Mooloolaba tennis player Dane Sweeny has lost his first two matches at the Australian Open but he is still a winner.
Earlier this week 22 year-old Sweeny, who is ranked 257th in the world, lost his first round singles match against 22nd seed Francisco Cerundolo.
The Argentinian won 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 in a tough five set encounter.
Sweeny never gave up and ended the match bloodied after refusing to give up the chase for hard to return balls.
His tenacity in that match and similar looks to Lleyton Hewitt has commentators and fans comparing him to the former Aussie champion.
Sweeny and fellow Aussie James McCabe then teamed up in the doubles yesterday.
They were in the match after winning the first set in a tie break against the 7th seeded Polish team.
They lost a close second set 7-5 and the third 6-2.
Never give up
Sweeny gained a wildcard in the qualifying tournament to play in the Australian Open.
It was his 4th attempt to play in his home Grand Slam.
“Usually it’s third time lucky but in my case it’s fourth time lucky so it’s great to finally make the main draw and get another opportunity to play in front of the Aussie fans. It was absolutely awesome,” Sweeny said.
Despite losing his first two matches he said his performances have boosted his confidence for the rest of the season.
He won $120,000 for losing against Cerundolo.
The men’s singles’ champion gets more than $3 million in prize money but Sweeny said the money he has won will remove a lot of pressure on him.
“The money is great but the confidence is probably the most valuable thing I’ll take out of this week and it’s a great stepping stone in terms of belief to have a good year and finish the year as high as I can possibly get.
“Last year was a bit of a struggle and there was a little bit of self-doubt and low belief but now starting the year strong like this it’s a great way to start.”
“Tennis is such an expensive sport and at this stage I haven’t got too many sponsors paying my way so all the money I get is from my prize money so yeah this will relieve a lot of pressure from me.
“I can play with that financial pressure a little bit off my mind and I can just focus on the tennis now and maybe try and afford a coach and it just opens up a lot of doors and I’m really excited.
Dad misses decider
Sweeny has been sharing an Airbnb with his family and some mates but his Dad missed the deciding 5th set of his singles’ match because he had to head back to the coast for work.
“My Mum works full time and my Dad tried to get rid of a lot of his work so he could travel with me but he wasn’t wasn’t able to get rid of all of it so he had to go home and do cleaning at 3.30 the next morning.
“So he had to get the last flight out of Melbourne to the Sunny Coast and and I’m just happy he got to watch qualifying and the first four sets of that match.
“I think a part of him would have liked to leave because he gets so nervous when I play.
“He didn’t have to deal with the nerves of watching but I’m sure he would have loved to stay and watch me battle out the fifth set in front of that packed crowd in such an amazing atmosphere.
“I think he was fine but it didn’t affect me too much at all and I think he was just stoked for me doing so well and able to see most of it and I think he was happy with that, Sweeny said.
One of his most cherished moments wasn’t during any matches but a hit out he had with world number 1, Novak Djokovic after he’d qualified for the Open.
“It’s just high after high. You know I qualify for my first ever Grand Slam and then I get the opportunity to hit with Novak Djokovic, It was a kind of dream come true and then a dream come true again. Kind of slapping myself a little bit.
“It was just so unbelievable to have the greatest of all time on the other side of the net and he made me feel so welcome and so at ease. You know he was playing the next day so it was a great experience and I really hope we can do it again,” Sweeny said.
Sweeny will contest the mixed doubles at the tournament on Friday.