(August 23, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS – Barbados’ Darian King advanced to the second round of the US Open Qualifying tournament on Tuesday with a comeback victory over 31st seed Grega Zemlja 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 on Court 5.
King was up a break in the first set, but could not hold it. In the second set he went up two breaks against the hard-serving Slovenian, which he said was the turning point of the match.
“I think we both played great tennis,” he said. “And I’m glad that I kept (my) focus and got a great victory over Zemlja.
The 24-year-old born in Bridgetown, Barbados is currently ranked at No. 167 on the ATP World Tour. He just participated in the Rio Olympic Games, where he lost in the first round to No. 22 Steve Johnson 6-3, 6-2.
“It was great for me,” King said of his Olympic experience. “Coming from a Caribbean country, the only person that was there, it was a great achievement.”
“Also playing against a Top 20 player, everybody wants to play against the top players and for me to participate for my country against a Top 20 player, I think it was a great experience for me overall.”
Asked about if there is more pressure playing in the Olympic Games or the US Open Qualies, he said: No pressure. I’ve been playing the sport for at least five years and I don’t think there is any pressure, it’s what you train for. To train hard and hope it comes out in a match. I’m a guy who never gets nervous against anyone because I train hard for this, I’m willing to play anyone who comes up.”
King, who also plays Davis Cup for Barbados, has won two challenger events this summer just prior to the Olympic Games – one in Binghamton, New York and the other in Cali, Colombia.
“I’m transitioning from the Future to the Challengers,” he said. “It was a big move for, the first time out playing a lot of Challengers – two-time victory in the Challengers is a great achievement for me. It shows the progress I’ve been doing, the hard work I’ve been putting in. Hopefully after the US Open, I’ll continue playing Challengers more.”
King hopes to raise his ranking to 150 this year, a goal he set for himself in the beginning of 2016. “That’s what I’m really aiming for. It’s going to be tough because the margin from 170 to 150 is a big margin. Have to play in the big tournaments and hopefully do well in them.”
King will face Kazaakh Aleksandr Nedovyesov in the second round of the US Open Qualies on Thursday. The 29-year-old Nedovyesov is ranked 218th in the world.
Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News at the US Open.
Dustin Brown was in the crowd at Court 5 cheering on Darian King.
— Dustin Brown (@DreddyTennis) August 23, 2016