SANTILLAN SALUTES IN COMEBACK AT TRARALGON



After sunny skies in Traralgon on Monday, day three began with a rain delay for the first half-hour of play.


For the third consecutive day, a string of Aussies took to the courts at Traralgon Tennis Centre as the final games of round 64 concluded and round 32 began.


Under grey skies, Australian Akira Santillan kicked off day three’s ATP challenger event with a splendid win over opponent Lukás Rosol on Show Court One.


Santillan overcame the fast-serving speed of Rosol to win the first set 7-5. Having not played since June last year, Santillan admitted to feeling a little anxious before the match.


“I started off a bit nervous, but I eventually got comfortable,” Santillan told The First Serve.


Santillan’s serve accuracy proved insurmountable for Rosol, with a total of six aces for the match as he careered away to win in straight sets 7-5, 6-4.


“The last time I played was June and I wasn’t really winning much so it's good to win my first match of the year,” Santillan said.


“I'm pretty happy to win and obviously he’s a pretty good opponent as well so I was just happy with the performance.”


Meanwhile, Aussie David Hough bowed out in straight sets to Frenchman Harold Mayot 1-6, 2-6.


Fellow Aussie Patrick Fitzgerald was also defeated. Despite a second set fight, the Australian went down to Vitaliy Sachko 1-6, 4-6.


As the overcast conditions hovered, Blake Ellis and Brandon Walkin continued their Traralgon ATP challenger campaigns.


Ellis had earlier beaten Australian Calum Puttergill on day two, but a gallant effort wasn’t enough for Ellis who was defeated by Bjorn Fratangelo 4-6, 1-6.


Brandon Walkin was the last of the Australian men to play on day three as he clashed with Slovakia’s Filip Horanský.


After losing the first set 2-6, the Aussie fought hard in the second but Horanský proved too powerful with Walkin beaten in straight sets 2-6, 5-7.


The women’s ITF draw saw the Aussie action continue with Annerly Poulos, Isabella Bozicevic and Roisin Gilheany.


Bozicevic was unfortunately defeated in straight sets losing 1-6, 0-6 as her opponent Jodie Anna Burrage continues her Traralgon ITF campaign in style.


Roisin Gilheany clashed with Croatian Tereza Mrdeža, but it wasn’t meant to be for the Aussie who was defeated 1-6, 1-6.


18-year-old Annerly Poulos faced Argentina’s Paula Ormaechea.


Poulos, who faced arguably her toughest ever opponent in her career to date, showed some fight taking two break points against the former World No. 59.


Poulos couldn’t quite edge clear of Ormaechea in the first set and was then beaten in straight sets 4-6, 1-6. However, Australian tennis fans have an exciting prospect in Poulos to look forward to in the coming years.


There was also a string of international flavour on day three with the tournament's top overseas raiders taking to the court in both the men’s and women’s draw.


China’s Xiyu Wang and the top seed in the women’s Traralgon draw cruised to victory beating Miriam Kolodziejová in straight sets 6-1, 6-1.


Meanwhile, spectators got a glimpse of world No. 141 Jiri Lehecka as he narrowly escaped defeat after coming clear of opponent Uladzimir Ignatik to win 7-5, 6-7, 6-3.


With inclement weather forecast for the remainder of the week, officials are hopeful the rain stays away as the doubles action begins and singles action continues on day four of the Traralgon International.