Jasika Excelling On Home Soil
Rising Aussie into semi-finals of Happy Valley Challenger
Some players feel pressure playing in front of a home crowd, but Australian teenager Omar Jasika has been thriving on it.
The Tecnifibre player finished 2016 by reaching his first ATP Challenger Tour semi-final in Canberra, and has started 2017 with his career-best result. Competing at this week’s $75,000 event in Happy Valley, the 19-year-old wild card from Melbourne upset fifth seed Norbert Gombos in the opening round and took out fourth seed Peter Polansky in the quarter-finals. On Saturday, he fought through Joris De Loore to prevail in a third-set tie-break and advance to his first Challenger final.
“I love playing at home and enjoy playing in front of the Aussie crowd,” said Jasika. “I had a pretty good off-season back at home in Melbourne with my dad. I’ve been working on my game a lot, trying to get fitter and stronger. It’s starting to pay off.”
Jasika also had another milestone moment in between his two solid Challenger results. He prevailed in December at the Australian Open wild card playoffs, defeating some of the best players in Australia to earn a main draw berth into the first Grand Slam of the year.
“Reaching my first Challenger semi-final gave me a lot of confidence going into the playoff. Entering a tournament with a few wins under your belt is only a good thing,” said Jasika. “Since I’d made one semi-final [in Canberra], I knew that I could do it again and even better.”
The Aussie is looking to produce similar results throughout 2017 in order to crack the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings. He’s also confident that some of the other young Aussies moving up the rankings, including Alex De Minaur and Marc Polmans, will join him in that upper echelon.
“There’s a lot more young Aussies coming up than what we had in the past few years,” said Jasika. “It’s definitely a good thing and we’re all motivating each other to get better.”