After losing a whole day’s play on Tuesday due to rain and, with only one match concluded the day before (Monday), it was a relief for all concerned that the first round of the Surbiton Trophy Challenger was completed on Wednesday.
I managed to find my feet on the grass. It was night and day compared to the other day. Jay makes it so tricky, he’s got really good hands, he’s a good fighter, he’s got a big serve and he makes a lot of returns when he’s playing well Liam Broady
In a match that was played over two days, Liam Broady eventually overcame fellow Brit and doubles partner Jay Clarke 4-6 6-3 6-3 after benefiting from the delay returning the stronger of the two as he pointed out following his vistory.
“I think today I played really well,” he said. “I managed to find my feet on the grass. It was night and day compared to the other day. Jay makes it so tricky, he’s got really good hands, he’s a good fighter, he’s got a big serve and he makes a lot of returns when he’s playing well. The first set was really frustrating and then with the rain delays over the course of two or three days made it really difficult as well but I thought it actually benefited me to have a bit of time to recover mentally and really have a think about how I wanted to play today and I think it showed. I came out and played like a completely different player and gave myself the chance to do well this week now.”
Alistair Gray commented after beating Mark Whitehouse 6-3 6-2: “First rounds are never easy, especially when you play a qualifier who’s played a couple of matches on the grass already but I thought I played a very clean match. I served well, didn’t get broken and I think I only had one break point against me and I hit a good serve on that one. Mark is a very tricky player, he doesn’t give you any rhythm, hits very good returns and hits it very hard which on grass is very difficult obviously. But yeah I’m very happy with the way I played today.”
Another Britissh winner was Jack Draper who beat Billy Harris 6-2 6-2 in his first match on grass in preparation for his reappearance at Queens and Wimbledon having made his debut there last year.
“I played really solidly. It was my first match on grass this year and I was coming back from injury, so I thought I played really solidly against a good player. It’s always tough to play against a Brit, especially on your home soil so yeah I’m very happy.”
But it was his next opponent, Ryan Peniston, the World No. 195, who produced the ‘match of the day’ when he beat the French World No. 69, Adrian Mannarino, the second seed, 2-6 6-1 6-4 on Centre Court for the biggest success of his career.
In the women’s draw Harriet Dart fell to Serbian qualifier Natalija Stevanovic in an agonising 2-6 7-6(5) 7-5 defeat despite being urged on by the home crowd paced around Court 2, but it wasn’t enough to get Dart over the line who missed one match point opportunity in the final set.
Other winners in all British matches were Sonay Kartal who beat Yuriko Lily Miyazaki 6-3 6-4 and Twickenham born Alistair Gray who overcame Mark Whitehouse 6-3 6-2.
“Going into it I was training a lot with Lily the past week so we both kind of knew how each other plays. She doesn’t give you much rhythm so to play her on the grass is definitely a tricky surface but I just tried to keep my game, how I’ve been playing and tried to keep a lead throughout the match. Coming off at 4-4 in the second set with the rain delay was tough so yeah the biggest thing coming back from that was just to keep my focus and not kind of get complacent.”
Other British women to lose in the first round were Eden Silva, who lost in three sets to former Wimbledon quarter-finalist Coco Vandeweghe 6-3 2-6 4-6 and Sarah-Beth Grey to Germany’s Tatjana Maria 7-5 6-2.
The only upset in the women’s draw was produced by Briton Jodie Burrage who beat Chinese 3rd seed Lin Zhu 7-6 6-3.