Sorensen pulls out of US Open

Wed, Aug 31, 2011, 01:00

Tennis:Louk Sorensen’s extraordinary US Open story took another twist today when he found himself facing a lucky loser in the first round instead of sixth seed Robin Soderling but then had to retire in the fourth set with cramp.

The Irishman retired in May after succumbing to a succession of injuries, turning to coaching and playing league matches in Germany, where he was brought up and still lives. Despite not having played a match on hard courts for six months, he decided to enter US Open qualifying under his protected ranking, taking the chance to travel to New York for the first time.

Sorensen was not even sure of a place in qualifying, 10 other players had to drop out for him to get in, but that duly happened and the 26-year-old went on to win three matches to reach the main draw. He is the only Irishman in the Open era to win a main draw match at a grand slam, at the Australian Open last year, but a repeat looked unlikely when he drew Soderling.

However, the Swede was taken ill with a virus yesterday evening and was forced to pull out, something Sorensen did not know until just before he went on the Grandstand court and found himself facing Brazilian lucky loser Rogerio Dutra Da Silva instead.

He said: “A guy in the locker room told me, ‘You’re not playing Soderling’. I said,‘Yes I am’. The Brazilian guy had just told him he got in. Then I got all my stuff and walked on court.

“At first I was a bit disappointed because I wanted to play a top-10 guy but on the other hand to play a lucky loser is a good chance to get into the second round. I was enjoying it, I just wanted to go out there and have fun because I was injured for so many months.”

Sorensen started poorly, recovered to win the second set but was then struck down with cramp, initially in his hand, and called it a day with the score 6-0 3-6 6-4 1-0.

Sorensen first felt the problem at 3-3 in the first set, and he said: “I hit a forehand and suddenly my thumb was cramping, then my legs started to cramp and my left arm, and I had no answer to that. I don’t know if it was the tension.”

Sorensen’s run in New York has made him rethink his retirement plans, and he is hoping to be able to play Davis Cup again for Ireland next year.

He said: “Now I have to think about it. I really want to keep playing. But I had so many injuries and after a certain time you just can’t deal with it any more.”

It was a sad end to a brilliant tournament for Ireland, with Conor Niland also qualifying and drawing world number one Novak Djokovic in round one — only to have to retire in his match as well with food poisoning.

Sorensen added: “That’s pretty bad but everybody is proud of us in Ireland and we just keep playing and fighting and try to fly the flag.”