After Australians completed a clean sweep of qualifying for the ATP 250 Zhuhai on Wednesday, Alex Bolt could not help but marvel at the feat of his compatriot Luke Saville.
Or, more accurately, his feet and the amount of liquid the Australian sweated from them.
Saville, who plays 5th seed Tomas Matin Etcheverry in an opening round encounter at the Huafa Properties Zhuhai Championships, somehow managed to win a match wearing five different sets of shoes.
The former Wimbledon boys champion was forced to borrow his coach’s shoes in the deciding set of victory over Stefanos Sakellaridis in a match played in stifling conditions at the Hengqin International Tennis Centre on Tuesday.
Saville’s feet sweated so profusely his shoes were soaking and, even though one pair was two sizes too big, the Australian felt more comfortable in borrowed footwear.
“I am pretty sure he had to use two other people’s shoes,” Bolt said.
“I don’t quite sweat as much as Luke, so hopefully I don’t have to do that. But he managed to find a way through.”
Bolt (ATP Media Image) who will play former top 10 ranked Argentinian Diego Schwartzman on centre court today, is delighted to be back in an ATP Tour main draw along with his Aussie mates.
The talented left-hander, who reached the 3rd Round of the Australian Open in 2019, had major elbow surgery last year.
It has been a challenging road back to the tour, with the 30-year-old hindered by niggling injuries, but the late-blooming Australian feels capable of making ranking inroads now.
“This year has been very challenging for me, just trying to keep myself healthy and play some consistent tennis,” Bolt said.
“It has not been easy, but now that my body is a bit healthier now, I am trying to value these weeks where my body is feeling good and play some good tennis.”
Fellow Australian qualifiers Marc Polmans and Dane Sweeny will play each other in the opening round later today and Rinky Hijikata will feature in the night session against Frenchman Alexandre Muller.
Bolt said the ranking breakthroughs of compatriots including Aleksandar Vukic, Max Purcell and Hijikata was inspiring those outside the top 100.
“We are a pretty tight knit bunch of guys and to see all these guys break through … it makes us guys who are outside the top 100 believe that we can do it as well,” he said.
“I think Aussie tennis is in a really good place right now.”