CONOR Niland’s dream appearance against World Number 1 Novak Djokovic in the US Open turned into a nightmare last night as he was forced to pull out because of food poisoning.
The Limerick tennis player had been sick for two days before the game in Flushing Meadows but bravely tried to square up to the Serbian. However, he was forced to withdraw during the second set, at which stage he trailed 6-0, 5-1.
Niland was clearly under the weather in the opening set as he struggled to get around the court before going down 6-0. And although he held his serve to tie the second set 1-1, he couldn’t keep it up and after being tended to by his doctor on a number of occasions, he decided to pull out.
Britain’s Andy Murray was quick to offer his support to Niland on Twitter last night. “He has been very ill for the last two days,” wrote Murray, “great effort from him going out there.”
Niland reached the US Open after winning three qualifying rounds in New York last week and was delighted to be up against such a high profile player as Djokovic.
“My reaction was really happy - he is the best tennis player in the world,” he told the Limerick Leader at the weekend. “In one of the biggest tournaments, on the biggest court, it will be a great atmosphere,” he added. “I’d rather that than playing a guy ranked 75 on court 17.”
It’s the second disappointment for Niland at a major tennis championship - in July he lost to Adriano Mannarino in heart-breaking circumstances in Wimbledon.
Yet the former Crescent Comprehensive student has made massive strides this year becoming the first Irish player to qualify for back-to-back major events.