Jones' win over Melzer a career highlight
With typical Australian swag, Greg Jones strolled into the second round of the Heineken Open yesterday.
The Sydney-based qualifier wasn't good enough to secure a wildcard entry to the Australian Open - a tournament he's always dreamed of playing in - yet with a bold, nothing-to-lose attitude he wiped Auckland's centre court with sixth seed Jurgen Melzer for a straight sets upset, the most memorable of his fleeting career.
"He's probably the best player I've ever played so to win is an unbelievable feeling," Jones, wearing his "flip flops" post match, said.
"In those bigger moments I thought 'to hell with it' and just had a go."
The 23-year-old's unknown status and the fact he emerged through tough qualifying may have unsettled the world No. 29 Melzer.
Another advantage was the crowd support for the Aussie - surely a first for Kiwi supporters.
"I was fortunate he probably hasn't seen me play but I've seen him a lot on television throughout all the Grand Slams and he made the semis of the French Open," Jones said.
"I've got a huge amount of respect for him and I was probably lucky that I was on my game."
Injuries and self-confidence issues blighted Jones' 2012 form.
His ranking slipped 194 places - from 179 to 373 - but if he can maintain his aggressive tactics in the second round, where he's likely to meet former world No. 7 Gael Monfils, anything is possible.
"I had a diabolical last year to be honest," Jones said. "I was injured for three months with my knee then five weeks at the end of the year with my elbow.
In between that it was probably one large mental injury.
"There was frustration at being injured and seeing my ranking drop every week without being able to do anything about it and then also when I came back I had to play on clay for my knee so it was difficult to win matches."
Having collected just US$260,634 in career earnings - 13-year veteran Melzer has won almost $8 million - Jones couldn't afford to bring any team members or supporters to Auckland.
Luckily, he is well acquainted with Kiwi players Daniel King-Turner, Michael Venus and Rubin Statham. The trio occupied his box while he sent Melzer packing.
"I'm lucky that I'm mates with a few guys in your Davis Cup team.
I travel with them a lot during the year. They were sitting in my box and cheering me on today."