x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Jarryd wins bizarre opener

Anders Jarryd seals a bizarre opening win against Wayne Ferreria in the Legends Rock Dubai tennis tournament.

Anders Jarryd was involved in a bizarre match against Wayne Ferriera at the Aviation club in Dubai.
Anders Jarryd was involved in a bizarre match against Wayne Ferriera at the Aviation club in Dubai.

DUBAI // Anders Jarryd looked every day of his 47 years last night as he brought up the curtain on the fourth running of the Legends Rock Dubai tennis tournament but somehow the Swede found a second wind to come through a bizarre opening encounter with South Africa's Wayne Ferreira.

Ferreira, by 10 years the junior player, looked in total command as he raced through the first set of their round-robin encounter yet left the court 40 minutes later wondering what had gone wrong. Jarryd recovered from the embarrassment of surrendering 6-1 on the sixth set point against him to make the second set equally one sided in the other direction. "He caught me by surprise but I was pleased with the way I recovered," Jarryd said.

A 6-1 scoreline in Jarryd's favour took the match into the Champions tie-break system where one player has to win 10 points with a margin of at least two. That was much more competitive than anything before but Jarryd earned himself four match points after moving 9-5 up. Ferreira saved them all to extend that breaker but then hit the worst forehand of the match to allow Jarryd to regain the initiative. The South African was unable to prevent Jarryd from converting his fifth match point to secure a 1-6, 6-1, 12-10 passage and boost confidence for his enticing all-Swedish clash with Stefan Edberg, the former world No 1 and winner of six grand slams.

"This win tonight obviously improves my chances of going all the way here," Jarryd, who has captured two veteran titles so far, added. "But with Stefan next in line and Jim Courier and Sergi Bruguera in the field, it is going to be tough for me." If he continues to make light of his advancing years, the $54,000 (Dh198,374) first prize here is a possibility. More so than for Ferreira, who knows he must defeat Edberg in tonight's opening match to have any hope of staying around for Saturday's finale.

A stunned Ferreira, who plays five times a week in his home of California to keep himself in shape for these novelty events around the world, praised the resilience of Jarryd for transforming their encounter so markedly. "Anders was not getting much in early on but he raised his game a lot in the second set and capitalised on my serve going astray. I'm not giving up yet, though. I am capable of beating Edberg and if I do I will still have a good chance of making my mark here.

"Obviously I would like to make progress to the final stages but the main thing about coming here is spreading the word of tennis and I believe we are all doing that." Edberg, a replacement for the injured Goran Ivanisevic, got the feel of the court that hosts the annual Dubai Tennis Championships for the leading men and women on the main tours, in an exhibition doubles match later last night. He will be well fancied to come out on top of this six-man battle which could see a final against another former world No 1 Courier, who begins his challenge tonight against Paul Haarhuis.

wjohnson@thenational.ae