© 2017 Santaizi Challenger

Matthew Ebden reaches the quarter-final of the 2017 Santaizi Challenger.

Ebden Eager To Build On Federer Foundations

Ebden began 2017 No. 699 in the Emirates ATP Rankings

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.”

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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.

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