10:23 pm
17 Apr 2024

Lake Survives Opening Day Florida Open Scare

10 Jan 2024

England's Nathan Lake avoided a major upset in round one of the SmartCentres Kinetic Florida Open, coming from 5-2 down in the deciding fifth game of the PSA World Tour Gold event in Boynton Beach to beat wild card Jeremias Azaña.

Lake, the US-based world No.29, needed more than an hour to get past his Argentine opponent, who was making the most of home-court advantage and a vocal crowd cheering him on, and pushed the experienced lefty all the way.

Ultimately, though, Lake came out top, clinching victory with a crisp backhand winner to set up a second-round clash with third-seeded compatriot Mohamed Elshorbagy.

"I'm pleased to come through at the end," said Lake later. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that that could've gone either way, and I'm just happy I got the win in the end.

"I tried to remember times when I've been in winning positions against players ranked above me, and it's a funny thing, your head. I was trying to think... he's under his own pressure, try and stay focused and let it land where it does, so in general I was pretty happy with how I kept mentally strong.

"It's lovely to be in Florida. I live in New York at the moment and it's very cold, so I'm pretty happy to swap the snow for a bit of sunshine, and I think the court looks spectacular."

Lake's victory was one of five matches to go the distance on an exciting opening day in South Florida, with Nicole Bunyan among the other players to record a 3/2 win.

The Canadian endured a tough first half of the season, but twice came from a game down to level her match with Mariam Metwally, eventually winning in 48 minutes to kick off 2024 in style.

"It's been a rough season so far, I have to say," she said following her victory.

"The first half didn't start so well, but I knew that my level has been pretty decent, I just haven't been able to find that form in tournaments.

"So even though it was just a couple of tournaments between this week and the last one, I felt like coming into the new year would just be a clean slate, so I just tried to approach it like that, change a couple of things in my mindset and it paid off.

"I told myself never to relax [in game five], because if I do, then I'll just lose my structure, and she's capable of hitting some pretty outrageous winners, so when I was up 8-3, 9-3, I just told myself to stay with it."

Gregoire Marche, Abdulla Al-Tamimi and Leonel Cardenas also won in five, with Cardenas needing six match balls to eventually see off Egypt's Yahya Elnawasany, claiming the tie break 12-10.