Former Vol John-Patrick Smith won his first career five-set match Monday to move into Wednesday's quarterfinals in the Australian Open Playoffs at Melbourne Park.
Second-seeded Smith fought through a lull in the second set to breeze past 17-year-old Jay Andrijic 6-2, 7-6, 6-1 in a match that lasted about two hours. He now faces seventh-seeded Greg Jones on Wednesday in Australia, which will likely mean a Tuesday evening start time in the Eastern time zone.
Smith's consistency proved to be a difference maker on Monday against Andrijic. The winds picked up as the match wore on, but Smith broke Andrijic's serve seven times over the three sets and only dropped serve once.
Andrijic came back from 3-1 down the second set and eventually held serve for a 5-4 lead, but Smith won the last three games to retake the momentum. The third set went quickly as Smith reeled of six games in a row to advance to the quarterfinals for the second year in a row.
While Smith is in familiar territory, he told local media outlets he hardly feels like the same player he was a year ago. He has now completed a full year on the professional circuit and is now the sixth-ranked Australian.
The winner of the 16-player tournament receives a main draw wild card into the Australian Open, Smith's home major. The four-time All-American hails from Townsville, Queensland, but he has based most of his professional training in Knoxville since turning pro in 2011.