Ebden Eager To Build On Federer Foundations
Having managed to avoid a major injury in more than a decade of professional tennis, Matthew Ebden was rocked by a six-month absence from competitive tennis in 2016.
Following surgery on a persistent knee injury, the Australian has rekindled his passion for the sport and is hauling himself back up through the Emirates ATP Rankings.
Ebden reached a career-high No. 61 in singles in 2012, he won the 2013 Australian Open mixed doubles title, has six ATP Challenger Tour titles, and is a four-time winner in doubles on the ATP World Tour. However, the 29 year old began 2017 languishing at World No. 699.
A quarter-final run at the Caterpillar Burnie International (l. Jasika) in January signalled his return to form on the ATP Challenger Tour. He then ousted #NextGenATP player Taylor Fritz en route to a quarter-final showing at the Memphis Open (l. Basilashvili) in February, also reaching the doubles semi-finals (w/ Tomic). Ebden is delighted with his steady progress so soon after a prolonged absence.
“I’m absolutely satisfied,” said Ebden referring to his comeback, who was inspired by his training partner at the beginning of 2017. “Last year I had over half the season out injured, but I’ve played really well the last six months. I started the year well in Australia and at the Hopman Cup I got to train with Roger Federer for a few weeks, which was huge, playing lots of sets.”
“It’s a long tour, a long year, you have to play well for lots of matches, week after week. I’m just happy I’m moving really well, playing really well, just got to see what happens.”
Ebden is eager for match practice and qualified for the main draw at the 2017 Santaizi Challenger in Taipei. In the second round the Australian saved a match point in a fighting 6-7(3), 7-5, 6-2 triumph over South Korean Soon Woo Kwon. “That was a world-class match,” Ebden said. “I hope the crowd enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed playing him.”
His run in Taipei was halted in three sets by #NextGenATP player Akira Santillan in the quarter-finals, but Ebden is delighted to be competing again on familiar grounds. He played the semi-finals (l. Kravchuk) of this ATP Challenger Tour event in 2015 and also won the doubles title that year (w/ Chieh-fu).
“I’ve always felt at home playing here,” added Ebden. “I first came here to Kaohsiung in 2013 and went straight to the semi-finals (l. Lu). I really like the conditions here, the people are really friendly and I have a lot of friends amongst the Taipei players. Hopefully winning the doubles with a Taiwanese guy gave me some fans here. I enjoy coming here, I feel at home and I hope the people enjoy how I play.”
Ebden has already halved his ranking to No. 349. His momentum is building and so is his belief.