London | Anderson fends off strong Norrie challenge
There were two excellent performances from British players but unfortunately for home fans who packed the Fever Tree Championships at The Queen’s Club, they didn’t end with victories.
Coming back to competition is always a little bit different, but (the elbow) really held up well today in a long three-set match, There are a lot of positives to take. Kevin Anderson
Both Cameron Norrie and James Ward won their opening sets against much higher ranked players only to come away disappointed
Norrie, the British No2, after two hours and 2-minutes, lost 4-6 7-6(5) 6-4 to the second seed and last year’s Wimbledon finalist, Kevin Anderson, who was playing his first match following a three month lay-off with an elbow injury.
The South African blasted 19 aces and lost just 21 points behind the initial shot, fending off three out of four break points as he pressed the home favourite who was being loudly supported by the stands.
Norrie repelled nine out of ten break points and stayed in touch until the decider where, Anderson produced his best deliveries to drop two points on his serve, breaking the Brit in the fifth game and firing three winners in the tenth to stride into round two.
“Coming back to competition is always a little bit different, but (the elbow) really held up well today in a long three-set match,” Anderson said. “There are a lot of positives to take.”
He will face Gilles Simon in round two, after the Frenchman denied James Ward who like his compatriot, put on a fighting performance.
Simon recovered from losing the second set to win through on a tight third set with the tiebreak eventually deciding Ward’s fate 3-6 6-3 7-6(3).
Earlier in the day the defending champion Marin Cilic survived a second set surge from Chilean Christian Garin. Behind his big serve and powerful groundstrokes, the Croatian cruised to a 6-1 5-3 lead before Garin staged a comeback.
The Croat, after 77-minutes having recovered his poise and focus, sealed his victory with three winning shots to cam the tie-break from 5-4- down.
“I was pretty concerned there in the second set, twice a break up, served for the match, and just lost my focus on my serve,” Cilic, who was also returning following an injury, in his case, a knee problem, explained. “He hit a couple great forehands on the run and I found myself 4-0 down in the tiebreak.”
Cilic will face Diego Schwartzman next, the diminutive Argentine having beaten qualifier Alexander Bublik 6-2 6-3 in 51 minutes for only his second win on grass.
Meanwhile the 4th seeded Daniil Medvedev downed Fernando Verdasco 6-2 6-4 in 70 minutes for his first win after five straight losses.
Sixteen years after making his Queen’s debut in 2003, the French veteran Nicolas Mahut was back in action having come through the qualifying competition, as he took out the American young gun Frances Tiafoe 6-3 7-6 in 81 minutes for his first victory at Queen’s in five years.