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Improving Ward eyes a run at Wimbledon

13:10 12 June 2014

James Ward during the AEGON Championships at The Queen

James Ward during the AEGON Championships at The Queen's Club

EMPICS Sport

Camden’s James Ward feels his performance at Queen’s is a sign of continuing improvement – and now he’s setting his sights on a good run at Wimbledon.

Ward’s second-round 7-5, 6-3 defeat to world no 13 Grigor Dimitrov in the Aegon Championships followed a straight-sets win against Blaz Rola, where he bridged a rankings gap of 64 places to advance 7-5, 6-4.

The 27-year-old, from Eversholt Street near Euston, felt his match against Dimitrov had come down to just a couple of points.

Ward – who last month became the first British man since 1973 to come through qualifying at the French Open – said: “It was a tough match where we both played to a high level.

“He played a couple of great points at the end of the first set and took his chances in the second.

“He earned the win – it wasn’t me giving it to him, but that’s the difference playing these top guys. You need to stay right at the top of your game to stand any chance.”

As well as his French Open run, the world no 155 enjoyed a memorable five-set Davis Cup win over the USA’s Sam Querrey earlier this year, and he is determined to keep improving.

He added: “I will continue to work hard on all parts of my game, and things are going in the right direction but it’s not going to change overnight.

“I’m improving all the time, as you can see in my results. I’m playing quality players and getting good results and being more consistent.”

A tired Ward finished his involvement at the Queen’s Club when he and Dan Evans suffered a 6-1 4-6 10-4 doubles defeat to Jamie Murray and John Peers, in a match that started just an hour after the Dimitrov clash.

After an encouraging few days at the Aegon Championships, the British no 3 is now looking ahead to the next couple of weeks and especially Wimbledon, after confirmation of his wildcard.

Ward feels he can draw strength from his win against Querrey and said: “I like playing long matches and over five sets anything can happen so I’m really excited for Wimbledon.

“A lot depends on the draw, but I’m looking forward to it and hopeful I can win some matches.”

A factor which could be key at SW19 is Ward’s serve, and after recording an impressive first serve percentage of 83 per cent against Dimitrov, the Brit revealed this is an area of his game he’s been working on.

He said: “I’ve been doing a fair bit of work on my serve – I spoke with my coach about getting more first serves in, as that’s so key on a grass court.”

Before Wimbledon, Ward plays at Eastbourne next week, and as he explains, every tournament is vital to getting points and moving up the rankings – breaking the world’s top 100 for the first time remains a key goal for the former Queen’s semi-finalist.

“Next week the focus is on winning some matches and moving my ranking higher,” he said.

“I need to keep playing at a good level and the results will come. With a few positive results, I could be in the top 100 and that’s a massive step up. It’s a completely different ball game to where I am at the moment.”

A passionate Arsenal fan, Ward paused when asked how a few wins at Wimbledon would compare to the Gunners winning the league. Eventually he joked, “I think a run at Wimbledon might just edge it.”

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