Gutsy Long goes down fighting at Australian Open

Knowsley’s Eliza Long was left to rue what might have been after her first-round exit at the Australian Open girls’ singles yesterday.

Facing Hong Kong’s world number 57 Katherine Ip, Long surrendered the opening set 6-2 and looked in big strife trailing 5-2 in the second.

But Long won the next four games as she showed the same determination which got her through qualifying.

In the next game the 2011 Australian under-16 champion had a break point on Ip’s serve to force the match to a deciding third set, but couldn’t convert and the second set eventually went to a tiebreak.

Both players struggled with their serve in the tie-break, with neither winning a point from their delivery as scores were locked 2-all. The contest hung in the balance at 4-4, only for Ip to win the next three points to take the match 6-2 7-6 (7-4).

Ip’s serving was a big difference throughout the match, with the Hong Kong player getting 83 per cent of her first serves in compared to Long’s 51. 

Long was the only player to serve an ace – sending down three no-hitters – but gave Ip nine break point opportunities, of which four were converted. 

Long, 17, could only break Ip’s serve twice from six attempts. 

Things didn’t improve for Long in the doubles as she and Stefani Stojic lost 6-2 6-1 to the Czech Republic’s Gabriela Pantuckova and Italy’s Alice Matteucci in the first-round.

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