Gabriel Dial’s rock star moment in Montreal — open court


When you’re a kid just starting out – playing in a big tournament in your hometown in front of friends and family – the pressure you put on yourself must be immense.

But these are also moments when upsets happen. Just look at how Tim Van Reithoven won the title at home in the Netherlands as a wildcard on grass earlier this summer.

And they sometimes happen in Montreal. It happened on Saturday for Gabriel Dial.

The 20-year-old, who is ranked 665th and a regular tennis player at the University of Kentucky, received a wild card into the Banque Nationale Omnium Qualifier.

He did that well, upsetting a VERY tough and experienced 59th-ranked James Duckworth 6-3, 7-6 (5) on Saturday at Rogers Court.

This is what it looked like.

Diallo is a Montreal native who actually moved to Quebec to work with Felix Auger-Aliassime’s father, coach Sam Aliassime.

He has little professional experience; but his $25K ITF win in Michigan earlier this summer moved him from 943rd in the rankings to 675th.

On Sunday, he faced a completely different matchup in the tough French left-hander Hugo Gaston.

And reality set in when Diallo went 2-6, 1-2 due to injury.

Duckworth took it badly

For Duckworth, who is generally a pretty dumb breed, a defeat at the hands of a kid was ABSOLUTELY worth the destruction of a few rackets.

However, he made one child’s day.

Memories of Milos Raonic – 2009

There was another young fellow of great service who had long since left his mark on Montreal.

It wasn’t exactly the same situation. But Milos Raonic, then just 18 and ranked 679 (almost the same as Diallo this week), had an impressive run in qualifying.

He defeated Teymuraz Gabashvili (then No. 77). And then took care of qualifying for the main draw of Michael Lodri (#113 at the time).

On the way out of the stadium, he also became a rock star.

There, he faced world No. 10 Fernando Gonzalez in the first round of the main draw, in his debut at the ATP Tour level.

It was on the same ground that Diallo belonged on Saturday, in the stands, in a night game.

It really is on YouTube.

The hall was full, and González was booed by a very loud, very pro-Raona audience.

And the boy almost took off. Maybe he should have. In the end, he was beaten by the experienced Gonzalez 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4.

But his career had begun. Raanich immediately embarked on a three-tournament tour of Thailand on the ITF circuit, during which he went 12-2 with one title and one final.

He returned home ranked in the top 400.

Gabriel Dial’s rock star moment in Montreal — open court

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