Why Ipswich’s world champion benefits from rare loss
WITH all the recent focus on Ipswich-bred winner Ash Barty, it's another humble achiever from the city who is also setting the highest international standards.
Four-time world champion Archie Graham is preparing for the next Australian Open eager to win back the title he lost after five previous final victories.
Graham also has a new sense of purpose after losing for the first time at world championship level during the recent Federation for Intellectual Disability Sport (INAS) Global Games in Brisbane.
It took a semi-final tie-break to end Graham's winning run which started in Ecuador in 2015 and continued in the United States (2016), the UK (2017) and France (last year).
However, his long-time coach Stan Cuthbert said a rare loss was beneficial for the Ipswich achiever who was co-captain of the victorious Australian team.
"If you don't lose, you don't get better,'' Cuthbert said.
He said Graham was more committed mentally and physically since the Global Games semi-final defeat and after sharing in another doubles final victory with Mitchell James.
"He's training hard for the Aussie Open and he's looking forward to trying to regain his title,'' Cuthbert said.
"He's handled it (the Global Games loss) well and he's come back and trying harder and training more.
"He's doing a lot more running which I always felt he needed to do.
"He needs that condition to keep you fresh when you play through the rounds.''
Cuthbert said Global Games top seed Graham was also looking ahead to next year's world titles in Europe, where he hopes to successfully defend his singles title.
Before that, Graham will continue to hone his skills at two open tournaments leading up to his special category at the Australian Open.
"He suffers a lack of competition sometimes,'' Cuthbert said, having coached Graham for more than a decade.
"He's capable of playing and winning against some of those players on the (open circuit).
"He's not afraid to play them. He likes playing them.''
Graham, 26, has enjoyed playing tennis to help him deal with Aspergers Syndrome, a condition where people have trouble interacting socially.
The Ipswich sportsman has gained more confidence in recent years, receiving ambassador roles and working more with junior players.
That included the world champion being appointed co-captain of the national team for the INAS Global Games at Tennyson.