King outlasted Australian Open 2006 finalist Marcos Baghdatis 6-4 4-6 6-3 in an absorbing clash on a packed Show Court 3 on Wednesday to book a second-round qualifying ticket for Australian Open 2019.
“That was so tough. Coming from the States, playing a final just now, then only landing yesterday to get in one practice was hard,” King said after navigating past the challenging windy conditions and raucous support for the Cypriot.
“Obviously, I was against a legend, someone who has been at the top of the game in this sport. I was excited to be on court and share my presence with him. I really enjoyed the fight.”
Locked level on sets, King made his move at 4-3 in the decider with a backhand pass arrowing away from the 14th seed’s reach to clinch the crucial break.
“I was playing against a guy with tremendous experience in the sport, so for me I was most impressed by my mental capacity, staying focused to play like a wall,” declared King after booking a meeting with world No.175 Alexey Vatutin.
“Staying mentally strong was the key today.”
Another key was King’s prowess up the court, succeeding in 24 from 28 forays to the net to keep world No.122 Baghdatis off balance.
“It’s one of the things I’ve been working on in the off-season. I’m really happy I’ve been able to use that on the match court. I still have so much to work on,” reflected King, who fell at the third hurdle of Australian Open qualifying in 2018 and is determined to take one step further this year.
“It would be big (to qualify). I remember at the US Open in 2016 I lost in the last round of quallies, but the next season I made it through to the main draw, so hopefully I can repeat that in Aussie,” continued the 26-year-old, having received a call of congratulations from back home as he walked off court.
“Quallies is very tough, I just want to enjoy this moment and I’ll then focus on the next one.”