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Tennis: Soaring Sorensen aims for new heights

LOUK SORENSEN has set his sights on breaking into the top 150 of the ATP singles world rankings by the end of this year.

That seems an attainable target for the Ireland Davis Cup ace following his massive move up the rankings in the wake of his run in the Australian Open.

Prior to Melbourne, Sorensen was placed at 284 on the world ladder, but, after battling his way to the second round of the main draw, he has improved a whopping 71 places to 213.

"Hopefully, it won't be too long before I break into the top 200," said Sorensen, whose previous career-high ranking was 247 set in March 2008. "And with almost 11 months left in 2010, I should have a decent chance of making the top 150 by the end of the year."

The 25-year-old right-hander collected a total of 70 ranking points for his exploits in Melbourne -- 25 for winning three matches in qualifying, and 45 for his first-round victory in the main draw.

In the aftermath of the Australian Open, Sorensen bowed out in the first round of last week's ATP Challenger Tour event in Heilbronn, Germany, and this week's corresponding tournament in Kazan, Russia. But the brace of defeats hasn't diminished his optimism that he can achieve his rankings goal by next December.

"With the advantage of hindsight, maybe I should have taken a break from tournaments after the Australian Open," he said. "I definitely was not at my sharpest in either the Heilbronn or Kazan tournaments."

In his quest for a place in the top 150, Sorensen will take particular encouragement from two of his four successes in the Australian Open.

In the second match in qualifying, he put 159-ranked American Michael Yani to the sword on a 6-4 3-6 6-3 scoreline.

And in the first round of the main draw, he pulled off a shock 6-4 3-6 6-2 6-1 success over Chinese Taipei's 101-ranked Lu Yen-Hsun, who in last year's Australian Open dumped out former Wimbledon finalist David Nalbandian of Argentina.

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"Those two wins show that I can hold my own with players ranked considerably higher than myself, and that gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of the year," he added.

Sorensen's upward move means that he now becomes the third highest ever Irish player in the world rankings -- behind Matt Doyle, who peaked at 65 on March 15, 1982 and his father, Sean, the current Ireland Davis Cup team boss, who achieved his career-high figure of 203 in December 22, 1980.

In squash, Irish women's No 2 Aisling Blake took encouragement from her best performance against National No 1 Madeline Perry on Monday.

After the Sligo native had won one match in qualifying to clinch a place in the main draw, the international team-mates were drawn against each other in the first round of the Burning River Classic in Pepper Pike, Ohio. Having not come close in four previous meetings, Blake pushed pushed Perry to the distance, eventually losing by three sets to two (8/11 11/7 8/11 11/1 11/9).

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