US OPEN 2011
Ireland's Niland Has Dream Date With Djokovic
New York, U.S.A.
by Robert Davis|
In Conor Niland’s racquet bag is a schedule of play for the US Open: Novak Djokovic (SRB)  vs Conor Niland (IRL), Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Is Niland dreaming or is this some form of positive thinking? Actually it is a little of both, but Niland’s dream will today become a reality. At 29, Conor Niland finally made it to the top of the mountain. His reward for winning three qualifying matches at the US Open? A chance to play the No. 1 player in the world on one of the great centre courts in the world.
“To get to play Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 player in the world, is amazing,” admits Niland. “It was always my goal to get to these type of situations. Being an Irish player, we did not have that many guys on tour and it was always kind of exciting to think that maybe I could be the guy to get here. It took me a long time to do it. Had it not been for the support of my family, I am not sure if I would have continued. They always told me to back myself and keep believing.”
Fans in the U.S. can watch a free live stream of up to six courts:
Good parental advice anyone would say. But it is not that easy to do when you are spending 30-plus weeks a year slogging it out in far and away places like Bucaramanga, Colombia and Karshi, Uzbekistan.
“Six months is a long time on the tennis tour,” says Niland. “And you can always turn your career around in that period of time. You can go from losing matches in Futures, to winning a few in Challengers to qualifying for ATP 250s. And then you are in qualies of a Slam with the chance to play against great players. Nobody knows this better than me. For all those guys playing Challengers this week, keep believing and keep trying for the biggest stages in tennis.”
"Conor is a great example of a player keeping the dream alive," says Dave Miley, Director of Development for the ITF. "Too many times players feel that if they don't make it by the time they are 22 or 23, it is too late. Connor Niland is showing that you can still play your best tennis even if you are 28 or 29 and play against the best in the world."
"I think that he has chipped away something like 150 ranking spots a year for the last six or seven years."
What Roger Federer recently told DEUCE supports Niland’s belief: “What is nice about tennis is that you can play qualifying and can have the opportunity of winning the tournament. Even though it is tough, you do have a chance to win a tournament. The dream always looms.”
For Conor Niland his goal of playing against the best in the world came true the moment the men’s draw was completed. For all those kids that will be watching back in Ireland today, Niland is a great example of what can be done if you work hard and dare to dream.