King makes the grade

First, it was Daniel Nguyen, then Nicolas Jarry. And now Lukas Lacko has become the latest victim as Barbados’ best tennis player Darian King came from a set down to create history by reaching the main draw of the US Open.

The three-day journey started on Wednesday at Flushing Meadows in New York City when King took to court 5 where he totally outclassed American Daniel Nguyen in straight sets 6-2, 6-1.

He had previously defeated Grega Zemlja last year making it the second consecutive time he won his opening round qualifying match.

King’s victory over Nguyen meant that he played Chilean Jarry who is ranked world No. 130 yesterday in an impressive one-hour and 16-minute game which he won 7-6, 6-3 leaving Slovakian Lucas Lacko standing in the way of his chance to feature among the greatest names in world tennis.

Last year King went out in the second qualifying round to Aleksandr Nedovyesov. However playing against the odds in what could be considered the most important game of his life, the 25- year-old survived a scare to write his name on history’s page.

King was out of the blocks early leading the first set 2-0, but Lacko quickly found his rhythm equalling the set at 2-2. He then went on to command the remaining points eventually taking the first set 6-3.

At this stage in the match king knew he had work to do and he responded quite well in a very close set which was tied at 2-2, 3-3 and 4-4. But King managed to grind out the points to win 6-4 and force a third set.

King definitely regained his confidence in a do or die set for both players. It was a matter of who wanted it more and King proved to be the hungrier. What started as a tight set early on, ended in Barbados’ top seed booking his place in the next round draw with a 6-3 win.

Speaking to Barbados TODAY during a post-match telephone interview, King said today’s encounter versus Lacko was a tough one, but reaching the main round in a Grand Slam felt like the ultimate accomplishment.

“I feel excellent, this is a dream come true, it’s what I really prepared for and I am really happy to get into the main draw, very excited, very proud to be competing against these players.

“He is a guy that I played before in Miami, and I came out victorious in straight sets (back then). I mean obviously tennis is played on the day. He played well in the first set, I didn’t focus enough, I guess. But with the help of the crowd I stayed in the match and he got a little fatigued and from the third set I was really aggressive and got the victory.”

The former Lodge School student explained what were his tactics and strategy going into the game.

“It was to serve well and to play high tennis, especially to his back-arm and side but it didn’t go as well in the first set. But in the second it did and as you can see it paid off in the next few sets.

“From the first day I got here, I was playing well especially in practice, moving well and striking the ball, so my hopes were high to get into the main draw. Whoever I played against, I always thought I stood a good chance and as you can see, now I’m in the main draw,” King said.

Barbados’ number one lost the first set 6-3 and then won the second 6-4 and he told Barbados TODAY he felt no pressure on his shoulders as the game went into its crucial stages.

“The momentum from the second set carried into the third, I started to focus more on my serve, and the game of tennis is about your serve. So I started to serve much better, I started to feel better. I think my backhand let me down today but the support and me fighting got me through today.”

The US Open’s main round serves off on Monday with the round of 128 and going forward king intends to continue to reach for the stars.

“I’m taking one match at a time, I don’t know who I’m playing as yet, but my goal is to go out there and perform to the best of my ability and see where it takes me,” King said.

3 Responses to King makes the grade

  1. gsmiley August 25, 2017 at 11:11 pm

    Congratulations Darian. Keep reaching for the stars.

    Yet another fine example of the talented and dedicated young people we have on this island.

    Reply
  2. Michael Gill August 26, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Good for you Mr. King. Great to see bajan playing and succeeding at this level. More success to you sir.

    Reply
  3. clint August 26, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Congrats Darian! Wish you more success in the next level.

    Reply

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