Red-hot Matusevich issues rousing rallying cry after storming into UK Pro League final

·6-min read
Matusevich, 20, clinched the UK Pro League crowns in Weeks 2 and 3 of the prestigious domestic competition (Credit: Ian Hall)
Matusevich, 20, clinched the UK Pro League crowns in Weeks 2 and 3 of the prestigious domestic competition (Credit: Ian Hall)

Anton Matusevich vowed to bring in-form Henry Patten plummeting back down to earth after teeing up a tantalising UK Pro League final, writes Will Jennings.

Kent ace Matusevich, 20, swatted aside Giles Hussey 6-2, 7-5 in Saturday’s first men’s semi-final at the Shrewsbury Club to live up to his billing as the Finals Week favourite.

And that laid the foundations for a mouth-watering final against Suffolk star Patten, who beat experienced Dan Cox in similarly emphatic fashion – 6-3, 6-3 – to keep his hopes of clinching the crown alive.

Matusevich is in ruthless spirits at the salubrious Shropshire venue and asked about the personnel of his final opponent, said: “Bring anyone on – I’ll take them down.

“Let’s do it – Henry and Dan can both play. The goal was to get to the final and take it from there, so I’m pretty happy with myself.

“Tomorrow I will be a bit looser, so I am looking forward to it.

“It was a pretty good match [against Hussey] overall – Giles is a tricky player and he has good hands.

“Lefties are never easy [to play against], but overall, it was alright.”

Nine individual qualifying weeks have culminated in the eagerly-anticipated UK Pro League Finals Week, where the highest-ranked stars descended on the Shrewsbury Club to duel it out for the men’s and women’s trophies.

And as the Premier League of British tennis – and the only domestic competition for the country’s top professionals – with over half a million pounds of prize money up for grabs across the season, all the action is broadcast live on BT Sport, The Tennis Channel and, with the Finals Week also broadcast live on free to air channel FreeSports (Freeview Channel 64 / Sky Channel 422 / Virgin Channel 553 / BT TV Channel 64 / TalkTalk Channel 64).

Matusevich, winner of Weeks 2 and 3 of the competition, safely navigated his way through the Finals Week pool stages before beating Julian Cash – who topped the overall rankings – in the quarter-finals.

And breezing past Hussey – who finished 11th in the standings and received a wildcard entry to Finals Week – extended his record of not dropping a Finals Week set and solidified his status as one of British tennis’ hottest young prospects.

Patten, who won Week 4 of qualifying, required a match tie-break to battle past Sean Hodkin in his quarter-final but hit his straps against Cox, 31, to fly into the final in straight sets.

The 25-year-old is relishing the prospect of duelling it out against Matusevich and having just returned from competing in the United States, said: “Anton has been the favourite all week and before the week.

“He’s the guy with the target on his back and he is proving why.

“I have played him a couple of times before and they have been close but he has got the better of me, so I will be looking forward to it.

“I landed Monday morning, had the day off and played on Tuesday, so it worked out fine. I feel great now – and maybe that’s a recipe for success.”

The women’s semi-finals also served up some stunning tennis as Freya Christie beat Eden Silva in the first of the two clashes.

Christie, who qualified for Finals Week in fifth, is enjoying a Shrewsbury week to savour and continued her red-hot momentum with a dominant performance.

The Nottingham ace toppled two-time week runner-up Katie Stresnakova in the quarter-finals before hauling back a 4-1 first set deficit to turn the tables and beat Silva 6-4, 6-2.

And Christie, who along with Matusevich, Patten and fellow finalist Sonay Kartal competed in last year’s UK Pro Series Finals Week in Weybridge, said: “I really had to reset in that moment [4-1 down].

“I did well to get so many games on a trot and serve out the set.

“I’ll recover now, see the physio and cool down. I will watch a bit of the other semi-final to get some tactics but just relax and look forward to tomorrow.”

And in that other semi-final, it was eye-catching young prospect Kartal who progressed to the Sunday showpiece after stunning wildcard Beth Grey in a pulsating duel.

The south coast star - ranked over 500 places below Grey in the official ITF world rankings - held her nerve to win a heart-thumping tie-break 10-8 after the players were locked at one set apiece 7-5, 6-7.

Kartal, the world No.989, has enjoyed a scintillating run this season as consecutive titles in Weeks 5, 6 and 7 catapulted her into Finals Week contention.

And the south coast star has re-found that form in style this week as memorable wins against world No.215 Lily Miyazaki – in a match tie-break – and then that thriller against Grey propelled her into the final.

Kartal, who grew up playing against US Open champion Emma Raducanu and boasts a winning record against last season's UK Pro Series winner, said: “I don’t even know what happened there, to be honest.

“Beth is very tough to play against – it’s always hard against left-handers and you really have to adapt your game plan.

“Me and Freya have met each other a few times in the UK Pro League this season – it’s going to come down to fine margins and who executes their skills better on the day.”

With a prize fund of around £500k and Broadcast live on BT Sport, The Tennis Channel and, the UK Pro League is the only place where the British player group come together to compete across the full year.

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