Monday 19 March 2018

Game, set, match as Conor hits Wimbledon

Barry Duggan

IT was game, set and match for two Irish parents who jetted off yesterday to watch their son at the world's most-famous tennis tournament.

Tomorrow, Conor Niland from Limerick will become the first Irish player since Matt Doyle in 1984 to play at Wimbledon.

And if he wins, he is likely to face tennis legend Roger Federer in the second round.

Ray and Pat Niland departed from Shannon Airport yesterday for the All England Lawn Tennis Club in London.

Their 29-year-old son secured his entry after beating Croatia's Nikola Mektic in the qualifiers at Roehampton in London on Saturday.

"He is there now and we are thrilled," said Conor's mother Pat. "I can understand how he felt, it was the biggest thing ever for him. In the future, everybody will always ask him: 'Did you play Wimbledon?' Now he will and we are delighted for him.

"We will stay over there until Wednesday or Thursday, but who knows, we could be there for two weeks," she added.

Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, who is ranked 53rd in the world, will battle Conor in their match tomorrow with the winner expected to face Federer in the second round.

While developing his game as a junior player at Limerick Lawn and Tennis Club, Conor defeated Federer at U14 level.

And for making it into the first round, Conor is guaranteed a purse just shy of €12,500.

"He'll have great confidence now that he has made it this far and has reached Wimbledon," Conor's mother said.

"From here on in, he can relax and play good tennis and we'll all be there to support him."

Irish Independent

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