the field last year with a four set win over Bolt including three tiebreaker set wins.


He will be looking to repeat that this year while Bolt has a lot to prove on the Australian Open arena after missing in singles last year.


At the moment he is out of qualifying and needs a big summer to get himself in contention for singles at the first Grand Slam of the year.


His game can take him all the way. He is a finalist on the Challenger circuit this year and won his first Challenger singles title in An-Ning last year.


He hasn’t beaten Duckworth before though so it will be interesting to see how their form stacks up if the quarter final battle happens.


The bottom half of the draw provides the most interest with Marinko Matosevic involved for the first time since he won the event in 2010.


Since then, as he climbed up the rankings, Matosevic has been in the main draw on his own merit.


This isn’t the case next year as he has fallen to 296 in the rankings.


Consider this, he was facing Andy Murray in the 2nd round of this year’s event on Hisense Arena.
Now he has to win four matches just to advance with a wildcard.


He starts his campaign against Queenslander Maverick Banes and faces the winner of South Australia’s Luke Saville and Victorian Jacob Grills.


Both Saville and Matosevic should get into the quarter finals and it will be a tough battle between them for the semi-final spot.


Matosevic can win the tournament if he replicates half of the form he showed in the Australian summer of 2014.


If he continues his recent form though he will have a tough summer playing the Challenger events in Adelaide and Canberra. He will also need to rely on a qualifying wildcard from Tennis Australia.


The bottom half of the draw is highlighted by two names who have had great success in this event recently.


Jordan Thompson and Ben Mitchell have shared the last four wildcards with Thompson winning back to back wildcards last year in a five set thriller over John-Patrick Smith.


That match, as both players gave everything through cramps and injury, showed just how much the opportunity means to the players.


Thompson will be hard to beat this week following his recent form. Two ITF titles and two Challenger finals have seen the New South Welshman climb to 154 in the world.


Looking to stop him will be Ben Mitchell who won the event in 2011 and 2012.


He was stopped last year by John-Patrick Smith and the year before by Thompson.


The Queenslander knows how to win here and will go close again after winning the Canberra Challenger last month.


Both should make the semi-final with one of them making the final.


Finally look out for the round one battles with two set to be close.


The battle between Matt Barton and Omar Jasika and the contest between Gavin Van Peperzeel and Brad Mousley could both go to five sets.


So who wins the title?


This is tough based on form.


The top half has better player quality but both Duckworth and Matosevic are out of form.


Duckworth has lost two out of his last three matches with Matosevic winning just three out of his 22 main draw matches this year.


In comparison the bottom half of the draw contains two in-form players with Ben Mitchell and Jordan Thompson winning titles in the last few months.


Finally look out for South Australians Luke Saville and Alex Bolt in the top half of the draw who could surprise if Matosevic and Duckworth fail to fire.


Usually previous form means a lot and I can see it happening again this week.


Jordan Thompson is in better form than the previous two years he won the title.


He may be in a harder part of the draw but he has the form to make it three in a row.


PREDICTION – Jordan Thompson


How I see the draw unfolding –


1st round –


(1) James Duckworth (NSW) v Harry Bourchier (TAS)

(5) Alex Bolt (SA) v Marc Polmans (VIC)

(3) Luke Saville (SA) v Jacob Grills (VIC)

(7) Marinko Matosevic (VIC) v Maverick Banes (QLD)

(8) Matt Barton (NSW) v Omar Jasika (VIC)

(4) Ben Mitchell (QLD) v Oliver Anderson (QLD)

(6) Gavin Van Peperzeel (QLD) v Brad Mousley (SA)

(2) Jordan Thompson (NSW) v Matt Reid (NSW)


2nd round – PREDICTION –


(1) James Duckworth v (5) Alex Bolt

(3) Luke Saville v (7) Marinko Matosevic

(4) Ben Mitchell v (8) Matt Barton

(2) Jordan Thompson v Brad Mousley


Semi-final – PREDICTION –


(1) James Duckworth v (3) Luke Saville

(2) Jordan Thompson v (4) Ben Mitchell




(1) James Duckworth v (2) Jordan Thompson



2014 – Jordan Thompson

2013 – Jordan Thompson

2012 – Ben Mitchell

2011 – Ben Mitchell

2010 – Marinko Matosevic

2009 – Nick Lindahl

2008 – Colin Ebelthite

2007 – Joseph Sirianni


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