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Octave joy as McClurg misses out on glory

By David Kelly

Donaghadee's Lucy Octave lifted the under-16 doubles title along with partner Julie Byrne of Dublin at the Irish junior championships at Fitzwilliam tennis club on Saturday.

On a day when Matthew McClurg suffered heartbreak in the boys under-16 final after a week of heroics when battling through injury, Octave finished up as the solitary Ulster winner.

Octave and Byrne came through a thriller with Megan Campion and Sarah Curran, winning 6-7 6-1 10-3 in the champions tie-break.

The Donaghadee teenager was also one of just three Ulster players out of 32 semi-finalists at the championships.

Comber lad McClurg was unable to produce his best in the under-16 final, as Vuk Budic triumphed 6-1 4-6 6-4.

Belfast Boat Club's Calum Hagan impressed when he won the under-18 title at the North Down championships in Bangor, defeating Robin Watts 6-3 6-2, while the under-21 title went to Omar Mowlood.

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal expects the US Open to be a crucial tournament in the fight for the world number one ranking.

Novak Djokovic currently heads the standings, with Nadal – who starts his campaign today – just over 2,000 points behind and defending US Open champion Andy Murray a close third.

Nadal said: "If I am number one, it will be an amazing season for me. If I am not number one, it still will be an amazing season for me."

The Spaniard goes into the tournament as the form player after an astonishing season on what was considered his weakest surface.

Nadal, the 2010 champion in New York, has played in three Masters series events on hard courts and won the lot, most recently back to back in Montreal and Cincinnati.

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