Classy Niland keeps Ireland in contention
CONOR NILAND ensured that Ireland are still very much in contention after the opening day of the Davis Cup clash with Luxembourg.
The Irish No 1 showed no ill-effects of his recent illness as he blasted the Grand Duchy's No 2 player Mike Vermeer to a 6-1 6-0 6-2 defeat at David Lloyd Riverview last night.
And although Garry Cahill's troops came up short in the second singles rubber, Barry King surpassed all expectations when he took a set off world No 90 Gilles Muller before succumbing 4-6 6-1 6-3 6-3.
In the opening contest, 133-ranked Niland had to work harder than the scoreline suggested to see off the energetic 18-year-old Vermeer, who is ranked No 1,011 and was making his Davis Cup debut, turned in an extremely gutsy and energetic performance.
"I certainly had to hit the ball really well to win the point," said Niland, watched by his friend, Ireland scrum-half Eoin Reddan.
"A lot of the time he was making me play an extra ball. If I had come into the net, he might have passed me because the court is slow.
"It's a bit of a no-win situation when you're playing somebody with a much lower ranking. But I'm glad that I got the job done in three sets and that I set the tone for the team."
Niland surged into a 5-0 lead in the first set. After Vermeer held in the sixth game, the Limerick man had to save a break point in the next game before wrapping up the set with a service winner.
And the next two sets followed a similar pattern.
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