Kwon Soon-woo takes 'lucky loser' lifeline as far as the semifinals
Korean tennis player Kwon Soon-woo crashed out of the semifinals at the 2021 Eastbourne International in Eastbourne, England, losing to world No. 18 Alex de Minaur on Friday.
De Minaur, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, beat Kwon in straight sets on Friday, although the Korean rising star put up a good fight in the second set. The match ended in the world No. 18's favor, with the score at 6-3, 7-6.
The Australian went on to win the final against Lorenzo Sonego of Italy on Saturday.
Just reaching the semifinals was impressive for Kwon, who wasn't actually supposed to be playing. After losing his qualifier to Britain's Alastair Gray over the weekend, Kwon was knocked out of the Eastbourne International.
His shot at redemption came through the so-called lucky losers system, where tournament spots are reallocated to eliminated players after a qualifying player withdraws. Lucky losers are put back into the tournament based on their ATP ranking, with Kwon replacing Reilly Opelka of the United States.
Despite the loss to de Minaur, Kwon still had a good week. On Wednesday the Korea Tennis Association announced that he has qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The top 56 players in the world are eligible to compete at the Olympics based on the ranking published after the French Open on June 14. However, with a maximum of four places available per country, players outside the top 56 will qualify if players ahead of them become ineligible as their country's quota is already filled.
At No. 79 when the Olympic ranking was finalized, Kwon qualified as the 52nd player to make the Olympic cut. Korea did not qualify to compete in the women's tournament.
BY JIM BULLEY [email@example.com]