Stepanek, Tiafoe Close In On Australian Open Main Draw
ATP World Tour veteran and #NextGenATP star one win away
Radek Stepanek, who is bidding to compete in the Australian Open main draw for the 14th time, earned a hard-fought 6-3, 6-7(4), 8-6 victory over Slovenian Blaz Kavcic in two hours and 41 minutes on Thursday in the second round of qualifying. The 38-year-old Stepanek will next look to beat John-Patrick Smith for his place in the 128-player main draw. Smith overcame Kenny De Schepper 6-4, 6-3.
Second seed and #NextGenATP star Frances Tiafoe cruised past Yannik Reuter and will next take on American compatriot and No. 25 seed Tim Smyczek, who defeated Mohamed Safwat 6-4, 6-3. Tiafoe fell in the second round of qualifying in 2016, and is hoping to make his main draw debut.
Sixth seed Bjorn Fratangelo converted five of his 10 break point opportunities to move past Stefanos Tsitsipas 4-6, 6-1, 6-3. He now challenges Hiroki Morita, a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 victor over Uladzimir Ignatik.
Tenth seed Lukas Lacko will face No. 18 seed Denis Kudla in the qualifying round after both players advanced with three-set wins. Lacko, who will be bidding to make his ninth appearance at Melbourne Park next week, knocked out Maximo Gonzalez 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, while Kudla fought back to edge Darian King 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.