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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 June, 2004, 06:06 GMT 07:06 UK
Father's praise for 'fighter' Flanagan
Ian Flanagan
George Flanagan 'wouldn't dream' of giving his son tennis advice
The father of new tennis sensation Ian Flanagan has spoken of his son's fighting spirit after returning from illness to become the surprise star of this year's Stella Artois Championship.

The 22-year-old from Grianrhyd, near Mold, finally lost to fifth seed Sebastien Grosjean at Queen's on Thursday.

It ended a run of upsets which started on Tuesday when he defeated last year's Wimbledon finalist Mark Philippoussis.

The next day he claimed the scalp of Victor Hanescu to reach the competition's third round.

Speaking on his way back to north Wales where he spent the night before returning to Queen's, George Flanagan said the whole family was proud of Ian's success.

The sport went out of him when he was 15 or 16 when he had glandular fever but he's getting there now
George Flanagan

"We're very pleased. He's done very well," said George.

Ian's success is all the sweeter for his family after he was forced out of the game for two years with glandular fever.

Mr Flanagan said: "The sport went out of him when he was 15 or 16 when he had glandular fever but he's getting there now.

"It was a frightening time during his illness and from a tennis point of view it would've been better if he'd broken both his legs because he would've been back in tennis quicker.

'Depressing time'

"To see him not eating and sleeping all the time was awful," he added.

"You've got to give him credit for carrying on. It shows he's a fighter, it was a depressing time for him."

Mr Flanagan said his family had remained calm despite his son's victories and sudden rise to fame at the high-profile pre-Wimbledon tournament in London.

He said: "I don't get too emotional. At the end of the day it's a tennis match.

"I get happy, even ecstatic, but it's not the biggest thing in the world."

He said Ian "doesn't make a big thing" of his successes. He spends the night before his matches listening to music and relaxing with his Playstation before an early night.

Mr Flanagan, chairman of Ruthin Tennis Club, had to wait to congratulate his son after beating Philippoussis.

"I don't see him at all straight away, he goes straight to the press room. I saw him about an hour after that," he said.

"I shook his hand and said 'Well done'. To me, he's been unbelievable."

Sebastien Grosjean
Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean is 22nd in the ATP rankings

But despite his own tennis knowledge, this father would never dream of giving hints to his son.

"I can't give him any advice on tennis," he laughed. "I just tell him to relax and enjoy it."

His mother Sheila watches his matches on the internet, believing she may jinx her son if she watches him on the circuit.

"She saw the results as they were coming through," said Mr Flanagan.

"When I phoned her she just said, 'Didn't he do well, he did tremendous'."

"Tennis is something that he's been working on for several years. He came into this tournament on a high."

Standing ovation

A Queen's spokeswoman said spectators had already taken the new British tennis hero to their hearts.

"He's gone down really well and he seems to be a hit with the crowds," she said.

"It was absolutely packed earlier on court one and people are queuing up to try and watch him," she added.

George Flanagan said the atmosphere on court while his son was in action was amazing.

"Down here he's a Brit on court and the crowd are really supporting him, he's even getting a standing ovation," he said.

"The support is unbelievable and everybody is rooting for him."

Flanagan adds Hanescu scalp
09 Jun 04  |  Tennis
Ex-coach on Flanagan's promise
09 Jun 04  |  North East Wales
Briton stuns Philippoussis
08 Jun 04  |  Tennis

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