Tennis: Niland off to flyer but rain halts march
CONOR NILAND yesterday suffered the disappointment of being unable to build on a favourable start in his final round qualifying match in the Wimbledon Championships.
The Irish No 1 had moved into a 4-2 lead in the opening set, after breaking the serve of Croatia's Nikola Mektic at the Roehampton Club in South-West London, when play was interrupted by rain.
And with no let-up in the rainfall over the course of the next few hours, the organisers decided shortly after 3.0 to postpone all unfinished matches until today.
Yesterday was the second day that the Niland-Mektic contest was hit by the weather, with the players being unable to get on court on Thursday due to the fact that the final set in the preceding match on the same court had to be put back until yesterday because of the rain.
Of course, even if the Limerick native goes on to take the first set he will still need to win two more -- with final qualifying stretched to five sets -- to clinch a place in the main draw.
Elsewhere, Ireland's Amy Bowtell furnished additional evidence of her rich promise when running the top seed close in the second round of the ITF Women's Circuit event in Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal, yesterday.
Bowtell was conceding 336 places in the world rankings -- 773 to 437 -- to Venezuela's Andrea Gamiz in the outdoor hardcourt tournament near Lisbon.
But despite that, the Greystones 17-year-old succeeded in pushing her 18-year-old opponent to a 6-3 7-6 (8-6) scoreline.
However, Bowtell's Fed Cup team-mate Julia Moriarty, the No 8 seed, suffered a 6-2 6-0 drubbing by Julia Parasyuk, despite the Russian player being ranked at 813 compared to her 740 mark.
Moriarty also exited in the doubles semi-final. The No 4 seeded pairing of the Irish No 1 and Britain's Yasmin Clarke, winner of the doubles title last week with Bowtell, were edged 4-6 7-6 (9-7) 10-2 (champions' tie-break) by the No 1 seeds Gamiz and Britain's Amanda Carreras.