Bombers backing young Aussie in grand slam debut
DYSON Heppell and his Essendon teammates have thrown their support behind Australia's Andrew Whittington ahead of his second-round clash against Ivo Karlovic at the Australian Open on Thursday.
Playing in the main draw of a grand slam for the first time, Whittington - a lifelong Bombers fan - beat Czech Adam Pavlasek 6-4 4-6 6-2 6-2 in the first round to set up a showdown with big-serving Croatian Karlovic.
Heppell released a video wishing the 23-year-old all the very best.
"Good on ya fella, congrats on the round-one win and first grand slam win, hopefully you go really well in round two, mate,” he said.
"You've got all your support from all the boys here at Essendon. All the best mate.”
While Karlovic presents a tough contest for the Melburnian, all eyes will be on how the 37-year-old pulls up from his epic, record-breaking first-round win over Horacio Zeballos, which went for five hours and 15 minutes on Tuesday night, eventually finishing 6-7 (6-8) 3-6 7-5 6-2 22-20.
He sent down 75 aces - an Australian Open record - on the road to victory against the Argentinian.
By number of games played - 84 - it was the longest Australian Open match since the introduction of tiebreaks in 1971.
Karlovic is no stranger to playing long matches or Australians.
At last year's French Open he beat Australian Jordan Thompson 12-10 in the fifth and among the 22 five-setters in his career, Karlovic also lost a four-hour classic at the 2009 French Open to Lleyton Hewitt.