Two of Britain’s wildcards put up great performances in their respective first round matches but only Ryan Peniston lives to play again as Paul Judd just fails to cause a major upset and join him in the second-round later in the week.
I’m just loving every second of it, to be honest Ryan Peniston
Making his Wimbledon debut, Peniston enjoyed a straight set victory over Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen as he continued to delight home crowds who first became aware of him during his runs at Nottingham, Queen’s and Eastbourne.
On this occasion the 26-year-old from Essex entertained a packed crowd on Court 12 by delivering a comprehensive 6-4 6-3 6-2 victory over his 30-year-old Swiss opponent currently ranked 95 in the world.
He saved three break pints in the sixth game of the second set and survived another before taking a two-sets to love lead on his third set point thanks to a Laaksonen error.
For a brief moment it looked as if the pendulum might swing away from the British No.6 as he dropped his serve for the first time in the third but Laaksonen couldn’t build on his advantage as Peniston recovered to claim his victory after two hours of play.
The British No 6 will face the American ranked 93, Steve Johnson, next after the 18th seed from Bulgaria, Grigor Dimitrov retired from their match with a groin injury having won the first 6-4 and then trailing in the second 2-5.
Pensiton’s story is becoming well known and explains in some ways, his late arrival on the tennis scene having overcome a rare cancer when he was a baby, which he admitted had delayed his physical growth as a teenager but when he finally broke through on the professional tour, it was with a bang dispatching the top seed at Queen’s, Casper Ruud on his debut on the ATP Tour to make the quarter finals.
At Wimbledon his great form, on grass continued as he played within himself, recording jut 18 unforced errors to Laaksonen’s 44 and breaking the Finnish born Swiss six times.
But he still can’t quite accept his sudden rise to prominence revealing that 24 hours earlier, admitting: “To be honest, I was chatting with my coach, Mark Taylor, yesterday and I was kind of saying I’m waiting for someone to pinch me and wake up back in May sometime.”
He is currently guaranteed a payday of £78,000 and is enjoying his success declaring: “I’m just loving every second of it, to be honest.”
Meanwhile his compatriot Paul Jubb, a 22-year-old from a Hull council estate, has made a name for himself by taking the controversial but extremely talented Australian, Nick Kyrgios to five sets.
It was thriller of a match and one which Judd could have won had he been able to convert his chances against a player many believe has the talent to win a grand slam if he just applied himself.
Jubb certainly had Kyrgios, ranked 179 places above him at 40, rattled, especially when he took the opening set to the delight of the crowd packed into the Court 3.
Kyrgios fought back to win the second set with two breaks of serve, while the third was more keenly contested until the Australian broke Jubb’s serve to take it in the 12th game.
Undaunted the British No. 8 held his nerve in the fourth to force a tie-break which he which he claimed for the loss of just three points to level the match, forcing an increasingly frustrated Kyrgios into a fifth!
That proved a pulsating affair, as Kyrgios broke Jubb’s serve in the sixth game only to be broken by the Brit when he was serving for the match at 5-3 and then held to pull level.
Kyrgios then had to face three break points before regaining the lead and breaking Judd to finally secure a hard-earned 3-6 6-1 7-5 6-7(3) 7-5 victory after two hours of a roller coaster of a match.
But Kyrgios’s victory wasn’t realised without some incidents from the rebellious Aussie who hit a ball out of the arena, called a lineswoman ‘a snitch’ and spat at a fan who he said was disrespecting him.
As regards the lineswoman, he had no regrets responding: “No. Why? That’s what she did. I didn’t do anything, and she went to the umpire and told her something that I didn’t say. That’s called whistleblowing.”
But he admitted to the spitting incident. “To one of the people disrespecting me. Yes. I would not be doing that to someone who was supporting me. Someone just yelled out I was shit in the crowd today. Is that normal?”
There can be no doubt that that act will attract a fine from the tennis authorities.
There was disappointment also for third British wildcard, Jay Clarke, the British No.7 who lost in straight sets to Chris Harrison of the US in a match that lasted two-hours and 23-minutes.
The first set went to a tie-break which Harrison won but the second set was more conclusive for the American who broke Clarke twice for the loss of just one game.
Despite a brief comeback from Clarke to take a 4-1 lead in the third set, Harrison fought back to take it to a tie-break, which he won to clinch a place in round two 7-6(3) 6-1 7-6(6).
However on the credit side, Britain’s No.9, world ranked 288, scored a comfortable 6-3 6-3 7-6(3) win over Taipei’s Chun-Hsin Tseng.