British No 2 Jodie Burrage scored an impressive straight sets win over American Caty McNally on the opening day of Wimbledon, but both Harriet Dart and Katie Swan were eliminated in their 1st-round matches by Dianne Parry and Belinda Bencic respectively.
To sit here saying I've won my first round at Wimbledon, hopefully going to be in the top hundred in two weeks, yeah, not expecting that, but very happy that it's happened. I hope this is the start of a really good run. Jodie Burrage
There were tears of joy for Burrage, though, after sealing one of the biggest wins of her career at her home Grand Slam, making it third time lucky after suffering 1st-round exits in the previous two years at SW19.
“I haven’t got a lot of words,” said 24-year old Burrage after her 6-1 6-3 win over McNally. “I’m just very happy. I think the smile says it all. Yeah, just happy to get through that, my first win at Wimbledon.
“I’m shaking like you can’t believe. That one meant a lot. It was actually a lot of relief. It took me a few match points to get over the line. It’s never simple with me.
“I’m very happy with how I played, how I handled myself on court. I really enjoyed every moment of it, and hopefully can take that into the next match.”
The Briton’s win caps off a memorable season on the grass so far, having defeated top-flight players including Poland’s Magda Linette to reach her first WTA Final at the Rothesay Open Nottingham.
“I gained a lot of confidence in Nottingham, but I’m just looking to the next match now,” Burrage said. “It hasn’t been easy [dealing with injuries]. It’s been my biggest battle, but I have worked really hard, and I feel like I’m in a good place.
“After my third ankle operation, my mind had decided that that was it. I was going to go to an American university, get a degree there, have a great life. Would have really enjoyed it and loved it. But that was my tennis career done.
“You know, somehow got back on the horse with help from family and friends, and my boyfriend as well, like, really helped push through that not so-nice time.
“To sit here saying I’ve won my first round at Wimbledon, hopefully going to be in the top hundred in two weeks, yeah, not expecting that, but very happy that it’s happened. I hope this is the start of a really good run.”
Burrage blitzed through the first set on Court 12, claiming 4 consecutive games before the American delivered her first hold of the match.
Despite McNally, ranked 67, getting a game on the board, Burrage held her nerve, winning 6 of 7 games to seal the advantage, as she wrapped up the first set in only 22 minutes.
McNally tuned to her strengths in the second, finding her feet at the net to earn her first 3 break points before eventually converting the break to unsettle the home favourite.
The American, though, was clearly hindered by a problem with her right thigh, which was heavily strapped, and she received treatment at the changeover, and she instantly improved, forcing a break after Burrage stopped to challenge a call, which had clearly hit the baseline.
The Brit refused to let her advantage slip, though, and she immediately pulled herself back into the set with a double break, before clinging onto a crucial hold to see out the match.
Burrage, who converted a match point at the 6th time of asking to wrap up victory after an hour and 4 minutes, is slated to play 6-time WTA title-winner and World No 10 Daria Kasatkina, in the 2nd-round on Wednesday.
“Yeah, haven’t thought about it much,” Burrage said, looking ahead to the second round. “Obviously she’s a great player. She made finals last week in Eastbourne. It’s going to be a very tough match. But I’ll go out there, give my all, fight like I always do, and see what happens.”
In the meantime, Burrage needs to make arrangements for her black Labrador, Otto, who is not allowed on site.
”We’ve actually just had that conversation with two of my friends that live on the same road as us,” Burrage told reporters. “They’re going to go back now and actually get Otto, so I can see a few people here. It’s a shame he can’t come.
”I’ve had a great support network here. I’ve had so many people here that I know. It was really good to get a win in front of them, as well. Adds a little bit of pressure when people come and watch. When you get the win, everything goes well, it feels really, really good.”
Things did not go quite so well for Britain’s Harriet Dart and Katie Swan who, earlier, lost on a busy Day 1 at Wimbledon.
Dart narrowly lost to 20-year-old Diane Parry from France, 6-7(4) 6-0 6-4, while Swan put up a strong fight against Olympic Gold medalist Belinda Bencic, but ultimately bowed out 7-5 6-2.
In the opening match of the day, Dart came back from 3-0 down in the first set to win it in a tiebreak, but after the Brit lost a break point in the first game of the second, Parry took control.
Having got back on serve in the deciding set, the windy conditions told once again with Dart 4-5 down as Parry broke for the 8th and final time.
After her 3 set loss to Parry, Dart admitted it was a disappointing defeat, and struggled to find the positives.
“Yeah, disappointing result,” Dart said. “I didn’t feel like I really ever got going. Yeah, I mean, I thought she started to up her level a bit in the second set.
“Made it difficult for me. But I still felt like my level was pretty poor today. I felt pretty poor out there. What’s amazing was I had a chance to win playing not great tennis.
“I still feel like I have so much to improve on. I’ve had a really good grass court season. It’s just disappointing that my worst match of the grass court season came here. Naturally being British, you want to play well here. Yeah, today, I don’t know, I just didn’t really get going. She also made it tricky for me. Credit to her, she played better tennis than me today.”
Swan fought hard against 14th-seeded Bencic, firing an impressive 9 aces in the opening set, but once the Swiss broke on her second set point at 6-5, the Brit found herself firmly on the back foot.
A finalist at the Lexus Surbiton Trophy in June, Swan finishes her grass court season having pushed herself into the world’s Top 150 and is proud of her performance against Bencic.
“Yeah, I was excited when I saw the schedule,” Swan said. “Court 2 is the biggest court I have played on here. Yeah, I was really looking forward to it.
“I was so nervous, like, 10 minutes before I walked on. I felt like my whole body shaking, but I was actually quite pleased with the way that I started, considering, and kept it tight pretty much all the way through that first set. Had chances, as well.
“Just didn’t play well enough in the big moments. But, yeah, she’s a great player. I knew it was going to be tough. Yeah, there’s positives to take from it and also lots to learn and take forward.”
Katie Boulter, Heather Watson and Sonay Kartal are all in action on Tuesday, when Boulter, the British No 1, taking on Australian Daria Saville on Court 18 at 11am.
Watson meets Czech Barbora Krejcikova, the 10th seed and former French Open champion, on No 2 Court, while Kartal faces American Madison Keys, the 25th seed who won Eastbourne on Saturday, on No 3 Court.