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Niland squeezes through Wimbledon qualification thriller

Irishman rallies late to progress to the second qualification round with a 6-3 4-6 8-6 win over Josselin Ouanna of France.

Updated 14.50

WIMBLEDON 2011 MAY not properly start until next Monday, but Irish hopeful Conor Niland got his qualification campaign off to a good start with a thrilling third-set victory over Josselin Ouanna in their first round match at Roehampton this morning.

First up on Court One at 11am this morning, the Limerick man needed to dig deep late on to secure a 6-3 4-6 8-6 win.

The world number 186 raced into an early lead against his French opponent, ranked 274 himself, taking the first set 6-3.

Ouanna was not to be dismissed so easily and, after he won the second set 6-4 and took control of the match with a 5-3 lead in the deciding set, Niland was facing the very real prospect of an early return home.

The Irishman rallied gamely however, saving five match points as he stormed back to take the final set 8-6 and book a place in the second qualification round where he will face the seeded Italian Paolo Lorenzi or Greg Jones of Australia.

This morning’s tie was the first of three qualification matches which Niland needs to win in order to earn a place in the tournament proper.

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