Familiar faces lurking at Aus Open
There is a hint of familiarity with the men’s semi-finalists for the 2014 Australian Open following today’s quarter-finals at the Darebin International Sports Centre…but only a hint. It has been five years since Club Helensvale’s Brett Wilkie won the nation’s richest event in 2009 when he defeated WA’s David Opie in the final, but the former world number two is on the verge of another, only his second, after a hard-fought win over another former winner, and current world singles champion, Leif Selby 21-13. In match that was extreme close throughout, Wilkie managed to string seven of the last eight ends together to secure a semi-final berth. Selby’s biggest lead was three shots after the seventh end when he banked a full count to take a 7-4 lead. Wilkie will now face Victorian Mark Ryan, 30, from Shepparton Park Bowls Club who enjoyed a 21-15 victory over Australian squad member, Raymond Terrace’s Matthew Baus. Ryan’s best result at the Open was a semi-final berth in 2009, which he lost to David Opie, who succumbed to Wilkie in the $18,000 first-placed decider, Ryan’s opponent in today’s semi-final. Ryan, whose sister Carla is a professional race cyclist and two-time national champion, is an all-round sportsman himself, having competed in three half ironman events and plays Australian Rules Football in the in the winter. Ryan collected wins on 12 of the 20 ends played against Baus with his biggest advantage being eight shots when the 17 th end concluded. The other familiar name in the semi-finals is Wilson – although this time not the Aaron Wilson who created headlines 12 months ago when he claimed the blue-ribbon singles – it’s his brother, Nathan Wilson. Wilson, the younger brother Aaron, advanced through to set up a semi-final battle against Ray Pearse with a 21-14 win over Wagga RSL’s David Ferguson. Consistent throughout, Wilson failed to collect a larger count than two on any one end but won 13 of the 24 ends played to salute and set up the semi against Pearse. Pearse was dominant in his match against Australian Trans-Tasman representative and Club Helensvale stalwart Nathan Rice with a comprehensive and surprising score line of 21-3. The men’s semi-finals are set down for 1.30pm this afternoon with Wilkie and Ryan squaring off while Pearse and Wilson will go head-to-head for a coveted finals spot at Australia’s richest bowls event, the $140,000 Australian Open.