Fed Express buys into Ben


He’s gonna be a danger man, says Federer mentor.

Even Team Federer is taking a second glance at the Queens­town teenage tennis juggernaut playing the junior Australian Open.

Peter Lundgren, former coach of five-time Wimbledon champ Roger Federer and two-time Grand Slam winner Marat Safin, took time out to watch Ben McLachlan’s first-round singles at Melbourne Park on Sunday.

McLachlan, 16, made the junior tournament main draw along with brother Riki, 17.

Riki came through a tough three-setter to win 4-6 6-4 6-4 in his first round on Monday against Australian Andrew McLeod.

Ben lost his match to Finland’s Henri Laaksonen 6-2 6-4 but the young Queens­towner impressed Lundgren.

“He has a future. He knows how to play the game,” Lundgren tells Mountain Scene.

“He plays the type of tennis you need to win these days – offensive.

“If he gets a bit more meat on his bones and gets to be a bit stronger, he’s going to be a very dangerous player.”

Lundgren says the key from here for juniors like Ben is to keep working hard – “At the moment, the suit is too big – you need to grow into this game.”

The McLachlans’ Queens­town-based coach Lan Bale, who’s in Melbourne with them, is also impressed.

“Ben can be very proud of himself. He didn’t do very much wrong at all. The guy he played is a very good player.
“When you get a guy like Lundgren nodding his head and saying the kid’s got some game, that’s very good.

Although, we already knew that.”

Bale says Riki’s strong finish – he took the final three games when 4-3 down in the final set – was very pleasing.

“He finished the match really well.”

Riki lost his second-round singles against big-serving 15th seed Hsieh Cheng-Peng of Taipei, 6-3 6-1.

The Queenstown brothers are out of the doubles after losing 6-2 6-4 to second-seeded Croatians Marin Draganja and Dino Marcan.

The McLachlans looked like forcing the match to a third set when leading 4-1 in the second but couldn’t quite pull it off.

They’ve been enjoying their first junior Grand Slam outing, mingling with the biggest names – during their doubles, Roger Federer had a practice session on the court beside them.

As main-draw competitors, the Queenstowners have complete access to all facilities.

Riki: “You get so well looked after. You get run around the place, access to the players lounge where it’s free food, free drinks. Everything is organised so well – it’s awesome.”