Racquets: Niland can take positives from Houston exploits
DESPITE his elimination from the US Clay Court Championship in Houston, Texas, Conor Niland can take considerable heart from the fact that he qualified for the main draw of an ATP World Tour event for the first time in his career.
Niland lost out 4-6 2-6 to India's Somdev Devvarman, who is ranked 112 places above the position of 228 held by Niland.
He reached the first round proper by winning three matches, including victory over America's 243-ranked Alex Bogomolov Jnr during which Niland saved a match point in the final set.
As a result of qualifying for the main draw, Niland picked up 12 ranking points.
But despite that, he will still move down a place or two in the world ladder from his career-high mark, because 13 ranking points, which he collected for reaching the quarter-finals of the Baton Rouge (USA) Challenger 12 months ago, now automatically drop off.
As the scoreline indicates, 25-year-old Devvarman, who only turned pro in 2008, called most of the shots in the match, breaking the Munsterman's serve four times.
After his flirtation with the ATP World Tour, Niland returns to the second-tier ATP Challenger Tour for the next two weeks as he continues the chase for world ranking points.
His first test will be an outdoor hard-court event starting next Monday in Leon, Mexico, and that will be followed by a similar-level tournament in Tallahassee, Florida, commencing on April 19.