Aidan McHugh became the first British boy to reach the semi-finals of a grand slam for nearly five years with victory over Rinky Hijikata at the Australian Open.
There have been lean times for Britain since Kyle Edmund made the last four at Wimbledon in 2013, so it is fitting that in the tournament where Edmund has made his senior slam breakthrough, another young talent has emerged.
McHugh, who was signed by Andy Murray’s management agency in November and can count the former world number one as a mentor, had his most comfortable win of the tournament in the quarter-finals, beating Australian wild card Hijikata 6-4 6-2.
He said: “It was good. I didn’t play that amazing, like my best match, but circumstances and things, sometimes it’s hard to play an amazing match. And he plays a lot different to the other guys, the giants that I’ve been playing. I stayed pretty level the whole time so I was pretty happy with just how I was going about it.
“We’ve had quite a few good girls in the juniors. We’ve had good boys in the juniors but maybe not done as well at the slams. It’s nice to do well and I’ll try and keep going.”
McHugh, who is part of an encouraging trio of British boys along with George Loffhagen and Jack Draper, has a good all-court game – including a single-handed backhand – and is a fine athlete.
He is only 5ft 9in but hopes he has another couple of inches to grow at least.
“I’ve not really had a big growth spurt yet,” he said. “I’ve just been growing little bits at a time.
“My dad is 5ft 11in, my brother is actually a little bit taller. He’s 20 now. Maybe I will get a bit like my brother. He’s really strong as well. It doesn’t matter to be honest if I’m not as tall as the others. I just need to be really quick and maybe use a bit more energy than the other guys.”
In the last four, McHugh will take on sixth seed Tseng Chun Hsin, and he has every reason to be confident having beaten him in last week’s warm-up tournament.
Source : HeraldScotland