FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – It wasn’t the first time Quebec’s Alexis Galarneau took a set from a player ranked much higher than he is.
But it takes two to win, and Galarneau couldn’t keep it going against Swiss lefty Dominic Stricker in the first round of US Open qualifying Tuesday.
Stricker, 21, reached a career high No. 106 last month. He’s at No. 127 now, but a player who has been gradually on the rise. In the end, he pulled out a 3-6, 6-2, 6-0 victory that puts him in the second round against 20-year-old Spaniard Pedro Llamas Ruiz.
Llamas Ruiz is only 11th in his own country in the ATP Tour rankings. And, like Galarneau, this is only his second attempt at qualifying at a Grand Slam tournament.
He has only played one career ATP Tour event – in Lyon, France last winter, where he qualified and lost in the second round to Félix Auger-Aliassime.
So it was a lost opportunity of sorts for Galarneau, to have a similarly-accomplished player in the second round of major qualifying.
But it wasn’t to be.
Here’s what it looked like.
Galarneau was broken in his first service game in the first set. But he got that back – and more – as he took the set. Stricker raised his level; Galarneau couldn’t keep his up.
Galarneau also took a set against world No. 22 Francisco Cerundolo in the first round of the National Bank Open in Toronto a few weeks ago.
So he knows he’s close; the next step for him will be to maintain that level for two sets against the better players, and he’ll be able to make his next leap up the rankings.