Monday 27 March 2017

Tennis: Ireland's Davis Cup duo fired up for Oz qualifying clashes

Paddy Hickey

IRELAND'S Conor Niland and Louk Sorensen head into their opening-round matches in the Australian Open qualifying today on the back of morale-boosting wins over their respective opponents.

Niland has been paired against Finland's Henri Kontinen on court 14, and that will be immediately followed by the clash between Sorensen and Monaco's Benjamin Balleret on the same court.

World No 288 Niland scored an emphatic 6-3 6-1 win over 293-ranked Kontinen in the first round of the ITF Futures event in Istanbul last September.

And only last week 287-ranked Sorensen dumped out 230-ranked Balleret in the first round of qualifying in the top-tier ATP Tour Chennai Open in India, 6-0 2-6 6-2.

But Limerick man Niland, who is competing in his third Australian Open qualifying, and Stuttgart native Sorensen, his second, will be taking nothing for granted against Kontinen and Balleret, who are both regulars on their country's Davis Cup teams.

Kontinen, who is only 19, has made a staggering improvement of 1,158 places in his world ranking position over the last 12 months, being placed at 1,451 in December 2008.

To qualify for the 128-strong main draw, which starts on Monday, Ireland's Davis Cup team-mates will have to win an additional two matches this year.

Irish Independent

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