Wimbledon | Swan leads the way
In the absence of Andy Murray, home fans are looking to one of the 12 home grown players to make an impression, especially Kyle Edmund who opens his challenge as British No.1 on Tuesday with seven others.
Opening day saw four in action an there couldn’t be a more satisfying win than that of Katie Swan, the 19-year-old from Bristol who required just 56-minutes to blast her way past Irina-Camilia Begu 6-2 6-2.
I knew that I was close to winning. I just wanted it so much. The good thing was that I kept on playing my game throughout, even when I felt those nerves Katie Swan
What was impressive was her concentration, power and poise as she totally ignored the fact her 27-year-old opponent was ranked 36 in the world and just out of the seedings as compared to her lowly 204 which required the teenager to rely on a wildcard for her entry to The Championships.
She showed no nerves as she set about her job and only when she secured her well earned victory, did she allow herself a broad smile as she rushed to embrace her family and friends lined up alongside Court 14.
“I was shaking “ she said. “I knew that I was close to winning. I just wanted it so much. The good thing was that I kept on playing my game throughout, even when I felt those nerves.”
She was nearly joined in round two by Harriet Dart who gave the seventh seed a bit of a shock as she took the opening set. Dart, the 21-year-old British No.5 ranked 171, who has twice failed to come through the qualifying tournament, shocked Karolina Pliskova with her brave performance which produced 9 aces against the 6 from the Czech who has struck the most aces in the women’s game this season!
Dart, who was born and bred in North London and trained last November in Istanbul, had a bad fall in the second set which required off-court attention and it became obvious that it hampered her game as she was then swept aside by the former World No.1 6-7(2) 6-2 6-1.
“I think I played pretty well,” Dart said later. “It was my first time playing here in the main draw singles. I am obviously disappointed to lose but there are many positives to take forward.”
There was also disappointment for Liam Broady, the 24-year-old from Stockport , who simply found the Milos Raonic serve too hot to handle!
He did hold his own in the first set but ran out of steam as the big Canadian blasted 18 aces past him, the fastest timed at 142mph, while averaging 128mph. This compared to Broady’s fastest of 126mph and average of 107.
“I have never played someone with a serve as big as that before,” Broady admitted. “It kind of shocked me a bit. I think at one point his second serve was like 140mph!
The first set was going great, just focusing on my own serve, trying to get a look in now and then, playing for the tiebreak and perhaps get a bit of a steal. But then he broke me.
“Yeah, it was tough.”
Finally it looked a the battle of the Brits as Cameron Norrie took on Aljaz Bedene, the Slovak who gained British citizenship in 2015 but returned to representing Slovenia this season when he was prevented by ITF rules from playing in the British Davis Cup team.
The current British No.2 looked to have the measure of the former incumbent as he took the opening set but the greater variety off the Slovenian’s racket and his greater ability to play tiebreaks, so him go through 4-6 7-6(4) 7-6(4) 6-4.
Having admitted he didn’t play well in the first set and that the conditions were difficult – the breeze and the low sun – he was happy to have come through,
Reminded that Wimbledon was no longer his home slam, he replied: “It did feel still like a bit like my home tournament. I dofeel great here. You know, there were more supporting Cam, but in the end of the day some supported me, too. I was pleased with that.”