Sorensen breaks duck of the Irish

25-year-old becomes first from Republic to win Grand Slam match in the Open era

Successful Irish tennis players are usually as rare as rainfall here at the Australian Open, but Louk Sorensen won his weather-delayed first-round encounter yesterday to become the first of his countrymen in the Open era to win a match at a Grand Slam tournament.

Sorensen, the world No 284, beat Lu Yen-Hsun, of Taiwan, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 to earn a second-round meeting today with John Isner, of the United States. At 6ft 9in Isner is a foot taller than the Irishman, but the world No 28 would have been wise not to expect a mismatch.

Until a fortnight ago 25-year-old Sorensen had never played a match on the main men's tour, let alone at a Grand Slam tournament, but he won three rounds of qualifying before losing to France's Stéphane Robert in Chennai and followed that up with another three victories in the qualifying competition here. Lu, the world No 101, is the highest ranked opponent he has ever beaten.

The last player to fly under an Irish flag in the men's singles at a Grand Slam tournament was Matt Doyle, who is of Irish stock but was born and bred in California. He changed his nationality in 1985, having won for the last time at a major the previous year. He played his last Grand Slam match here in 1986, losing to Jay Lapidus in the first round.

Sorensen's father, Sean, who lost to Rod Laver in the first round at Wimbledon in 1977, is the only other Irishman to have played in a Grand Slam event in the Open era.

Doyle and Sorensen senior took part in perhaps the most memorable event in Irish tennis history when they entertained the United States in the Davis Cup in 1983. A team captained by Arthur Ashe and including John McEnroe and Peter Fleming won the tie in Dublin 4-1.

Should Britain overcome the might of Lithuania in the Davis Cup in March, Ireland could be their next opponents. If Andy Murray is missing again, John Lloyd's team could be up against it. No British men made it into the last round of qualifying here, while Sorensen won all three of his matches and Conor Niland, the Irish No 2 and world No 285, fell at the final hurdle.

Sorensen has Norwegian ancestors, a father who is "100 per cent Irish" and a mother who is "50 per cent German and 50 per cent Austrian". His parents live in Dublin but Sorensen is based in Stuttgart, where he trains with a German coach, Carsten Arriens, and plays league tennis for TC Doggenburg in the Bundesliga, which helps him to pay his way on the Futures and Challenger circuit around Europe. As for his Irish credentials, Sorensen said he liked Guinness, "but not in the summer when it's hot".

How did he explain his recent upturn in form? "I've no idea – I've just kept playing," Sorensen said. "I've been injured so many times in the last few years, but the last couple of months were really good. I stayed healthy and felt great, so maybe it's just everything coming together now."

Asked about his future ambitions, Sorensen said: "My goal is just to stay healthy over the whole year and then check the rankings. That is my first goal. But I believe that by the end of the year I can maybe get to No 200 or No 150 in the rankings and then I'll see. Maybe I can go higher."

Emerald file: Sorensen's career

Born 7 January 1985

Height 5ft 9in (some 6in shorter than Andy Murray)

Turned pro 2003

Career prize money $73,599 (£45k)

World ranking 284 (highest 246)

Honours One ATP Challenger Tour title (Wolfsburg 2008). Has played six ATP tour matches, winning three

PROMOTED VIDEO
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore