Niland tackles US Open

LIMERICK'S Conor Niland is preparing to take a bite out of the Big Apple this week when the Irish number one tennis star attempts to qualify for the US Open.

Conor's prospects are boosted by recent good form which has seen Niland reach the last eight in both Russia and China recently.

Now ranked 156th in the world Niland will be required to win three matches before booking a place in the 128-strong main draw - the qualifying tournament beings on Tuesday while the US Open proper begins next Monday at Flushing Meadows.

And should Conor Niland qualify for the first round proper he will fulfill a personal dream of playing in a Grand Slam event.

The visit to New York will bring back happy memories for the Limerick man. Last year Niland beat Australia's Joseph Sirianni (6-0, 6-4) and forced his way into the second qualifying round of the US Open - the victory represented the Irish tennis star's first win in a Grand Slam. Conor then lost to Columbia's Alejandro Falla, but the Limerick man will hope to re-discover the form which has seen Ireland's most-capped Davis Cup player win five ITF Futures titles, two Challenger Tour events, reach the main draw of the US Men's Claycourt Championships and come within a couple of points of qualifying for the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Most spectacularly of all Niland won the Israel Open in Ramat Hasharon in May and duly collected a winner's cheque for $14,000 - following that win Conor broke into the world's top 200 and duly became the second highest-ranked player in the history of Irish tennis after Matt Doyle.

Conor Niland will be all the more determined at Flushing Meadows since in this year's Australian Open he reached the third round of qualifying only to be denied by Brazil's Ricardo Hocevar in three sets.


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