Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun (盧彥勳) may have reached a career best 71st in the latest ATP rankings released on Monday, but the milestone did little to curb his disappointment at being knocked out of Wimbledon later the same day.
“I’m very disappointed and pretty frustrated, “ Lu told reporters after falling to France’s Florent Serra 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-3 in three hours and 13 minutes in the first round of the only grand slam played on grass.
Lu had high expectations for himself entering the tournament, having won two second-tier Challenger events and reaching the finals of three others earlier this year to vault him up the rankings. He was also facing an opponent whose best results had come on clay.
But sluggish starts to each of the first two sets cost the 24-year-old dearly. He was broken in the third and fifth games of the first set and in the third game of the second set, breaks that Lu could not recover from despite pushing the 74th-ranked Serra to deuce repeatedly in the Frenchman’s service games.
“I didn’t play the key points well in the early part of the match, “ Lu said, lamenting a string of unforced errors that gifted Serra points at inopportune moments. “I’m frustrated that I didn’t respond to the challenge.”
The tide turned in the third set, however, as Lu steadied and both players held serve to push the set to a tiebreaker.
He took the last four points of the deciding game to pull within two sets to one, and after breaking Serra to open the fourth set, a comeback seemed possible.
“I thought Serra was tiring physically and mentally and I had a good chance to ride the momentum to get back into the match,” said Lu, playing in his fifth Wimbledon and looking to reach the second round of the men’s singles for the third time.
But serving with a 3-2 lead, Lu could not keep his steady run going and was broken for the fourth time on the day.
Completely deflated by the letdown, he lost the final three games and the match, and his brief Wimbledon campaign came to an end.
Taiwan’s highest rated men’s player was dogged throughout the match by unforced errors, committing 48 to only 28 for his opponent, and double faults.
His four double faults and 12 unforced errors in the final set were perhaps indicators that fatigue was catching up to Lu, who had already played 16 Challenger and main ATP Tour events and two Davis Cup ties this year in his successful push to drive up his ranking and qualify for the Beijing Olympics.
“I’m physically tired from the all the events I’ve played. Today, my body felt like it was still carrying some of the lingering fatigue and I never felt fresh,” Lu said.
He will now take a break to rest and prepare himself for the US hardcourt season and the Olympic tennis tournament in August.
But for him to push deeper into the draws of big tournaments will be a challenge.
One of the best conditioned and hardest workers in professional tennis, Lu is reaching a point where others have had trouble maintaining their rankings on the fiercely competitive ATP Tour.
Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei (謝淑薇) and Chan Yung-jan (詹詠然) were to play in the first round of the women’s singles event last night.
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