Colin O’Brien the sole Irish winner in Irish Tennis Open

Four home hopes tumble out in first round

Ireland’s Peter Bothwell in action during his Irish Open first round game against Britain’s Richard Gabb. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Ireland’s Peter Bothwell in action during his Irish Open first round game against Britain’s Richard Gabb. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Tue, Jul 23, 2013, 01:00

The FBD-sponsored Irish Open began at Fitzwilliam LTC yesterday with mixed results for the Irish players.

Colin O’Brien overcame Italy’s Luca Serena 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 in an absorbing match. O’Brien came from a break down to take the first set before Serena fought back well to win the second set. The Italian player had an unusual style, mixing up his game very effectively, without having any serious weapons.

The Malahide man kept his focus in the third set as Serena’s game began to break down, the Irish Davis Cup player’s strong forehand a key component in his victory. O’Brien has struggled with injuries for the last two years and his last match in this tournament came in 2011 when he captured the doubles title.

Four other Irish players were also in action yesterday. Peter Bothwell, the number one junior player in Ireland, was defeated by fifth seed Richard Gabb of Great Britain 6-3, 6-4.

Wildcard Bothwell showed plenty of promise. He started slowly, losing his serve early on and was a little tentative, with perhaps nerves playing a part, allowing Gabb to take the first set comfortably.

The Belfast player improved greatly in the second set, becoming more aggressive and had a break point to lead 5-3 in the second set. Gabb, showing his greater experience, battled back to take the set and the match. However, Bothwell, who is training full-time in Spain, will have benefited hugely from the experience.

Robert Dudley did not fare as well losing easily to Great Britain’s Alexander Jhun. Dudley lost the first set 6-0 making plenty of unforced errors. The 18-year-old fared much better in the second set with just one service break proving the difference losing the set 6-4.

Julien Bradley lost 6-4, 6-3 against Jathan Malik. There was very little between both players with Malik just having that bit more power in his groundstrokes, while also playing the big points with more authority.

The final Irish player in action saw John Morrissey lose to second seed Daniel Cox 6-1, 6-3. Cox, who won the tournament in 2010, had way too much consistency and power for Morrissey although the Donnybrook player will be disappointed with the score.

Cox was very impressive and looked like he could challenge strongly for the tournament again this year.