After a couple of false starts, Conor Niland finally got his season going by reaching the quarter-final of the Challenger in Heilbronn.
In the first round he impressively saw off eight seed Marco Chiudinelli 7/5, 6/2. The mathematically astute among you will notice that he lost just seven games to his Swiss opponent.
So what? Well earlier this year in Doha, Roger Federer lost 11 games to his compatriot and even had to stave off set points.
This of course means that should Fed bump into Niland at some stage this year, he will almost certainly lose by exactly four games. You can’t argue with maths.
In Heilbronn, Niland followed up his win over Chiudinelli with victory in a marathon three-setter against Martin Klizan before falling in straights to Ilija Bozoljac at the quarter-final stage.
There wasn’t a whole lot else to shout about for the Irish in week four.
James McGee reached the final round of qualies in Heilbronn but squandered a set lead against top seed Gregoire Burquier. McGee also led 3-0 in the second set tiebreak before finally succumbing 6/4 in the deciding set.
It was a painful defeat but he can surely take a lot of heart from proving that he could mix it with an opponent ranked over 400 places about him.
I only hope McGee is neither religious nor superstitious because he currently sits in the demonic ranking of 666.
If you see him wearing a crucifix around his neck this week, you’ll know why.
McGee didn’t have much luck in doubles either, with he and partner Colin O’Brien (who lost in the first round of qualies to Dieter Kindlmann in singles) bowing out in the first round to Ruben Bemelmans and Alessandro Motti.
It was a similar story for James Cluskey and his wingman Vinnie Stouff in the $10,000 Futures in France with the pair bowing out at the first hurdle to Alexandre Penaud and Maxime Teixeira, despite top seeding.
It was better news on the WTA side of things and Ireland once again has a player with a world ranking. As expertly predicted last week, Amy Bowtell enters the WTA list for the first time and currently sits at 905.
With Niland top seed in Kazan and Bowtell coming through qualifiers at the ITF event in Portugal hopefully next week’s installment will bring better news.