The quarter-finals of the $250,000 Australian Open’s blue-ribbon men’s singles have been decided, with some of the sport’s biggest names still lurking ominously in the field.
Only eight players remain in the hunt for the $13,000 coveted singles title now, following two rounds of action at Paradise Point on the Gold Coast today, but three of the contenders are infinitely qualified to still be in the hunt, having scaled the heights in years gone by.
Past champions Brett Wilkie (2009), Aron Sherriff (2010) and Aaron Wilson (2013) are all just three wins away from etching their names into the history books as the event’s second dual men’s singles winner but a number of obstacles confront them on their way to Friday’s final.
Clayton’s Wilson will encounter Warilla’s Harley McDonald in his quarter-final contest, after Wilson eliminated Tweed Head’s Max Jaffray 21-7 and McDonald upstaged former Australian great Ian Taylor 21-8.
Sheriff, Australia’s go-to singles representative from Ettalong Memorial, escaped an edge-of-the-seat thriller against Burleigh Head’s Scott De Jongh Fitzpatrick by a slender shot to book his ticket to the quarters, but must now contend with one-time Australian representative Lee Schraner, after he toppled Sherriff’s Jackaroo teammate Wayne Ruediger 21-13.
Should the two namesakes continue on their winning way, they will meet in the semi-finals.
In the other half of the draw, Queensland National Training Centre player Sean Ingham is through to the quarters after toppling Aus Open Mega Bowl winner Darren Morrison, but will now be tested by the man charged with orchestrating the national high performance program, National Coach Steve Glasson.
Glasson’s form has harked back to yesteryear and has been reminiscent of his heyday, when he became Australia’s first World Bowls Championships singles gold medallist, and despite being past his prime, edged out Mackay’s Bruce Bridger 21-17.
Former world number one Safuan Said, from Malaysia, also remains in contention for a maiden title, after defeating Narooma’s Jay Breust 21-18 in the round of 16 this evening.
Said is no stranger to this stage of the competition, having made the semi-final stages before in 2008, when he fall to eventual champion Leif Selby.
He will put to the sword by Wilkie in the next match, with the winner to play the victor of Ingham and Glasson.
The quarter-final encounters will be staged from 5.30pm on Tuesday evening at Broadbeach.
Men’s singles quarter-finals:
Aaron Wilson v Harley McDonald
Lee Schraner v Aron Sherriff
Sean Ingham v Steve Gasson
Brett Wilkie v Safuan Said
Caption: National Coach Steve Glasson is usually rallying the troops, but now faces the very real prospect of a maiden Australian Open title.