Tuesday 20 February 2018

Tennis: Rising star Morrissey defies odds to march on

Paddy Hickey

YOUNG Dubliner John Morrissey produced the main fireworks on the opening day of the Green Property Irish Open at the Fitzwilliam Club yesterday.

Playing in only his third adult world-ranking event, Morrissey caused a massive upset when he dumped out Georgia's Lazare Kukhalashvili 6-2 6-3 scoreline.

Morrissey (17) headed into his match as a rank outsider, with his Dublin-based opponent possessing a world ranking of 1,235.

But the home player, who has competed in all the U-18 Grand Slams, showed tremendous confidence and composure for such a young competitor.

From an early stage it was clear that he was really up for the challenge against Kukhalashvili, who practises at Tennis Ireland's National Training Centre in DCU.

An early break in the opening set was just the fillip that the Blackrock lad -- who has a world U-18 ranking of 60 -- needed, and he put Kukhalashvili on the back foot for most of the contest.


As a result of his success Morrissey, who received a wild card into the main draw, picked up his first senior world ranking point and he will enter the world ladder at approximately 1,441 next Monday.

Tomorrow, Morrissey takes on either the No 4 seed, Belgium's Alexandre Foie, or France's Simon Cauvard, who meet today.

Davis Cup ace James McGee joined Morrissey on the victory rostrum, registering a 6-4 6-3 victory over Australian qualifier Matthew Barton.

But James Cluskey, who partnered Barry King in the doubles rubber in the Davis Cup clash against Lithuania 10 days ago, bowed out of the tournament.

The 6ft 5ins Dubliner was at almost a 500 places deficit in the world rankings -- 1677 to 1180 -- against Dutch qualifier Xander Spong, but he raced through the first set, dropping just one game.

Spong did likewise in the second set, but the decider was balanced on a knife-edge, the visiting player needing a tie-break to prevail on a 1-6 6-1 7-6 (7/5) scoreline.

Today, Carlow's Tommy Murphy, who shocked the No 2 seed, Slovakia's 1,166 Marko Danis in qualifying, takes on Malta's 924-ranked Matthew Asciak, and Mayo man Daniel Glancy faces top seed Joshua Goodall of Britain.

Irish Independent

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