It might just be for home players but the Battle of the Brits Team event has become very competitive and on one particular occasion, on Day Two at the NTC in Roehampton, tetchy.
It was a day when the British Bulldogs dominated the results with six wins over the Union Jacks, from the eight matches scheduled to lead 18-8 in the race to the 60 points required for overall victory.
These are my first competitive matches since the beginning of March so it is going to take time. I was in a good mindset and I stayed in each point and gave myself the best chance for my level to get better. Johanna Konta
Like the opening day, several of the matches provided opportunities to earn some bragging rights as the one earned by Jodie Burrage over Johanna Konta on day one.
And it looked like Katie Boulter, also beaten in her first match 24-hours earlier by teenager Emma Raducanu, was going to inflict another defeat on Konta, the British No.1 when she swept through the opening set for the loss of just two games and then led the second 3-0 with two breaks.
This time Konta, the world No.12, recovered to turn the match around in an impressive way to secure her first win of the week in what was only her second match since March, 2-6 7-6(5) 10-6.
“It’s not what it would feel like at a Grand Slam or WTA event, but it was good to give us both of us the chance to get those competitive juices and pretend we’re somewhere else,” said Konta.
“She started very well but I felt I improved as the match went on and by the end, we were playing some great tennis,” Konta, leading the British Bulldogs, said following her victory.
“These are my first competitive matches since the beginning of March so it is going to take time. I was in a good mindset and I stayed in each point and gave myself the best chance for my level to get better.”
Bulldog victories continued throughout the day with Cameron Norrie taking out Jan Choinski 6-4 6-3, Liam Broady defeating Anton Matusevich 6-1 2-6 10-8 and Maia Lumsden squeezing past Alicia Barnett 5-7 6-4 10-7.
They also captured two doubles matches with Harriet Dart & Beth Grey comfortably defeating Naomi Broady & Heather Watson 6-2 6-4 and in the final match of the day, Joe Salisbury & Emma Raducanu edging out Andy Murray & Jodie Burrage 4-6 6-4 10-8.
The two wins earned by the Union Jacks came via Dan Evans and the doubles partnership of Jamie Murray & Olivia Nicholls.
Evans defeated Kyle Edmund in what was a repeat of their final clash in the Battle of the Brits men’s event earlier in the month by maintaining his dominance over his predecessor as British No.1 with a very clinical 6-4 6-4 performance.
The loss must have galled Edmund for he touched rackets – a gesture which replaces the traditional end of match handshake during this Covid-19 period – in a petulant manner, that is, with some force., causing an exchange of words.
TV cameras caught Evans warning Edmund following the incident: “Be very careful, Kyle. Be very careful mate.”
He then expanded on the incident to his team-mates. “He just teed my racquet. When I put my racket there, he just absolutely belted my racket.”
Even when one of them suggested it was a minor incident, he responded brusquely: “Well, I think it was.”
Edmund completely denies the accusation.
“It was nothing. He misinterpreted touching the rackets and stuff,” Edmund said. “There was nothing there. The racket touch is not that a big a deal to be honest.”
He also highlighted the fact that the event was being taken seriously by all and had become very competitive.
“12pm yesterday, that was when we started caring about the end result,” Edmund added. “Every match has been like that in terms of competitiveness.
“It is not like you are just going to play to get the practice, you are playing to try and win. When you add a team element, there is a natural feeling inside that takes away just playing, to playing with a team, it is like an extra responsibility.”
In the only other match won by the Union Jacks, Jamie Murray & Olivia Nicholls beat Alastair Gray & Eden Silva 7-6(4) 6-4.
Cameron Norrie (BB) bt Jan Choinski (UJ) 6-4 6-3
Johanna Konta (BB) bt Katie Boulter (UJ) 2-6 7-6(5) 10-6
Harriet Dart & Beth Grey (BB) bt Naomi Broady & Heather Watson (UJ) 6-2 6-4
Dan Evans (UJ) bt Kyle Edmund (BB) 6-4 6-4
Joe Salisbury & Emma Raducanu (BB) bt Andy Murray & Jodie Burrage (UJ) 4-6 6-4 10-8.
Liam Broady (BB) bt Anton Matsuveich (UJ) 6-1 2-6 10-8
Maia Lumsden (BB) bt Alicia Barnett (UJ) 5-7 6-4 10-7
Jamie Murray & Olivia Nicholls (UJ) bt Alastair Gray & Eden Silva (BB) 7-6(4) 6-4
British Bulldogs lead Union Jacks 18-8