Some signs of life among Brits forced out of Andy Murray shadow

It’s unlikely that the world’s best will be losing any sleep about it, but at least the British are making their presence felt at Wimbledon.

Five players from the host nation prevailed on day two of the All England Championships, joining Monday winners Kyle Edmund and Heather Watson in booking a place in the second round.

That makes a total of seven, equalling a tally achieved in 2006. It is still short of the nine who qualified after the opening two days in 1997, but in a year when there is no Andy Murray to fly the flag, it is encouraging none the less.

In truth, only Johanna Konta of today’s winners looks to have the ammunition to go deep into the second week. She was not quite at her best, but overcame a dangerous opponent in Romanian Ana Bogdan on the newly-roofed Court One. She has been a quarter-finalist in SW19.

Konta’s aggression was offset by a sometimes wayward radar, as she often overhit her groundstrokes, missing the baseline by some distance, all too often. But her tempo unsettled Bogdan and after claiming the first set 7-5, in 47 minutes, she rapidly closed out the second set, 6-2.

A watching Tim Henman said: “Johanna Konta is playing with aggression and she’s defending well. There’s a lot of positive signs for her.”

Konta herself said: “I feel I am building through the season and reading the game and expressing myself better on court. I was not playing the best tennis, but I competed the best I could.”

Being the British number one is not something which motivates Dan Evans, back at Wimbledon after a three-year absence – one year of that enforced because of a failed drugs test in April 2017, when he tested positive for cocaine.

He looks in fine fettle, having overcome Argentinian Federico Delbonis in straight sets, out on court 18. But if the thought of hunting down Edmund for the number one spot sounds enticing, that is not how Evans sees it. He said it was simply not a major target for him: ‘because that means I’m competing against the other Brits.’

“I’m not that way inclined,” he said. “I don’t want to be better than them. I want to be better than the other guys. If I go high in the rankings, that will take care of itself.

“We’re the only country in the world who says you’re the British number one, or the etcetera number one. Everybody else gets introduced as the world number 10 or 12. We’re obsessed with being British number one. It’s not a massive thing for me.”

It is only the second time Evans has reached the second round, in this, his fifth Wimbledon appearance.

It was a day to remember for wild card Jay Clarke, who overcame Noah Rubin of the USA in four sets after losing the opener, and for Cameron Norrie, who powered past Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan in straight sets, giving him his first Wimbledon win at the third time of asking.

And Harriet Dart also took the plaudits after recovering from a set down to beat the experienced American Christina McHale, in front of the Duchess of Cambridge on court 14. It was also her first win on the famous lawns of SW19.

There could easily have been another winner too, but James Ward lost a deciding fifth set 8-6 to the Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili, having led 2-0 after an impressive opening to the match.

Elsewhere, Roger Federer lost the first set against South African Lloyd Harris on centre court, a newcomer to the championships. But he lost only five more games in claiming the next three sets, Rafael Nadal, meanwhile, breezed past Japanese opponent Yuichi Sugita.

 

Johanna Konta in action against Ana Bogdan on day two of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon.

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