Bajan tennis player Darian King (FILE)
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Close, but no cigar. Darian King will have to wait for Roland Garros now, having missed out on making a second successive Grand Slam main draw when he went down under in tonight’s final-round qualifying match at tennis’ Australian Open.
Chasing history yet again, the Bajan ace got some hard line calls before unravelling in the second set of a tough 6-3, 6-4 defeat to 21-year-old Swede Elias Ymer on court 15.
As a result, King fell just short of reaching his second main draw in as many Grand Slams after finally making that major breakthrough at September’s US Open.
And it was doubly painful considering the 25-year-old looked set to become the first Bajan tennis player to ever advance at the Australian Open following two promising straight-sets victories.
But King couldn’t overcome his traditionally slow start and Ymer’s cannon of a forehand in a match that was twice rescheduled due to intermittent showers.
“Well I kept aiming at that forehand because the last time I played him it was hit or miss and he was spraying it all over the place but this time he was making it so he deserved the win,” said King in a post-match interview.
The rain fell again briefly too, and seemingly gave King an advantage when Ymer appeared to have pulled his groin while slipping on advertising paint behind the baseline.
However, King still lost serve in that very same game after Ymer blasted a pair of forehand winners to go up 3-1.
“I think it was kind of a tactic he tried to throw me off my game because he did something like that the last time and it didn’t look like anything was wrong with him,” King reasoned.
Yet the young Swede gave the break right back with two double faults before King survived four break points to level the set at 3-3.
King simply strayed in his opponent’s forehand once too often though, allowing Ymer to hold for 4-3 on two more massive groundstrokes and even bigger first serves.
Ymer then took control, breaking King again with another outside-in forehand pass before serving out the set with a huge ace out wide.
And he very nearly broke again to start the second set with two more forehand winners to put King down 0-30.
But the Bajan ace found fortune in attacking the net and forcing long lobs from Ymer, who subsequently couldn’t handle successive first serves.
King then had a shot at breaking for 3-2 only to see a certain fault get called an ace on break point.
He let Ymer off the hook with two unforced errors before predictably losing serve in the very next game by missing more routine forehands.
Ymer quickly capitalised by holding for 4-2 and then watched as King completely fell apart with unforced errors to lose serve again.
“I was just tired and I have also been sick for the last two weeks here in Australia and I didn’t get to practice for the last two days as it showed,” King explained.
“But he really played well and was the better player on the day and deserved to win this match.”
King did make things interesting though, having broken Ymer easily before holding to put the pressure back on his opponent at 5-4.
However, Ymer came up with yet another outside-in forehand pass and then fired three big first serves to duly close out the match in front his Swedish supporters. (JM)