Stars on a quarter-final collision course at $140,000 Aus Open

by admin on February 18, 2014

The quarter-finals of the blue-ribbon men’s and women’s singles have been locked in at this year’s $140,000 Australian Open, with a handful of the sport’s biggest names now set on a collision course to advance towards the coveted crown. Some tantalising quarter-finals action will erupt on the Darebin International Sports Centre greens from 8.30am tomorrow, with both gender’s world number ones remaining in the hunt for the prized silverware and $18,0000 first-placed cheque that accompanies it. Current world singles champion, and the sport’s number one player, Leif Selby headlines the men’s draw, with a mouth watering quarter-final encounter against Australian vice-captain Brett Wilkie confirmed. Both players have previously scaled the Australian Open dais, with Selby the 2008 and 2011 singles gold medallist, while Wilkie claimed the 2009 event, but only one will remain in contention for the chance at a repeated finals berth. In their side of the draw, 25 year-old Aussie Jackaroo Matthew Baus will encounter Mark Ryan, while on the opposite section 139-game international veteran Nathan Rice has kept his hopes of a maiden Australian Open singles title alive after knocking off national teammate Barrie Lester. Rice, who fell agonising short on the final hurdle to Club Helensvale teammate Mark Casey in 2012, will lock horns with dual NSW bowler of the year Ray Pearse, with the remaining two positions earned by former Australian development member David Ferguson and Nathan Wilson. In the women’s event, three Australian Jackaroos remain in the running, alongside the reigning champion and a Malaysian international. World number one Karen Murphy, national captain Lynsey Clarke and Commonwealth Games silver medallist Claire Turley are the three green and gold representatives to secure a quarter-final ticket, while Lisa Phillips will look to obtain back-to-back titles, and Emma Saroji carries the hopes of Malaysia on her shoulders. In the top half of the draw, Turley is set to encounter defending titleholder Lisa Phillips, who has her sights set on becoming the first female to go back-to-back and also the event’s first triple winner in the discipline, while 2012 singles champion Clarke faces NSW young-gun Natalie Noronha. On the other side of the ledger, Murphy will square off against her 2011 Australian Open pairs winning partner Kay Moran. Whilst often teammates, the pair are also accustomed to competing against each other on the Darebin greens, having played off for gold in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games pairs final – which Murphy won against then Scottish representative Moran. Australia A squad member Anne Johns has secured the remaining position against Saroji. Saroji is just three wins away from becoming the first international winner in the women’s singles since Scotland’s Joyce Lindores claimed the 2010 crown, but will not the first of her countrymen to claim the honour after Siti Zalina Ahmed hosted the trophy aloft back in 2007. Caption: World number one Leif Selby is on the hunt for his third Australian Open singles crown