Two Illini compete in Australian Open



By Eric Chima

Two former Illinois men’s tennis players found their way into the draw at the Australian Open this week, with former NCAA singles champion Amer Delic advancing to the second round before losing to 18th-seeded Richard Gasquet of France late Tuesday night.

The Australian Open, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, is the most prestigious (and exclusive) tournament in professional tennis.

Delic made it into the main draw based on his ranking for the second straight year, which climbed inside the top 100 after he won the Atkins Tennis Center Challenger tournament in November.

His former teammate, Brian Wilson, had to get in the hard way, winning three straight matches in a qualifying tournament to earn his first spot in the singles draw of a Grand Slam.

Delic was dominant in his first round match against Gilles Simon of France, the 48th-ranked player in the world.

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Simon had a win over Andy Roddick to his credit, but Delic easily cruised past him with a 6-3, 6-0, 6-2 win.

Wilson had a tougher time with Feliciano Lopez, an accomplished Spaniard making his 13th Grand Slam appearance.

Wilson took the second set and twice forced Lopez to tiebreakers but could not pull out either one and lost the match in four tight sets.

Delic had even more trouble with Gasquet in the second round, getting overwhelmed by the young Frenchman 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.

Gasquet is just 20 years old and has shot up the rankings since turning pro in 2002.

Delic was one of the first players on court in Monday’s first round, and his win was part of a surge of seven straight wins by American men to start the event.

The USA sent more male players to the second round than any other country, a good start for a country which has struggled in recent years.