Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Kiwi wildcard Artem Sitak out of ASB Classic

Artem Sitak during the ASB Classic ATP men's tournament. Photosport
Artem Sitak during the ASB Classic ATP men's tournament. Photosport

Kiwi wildcard Artem Sitak is out of the ASB Classic, beaten 6-4 6-2 by Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in an hour on Tuesday night.

It was always going to be an uphill struggle for the New Zealander, who has barely played singles over the last few years and arrived late into Auckland after going deep in the Chennai doubles field.

Sitak fought gamely, and sometimes resembled an energizer bunny as he chased down Chardy's shots from one side of the court to the other.

The Kiwi also served well - and tried to get forward as much as possible - but ultimately couldn't live with Chardy's power and pace from the baseline.

"He was playing so fast and so big - I don't think I have played a singles match against a guy that has played that fast and that big," said Sitak. "I could see why he was top 30 in the world and he could easily get back up there."

The Frenchman, who currently sits at world No 69 but has been ranked as high as No 25, never looked in trouble on his serve but forced five break point opportunities, taking three of them.

Sitak played just three singles matches in 2016 - all first round qualifying ties at Auckland, Chengdu and Metz - so it was going to be a difficult assignment. Sitak had impressed in winning the New Zealand Championships last month, especially in the final against Finn Tearney, but this was a different level.

"I had no expectations at all," admitted Sitak. "I just wanted to play well, have fun and engage the crowd. I don't think I played as well as I could have but he didn't give me a chance to play well."

"He was taking every ball on the rise and all I did out there was run from side to side. I couldn't really do anything to pressure him except for my serve; I think I served really well in the first set."

Sitak has been a doubles specialist over the last few years and is back on court in his preferred discipline on Wednesday night, alongside American Nicholas Monroe against Michael Venus and Robert Lindstedt.

But he is open to more singles in 2017, especially if he is required for Davis Cup duties.

"If they need me for singles I think I can still play good singles," said Sitak. "I'm ready for anything."

- NZ Herald

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