Darian King (FILE)
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The wait isn’t over yet. That fourth ATP Challenger title just continues to elude Darian King, as Barbados’ best tennis player fell short via Sunday’s straight-sets loss in the Oracle Challenger final at Indian Wells.
Facing former world No.24 Martin Klizan, the 25-year-old Bajan ace went up an early break before dropping five games in succession in a 6-3, 6-3 defeat to the veteran left-hander.
It was the second straight loss in as many Challenger finals for King, who dropped the title match at the ATP Stockton Challenger in October exactly one year after winning his last singles crown.
Yet that drought seemed certain to come to an end yesterday after King broke early and then capitalised for 3-1 with a big first serve out wide.
But Klizan simply found another gear, stepping up his level to win five games on a trot and close out that first set with a flurry of forehand winners.
Pouncing on anything remotely short, the Slovakian southpaw dictated every point thereafter before finishing off the rallies with huge forehand passing shots.
He mixed in some deft drop shots in between that put King out of position on even more Klizan winners.
The veteran 28-year-old eventually broke for 3-3 with a pass down the line and quickly held at love with an even better outside-in forehand winner.
Klizan followed up with an equally gorgeous inside-out forehand to break for 5-3 before serving out the set by slapping two lusty backhand passes crosscourt.
However, King managed to work over that Klizan backhand to good effect after getting in a higher percentage of his first serves.
Dragging Klizan wide on a couple of serves, the Barbadian came up with telling forehand winners in either direction to trade holds for 2-2.
But he uncharacteristically missed a pair of backhands in succession and Klizan eventually broke for 3-2 following yet another pinpoint outside-in forehand winner.
King didn’t exactly go away quietly, though, having got the benefit of a lucky net cord deflection before getting back that break with a big forehand crosscourt pass of his own.
Yet that proved to be the extent of his resistance, as the Bajan ace promptly dropped serve at love by shockingly missing four straight forehands.
Klizan won 11 points in succession at one stage before King managed to save one match point while serving down 0-40.
However, Klizan simply slapped another backhand winner crosscourt to put an end to any hopes of a comeback. (JM)