Aidan McHugh was always going to be up against it in his second round of qualifying for the main draw at Wimbledon and admitted the big-game experience of Andreas Seppi made the difference in the end, writes Paul Eddison at Wimbledon Qualifying.
The 21-year-old from Glasgow, who is on the LTA’s Pro Scholarship Programme – the highest level of support for players aged 16-24 – was beaten 6-4 6-2 by the veteran Italian.
The first set, in particular, was very tight, but Seppi earned the crucial break to close it out, calling on the experience that saw him play in 66 successive Grand Slam tournaments, a streak that puts him third all time for male tennis players.
Against that kind of pedigree, McHugh was not able to win the decisive points and admitted he was not quite at his best.
He said: “I thought he played pretty well. I had some good chances that I didn’t take. I didn’t play my best and I was still pretty close. I gave myself some chances in the first set and it’s a bit disappointing that I didn’t take the opportunities when I had them. It’s positive though that I didn’t feel I was playing my best tennis and still gave myself an alright shot, especially in the first.
“I think he played pretty solid, he didn’t do anything special but did the basics very well. His serve and return was big, he did that better than me and it was pretty much as simple as that. Over the course of the match, he served his spots better than I did. I needed to be a bit more aggressive and zone in on being a bit more accurate, especially that is how I serve my best.
“I could have done that better and the returning from my side, I could have made him play a few more balls on the big points. Other than that, it was fairly even from the back, it was just serve and return that got me.”
McHugh’s dreams of making it to the main draw at Wimbledon have been pushed back for another year, with the next objective, a strong showing on the Challenger circuit and a potential Grand Slam debut at the US Open.
Just as crucial will be a run of matches for McHugh, whose preparation was hindered by a rib injury earlier in the year.
He added: “I had a fracture in my first rib recently and wasn’t able to compete as much. I’m someone who, the more I play, the better I start to execute.
“It was a couple of months ago now. It was two and half months out. It wasn’t horrendous, there’s far worse things out there. I just have to look after myself and make sure I don’t get any other niggles. I enjoy the training but the competing is where the real fun is.”
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