The battle of wildcards in the Australian Open men’s doubles second round featuring Dane Sweeny and Li Tu of Australia versus Treat Huey of the Philippines and Christopher Rungkat of Indonesia went in favor of the Australians, 7-6(6), 6-4, at the Kia Arena in Melbourne Park on Friday.
The thrilling neck-and-neck first set, with the Australians saving a break point in the third game, saw the first break of serve in the 7th game. Huey and Rungkat advanced to 4-3, courtesy of a double fault by Sweeny.
As the Filipino-Indonesian tandem was serving for the set at 5-4, the Australians capitalized on three break point opportunities, claiming their first break of serve to level at 5-5. Both teams held serve in the next two games to force a tiebreak.
Huey and Rungkat were the first to get a mini break to lead at 3-2. A forehand smash winner extended their lead to 5-3 and a backhand unforced error from Sweeny gave them three set points at 6-3.
The Australians stepped up their game by claiming the next four points with winners, resulting in a set point at 7-6. A backhand down the line from Sweeny sealed the tiebreak for the hometown bets, 8-6.
Sweeny, 20, and Tu, 25, continued their run in the second set with a 4-0 edge over the veteran doubles specialists. Huey, 36, and Rungkat, 32, were able to get on the scoreboard in the 5th game to trail at 1-4.
As Sweeny and Tu were serving for the match at 5-2, a double fault awarded Huey and Rungkat two break points. A backhand volley winner from Huey successfully converted the second break point, cutting the deficit to 3-5.
Huey and Rungkat then quickly inched closer, 4-5, with a love service game that ended with a forehand winner.
Serving for the match for the second time, the Australians earned two match points and secured the second one with a forehand winner from Sweeny, 6-4, much to the delight of the hometown crowd.
En route to the second round, Sweeny and Tu received a walkover from No. 16 seeds Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan and Franko Škugor of Croatia, while Huey and Rungkat overcame Rohan Bopanna of India and Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France, 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-2.
Filipino-American Huey, the ATP Doubles No. 137 with a career high of No. 18 in 2016, reached the Australian Open men’s doubles quarterfinals twice: with Dominic Inglot of the United Kingdom in 2014, and Max Mirnyi of Belarus in 2016.
His best result at the Australian Open was a mixed doubles semifinal finish with Andreja Klepac of Slovenia in 2016. In the same year, he and Mirnyi reached the Wimbledon men’s doubles semifinals. In 2013, Huey and Inglot had a quarterfinal finish at the US Open.
Prior to this year’s first grand slam, Huey reached the Round of 16 in Adelaide International 1 and Adelaide International 2 alongside Frederik Nielsen of Denmark.