Matt Ebden has continued his fine form this year by reaching his second quarter-final in three weeks by advancing at the ATP Tour event in Marseille.
The 33-year-old Ebden, who reached the Australian Open mixed doubles final while making an impressive comeback to singles action too, had to qualify for the Open 13 Provence tournament.
On Wednesday, though, he won his fourth match in succession in the south of France by defeating Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori 6-2 6-2 in the second round.
“Going well in Marseille,” Ebden tweeted after setting up a last-eight meeting with Russian third seed Karen Khachanov.
It follows another quarter-final outing for the globetrotter from Perth, who was defeated by compatriot Alexei Popyrin in the Singapore Open quarters last month.
At the Australian Open, Ebden had waxed lyrical about his desire and determination to make the best out of the 2021 season after the virus-hit campaign last year reminded him of just how much he missed – and loved – the sport.
He seems to be making up for lost time.
After flying from Singapore and winning a match in St Petersburg, Russia, he turned his attention to trying to qualify in Marseille and did so by beating Frederico Ferreira Silva and Mathias Bourgue.
He defeated Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi in the opening round of the tournament but his performance had to go up another notch still as he beat world No.87 Ruusuvuori in an hour and 13 minutes.
Ebden, 200 places behind the 21-year-old Ruusuvuori, defied the rankings to break serve twice in each set to romp to a showdown with Khachanov – where he’ll again have to take his game to a new level.
World No.21 Khachanov, winner of this event two years ago, had a tough fight before finally subduing American Mackenzie McDonald 7-6 (7-4) 6-4.
In their only previous meeting at the Paris Masters in 2018, Ebden had to retire with injury when a set and a break down against Khachanov.
Among the other quarter-finalists in Marseille will be rising Italian Jannik Sinner, winner of the Great Ocean Road Open in Melbourne earlier in the year, and young French talent Ugo Humbert.
Ebden also moved into the quarter-finals of the doubles with fellow Australian Matt Reid, 6-4 7-5 winners over Kazakh Andrey Golubev and Monaco’s Hugo Nys.