October 1, 2023

Open Court


Pospisil out in first round of Oz qualifying (pics)

MELBOURNE – The last time Vasek Pospisil found himself in the qualifying at a Grand Slam was more than 3 1/2 years ago, at the 2013 French Open.

It’s not a place he wants to be. But that’s where he is right now, and his 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 loss at the hands of Uladzimir Ignatik of Belarus in the first round Wednesday won’t do anything to help him get out of the qualifying morass.

Here’s what it looked like.

Ignatik, a stocky fellow, is exactly Pospisil’s age – he’s 10 days older. Back in the summer of 2007, Ignatik was the No. 1 junior in the world after winning the junior French Open (he got to the final of junior Wimbledon a few weeks later, losing to American Donald Young. He defeated Pospisil in the second round of the junior US Open that year, in Pospisil’s first junior Slam.

But his pro career hasn’t panned out so far; Ignatik’s career high of No. 137 (he’s at No. 191 now) is about where Pospisil is at the moment – and that’s the worst Pospisil’s ranking has been since his early days.

But on this day, Ignatik played well and fought hard.

Pospisil? Not so much. His compete level just wasn’t there.

The 26-year-old won the first set rather routinely, even though he wasn’t playing with a lot of energy or moving aggressively. He had break points in the fifth game of the second set to go up a set and a break and likely headed to a straight-sets win.

Pospisil didn’t convert, and it was all downhill from there.

The conditions were quite cool for Australia, and it was only a best-of-three. So that wasn’t an issue.

By the time he was down two breaks in the third, Pospisil was urging himself on, reminding himself to focus on every point and to forget “everything else”. He did get one break back, and he had chances to break again when Ignatik served for the match. But the uptick in his level of tennis was a little too late in coming.

He’ll have to wait nearly a week before getting going in the doubles event with Czech Radek Stepanek. Might be a long week.

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