May 29, 2017 / 10:09 AM / 4 months ago

Try, try again in Paris for Japan's Sugita

May 28, 2017; Paris, France; Yuichi Sugita (JPN) in action during his match against Steve Johnson (USA) (not pictured) on day seven of the 2017 French Open tennis tournament at Stade Roland Garros. Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

PARIS (Reuters) - The motto ‘if at first you don’t succeed’ might have been coined for Japan’s Yuichi Sugita, who after a battling French Open main draw debut on Sunday finds himself close to reaching the second round of a grand slam for the first time.

The 28-year-old right-hander, who trailed 25th seed American Steve Johnson by two sets to one when their match was suspended overnight, has fallen 24 times in qualifying and three times in the first round proper across the sport’s four majors.

But Sugita should have the momentum at Roland Garros on Monday, having won the third set and built up a 4-2 lead in the fourth, when the players resume as second match on Court Six.

Overshadowed through his career by the might of Kei Nishikori, Japan’s number three is on the up when it comes to his ranking too.

Sugita sits just five places below his all-time peak of 73 - high enough to give him an automatic place in this year’s main draw at Roland Garros.

That will come as welcome relief given his undistinguished record in grand slam qualifiers.

It took him 18 attempts to reach a main draw in one of the sport’s blue riband tournaments, and that outing at Wimbledon in 2014 was cut short in round one, as were his two subsequent matches at the Australian Open and the All England Club.

Reporting by John Stonestreet, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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