Monday, November 22, 2010

Niland shoots up the world rankings

LIMERICK tennis star Conor Niland has reached a career high ranking of 131 in the world after his weekend victory in the Salzburg Indoor Open. The 29-year-old Mungret man claimed the top prize money of €6,150 and moved up 16 places in the latest ATP rankings. Ireland’s number one ranked player defeated the unseeded Jerzy Janowicz in this Sunday’s final - 7-6, 6-7, 6-3.

The victory in the ATP Challenger Tour event in Austria earned Niland 80 ranking points and edged him closer to his dream of entering the world’s top 100.
The win marked Conor Niland’s third singles title on the second-tier Challenger circuit, his previous similar achievements having been in the Israel Open, in Ramat Hasharon, last May and the New Delhi Open, India in August 2008.
Conor Niland’s win in Austria comes just one week after reaching the semi-finals of the Loughborough Challenger.
The Limerick man will have little time to savour his success however as today he faces a long-haul flight to Japan for this week’s Challenger event in Toyota.
Niland’s new ranking would have been high enough for him to make the main draw of this week’s more lucrative Challenger in Helsinki, but he wasn’t aware of that when he accepted a place in the Japan tournament.
In Japan’s Dunlop World Challenger Niland is seeded number two. In his last event of the year he will face Japanese qualifier Yasutaka Uchiyama in the first round on Tuesday.
In yesterday’s final Niland was a two sets to one winner against his Polish opponent.
In a gripping and roller-coaster final the eighth-seeded Limerick man saw off the challenge of the unseeded left-hander on a 7-6 (7/5) 6-7 (2/7) 6-3 scoreline.
After 183-ranked Janowicz levelled at one set all, an early break in the third set gave Niland the boost he needed and subsequently he was never in danger of dropping his serve en route to closing out the match.
Niland reached the final after the number two seed Karol Beck withdrew ahead of their semi-final with a foot injury. In the quarter-finals on Friday afternoon Conor Niland defeated Spain’s Ivan Navarro 7-5, 6-3.
Conor Niland is a member of the BNP Paribas National Tennis Academy based at the National Tennis Centre in DCU. He trains there under the guidance of Tennis Ireland Technical Director, Garry Cahill.

Jerome O'Connell


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