Melbourne, Australia, 12 January 2012 | Leigh Rogers
Australian junior Wimbledon champion Luke Saville crashed out of the Australian Open men’s singles qualifying tournament on Thursday but took positives from his straight-set round one loss.
Saville, who finished runner-up in the Australian Open junior boys’ singles and won the Wimbledon junior boys’ singles title in 2011, was beaten by Ivo Minar from Czech Republic 7-6(3) 6-1 on Show Court 3.
The 17 year-old, ranked 1176, wasn’t disgraced against Minar, ranked 180.
“I’m happy with my performance,” Saville said.
“I stuck with him for the most part of it and he’s a quality player.
“I had a set point there at 6-5 in the first set and missed a backhand long by a couple of inches, so maybe a bit unlucky there and then a few things didn’t go my way in the breaker.
“He kind of got a sniff early in the second set and ran away with it. Unfortunately that is how it goes.”
Saville vowed to keep working hard as he aimed to crack the senior ranks.
“Hopefully I can come back here next year and get through to the main draw,” he said.
“I want to keep on improving my game, get fitter and stronger and hopefully be matching it with these guys soon.”
Another Australian junior talent, 16 year-old Nick Kyrgios, was knocked out in a tough three-setter against Frenchman Mathieu Rodrigues.
Making his grand slam qualifying debut, Kyrgios was not overwhelmed by the occasion, sticking with Rodrigues early in the first set.
He got his first break point opportunity in the eighth game, taking it to lead 5-3. Serving for the first set, Kyrgios was broken to love, as Rodrigues won eight straight points to even it at 5-all. Both players then held to force the first set into a tiebreaker.
Kyrgios was ahead 4-2 in the tiebreak when rain forced players off the court for about an hour. With the help of some cracking forehand winners, Kyrgios was able to wrap up the opening set when they returned to court.
Breaks were traded early in the second, before Rodrigues began to take control of the baseline rallies and took the set 6-3.
With Australian tennis legends Tony Roche and Jason Stoltenberg watching from the stands, Kyrgios was unable to reel in his opponent, with Rodrigues wrapping up the final set 6-2.
Tennis Australia National Academy coach Todd Larkham said his young charge would learn a lot from the loss.
“It was an unbelievable experience and we’re extremely grateful to get a wildcard into the draw,” Larkham said.
“Nick played a good first set, the other guy played much better in the second and third sets, hardly making an unforced error.
“Nick was attacking, attacking but he was just too slow to get to the net. He had to get to the net and serve and volley to win that match but just couldn’t get through the guy on the baseline.
“Hopefully he’ll learn from that and comeback next year and those nerves will be gone.”
Fellow Australian Matt Reid suffered a heartbreaking loss in a marathon match to Italian Gianluca Naso that lasted three hours and 14 minutes.
Reid, aiming to make it past the first round of qualifying in his fourth attempt, took the first set 6-4. Reid showed grit in the second set, saving 10 set points before Naso finally broke through in a tiebreaker to take the match to a deciding third set.
Games went on serve for the opening nine games of the final set.
Reid had two match points while leading 5-4, and on his second, a backhand from Naso was called out by a linesperson. Reid let out a celebratory scream, thinking he had won the match, only for the central umpire to over-rule and deem Naso’s shot in.
With the call rattling Reid, Naso was able to hold to tie the match at 5-all. Games continued to go on serve until 7-all, before some big-hitting from Naso and a double fault from Reid handed Naso the break.
Naso, the world no. 225, then held serve to clinch the deciding set 9-7.
It was a tough day for Australian players at Melbourne Park, with James Lemke and Andrew Harris also bowing out of the men’s singles competition and Viktorija Rajicic and Monique Adamczak eliminated from the women’s singles draw.