King beaten but not disgraced

by Anmar Goodridge-Boyce

He may have lost the match, but Darian King’s world class performance in his debut at the US Open has won the hearts of Barbadians.

Barbados’ top seed created history on Friday afternoon at the Louis Armstrong Stadium when he came from a set and a break down to defeat Slovakian Lucas Lacko 6-4 , 6-3 to become the first ever Barbadian to qualify for the first round of a grand slam.

King was looking to stage what would have been the greatest upset on the opening day of the tournament, and the unlikely looked very possible throughout the game but it just wasn’t to be.

Playing under the lights at the famous Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City, into the wee hours of Tuesday in ESPN Prime Time the Bajan ace ranked 168 sent a strong statement to the tennis world holding two sets in a difficult loss to fourth seed and world number 6 Alexander “ Sascha “ Zverev 7-6 , 7-5 , 6-4.

The match, scheduled to serve off at 8p.m. last night, suffered a delay due to the previous game on the court which saw the likes of Maria Sharapova returning to the tennis arena after 19 months to edge out Simona Halep.

When the game finally got under way, against all odds King made his opponent work extremely hard over one hour and twenty minutes to take the first set 7-6 which went to a tie breaker where Zverev won 11-9.

Zverev seemed to have underestimated King who drew first blood thanks to 31 unforced errors with his German opposition dumping the ball into the net after some lovely return forehand shots by the 25-year-old in a tiebreak set he led 5-3 and let Zverev right back into it.

King who was impressive all night and played some of his best tennis, really unsettled the 20-year-old Zverev who is tipped to reach at least the semifinal stage or even win the championship with a plaster for every sore eventually causing him to hit the ball long and out.

It proved to be a case of Darian being down but surely not out of the encounter that lasted over two hours and the second set was just as even as the first as King defended his heart out in a set which he lost 7-5. This was after Zverev was made to wait for the first serve break of the set in which he had the 6-5 at advantage at that point.

Zverev also took the third and final set but nothing takes away from the extraordinary display King put down for the small Bajan crowd gathered and those watching it at home on television.

Speaking to Barbados TODAY during a post-match telephone interview,  King said although his dream was finished, playing at the highest level of tennis last night into this morning was definitely a huge career accomplishment.

“I am really happy I got the chance to play in one of my favourite tournaments, something that I dreamed about my entire career.  Going out there playing on one of the biggest courts in front of a large capacity of people in one of the largest stadium and to go out there and perform like that it is a great achievement.”

King added that his opponent was no stranger and explained the approach he took towards the world No.6.

“I wanted to use my strength to his weakness. I’m stronger in my forehand, so it was the forehand to forehand battle.  He has one of the best back hands in the game, so it was kind of uncomfortable. Because in the other matches I was using my forehand to the opponents backhand but I couldn’t do that against Alexander. So some of the shots I normally made, my decision-making was sometimes poor,” he said.

Zverev narrowly edged out the Barbadian top seed in the first set, and after fighting extremely hard to stay in the set, King told Barbados TODAY he felt slightly upset that he lost his grip.

“Very tough first set, I had a break up 3-1 playing some good tennis but obviously Zverev is an experienced player so he knows how to handle the situations. He got the break back, he went up 5-4 and I felt a little nervous and I was trying to stay in the set and then to have him being 6-3 up with a few unforced errors, some I don’t think I should have made. It all comes with the pressure playing against a top ten player. Losing the first set I was kind of down, I was disappointed, but I am still happy with how I performed in the remaining sets,” King said.

It was the first time that King played under such circumstances but he added he enjoyed every minute of the match and he was extremely proud of his performance on the big stage.

“I think that I made some good shots and Sascha was there, it was a very physical match. The first set was over an hour and that is where the tennis was.

“In a set when you know you have four more sets to play it is very tough playing so long for the first set. Playing over three hours and finishing at 2a.m., this is stuff I have never done, but I was happy to embrace the moment. I just hope that it gets better from here,” King said.

Source: Anmar Goodridge-Boyce

3 Responses to King beaten but not disgraced

  1. Krystle Mavis Howell
    Krystle Mavis Howell August 29, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    Much better headline! Kudos to Barbados Today and to King for a spectacular effort! Proud of you!!!

    Reply
  2. Judy Hamilton
    Judy Hamilton August 29, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    Well done…

    Reply
  3. Rodney ashby August 30, 2017 at 10:08 am

    Well done mate Iam proud of you

    Reply

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