Great Britain’s James Ward reflects on his Davis Cup heroics
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
Camden’s James Ward says his heroic victory for Great Britain’s Davis Cup team against Russia’s Dmitry Tursunov was the biggest moment of his career.
GB played five matches against the Russians in Coventry over the weekend, and they found themselves 2-0 down after Ward and Dan Evans both lost their opening singles matches in five sets.
However, the British pairing of Jonny Marray and Colin Fleming won their doubles game to make it 2-1, and Ward and Evans then won their singles matches to secure a 3-2 victory – the first time Great Britain had come back from 2-0 down to win a Davis Cup tie since 1930.
Asked where the achievement ranked in his career, Ward said: “It’s got to be the highest because of the situation.
“It’s the first time we’ve come back from 2-0 down in the Davis Cup for over 80 years so it’s a historical achievement and I can be very proud that I played a big part in it. It’s a great thing to represent your country, especially when you have weekends like that.”
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Ward, from Eversholt Street near Euston Station, had previously suffered an agonising defeat against Evgeny Donskoy, who was ranked 80th in the world, losing a two-set lead to go down 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, 8-6.
But Britain’s No2 bounced back in style on Sunday to beat the world No67, Tursunov, in another five-set marathon, triumphing 6-4, 5-7, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 to level the tie at 2-2 – and Evans went on to shock Donskoy.
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Britain’s success in the Euro/Africa Group One clash means they face a play-off away against Croatia in September, with the winners promoted to the 16-team World Group.
Ward said: “It will be big, I think Andy [Murray] will play at the end of the year. I’m looking forward to it, these are the reasons why you play.”
Ward has had plenty of ups and downs over the last four years. In 2009 he became the first British player since Tim Henman to win a challenger title on clay, winning the Sarasota Open in Florida, USA – but he was then diagnosed with glandular fever, ruling him out for five months.
He gradually returned to full fitness and reached the semi-final of Queen’s on grass in 2011, losing 6–3 7–6 against Jo Wilfried Tsonga.
And, last year, the 26-year-old reached his career-high ranking of 137 before reaching the second round of Wimbledon, where he lost out to Mardy Fish in a five-set thriller.
But Ward then fell awkwardly at the Newport tournament in America, breaking his hand and requiring an operation. He came back from the injury, only to tear the ligament, ruling himself out until January.
Ward now hopes his Davis Cup heroics will prove a point about the strength in depth in British tennis – and he is also aiming to stay injury-free and recover his previous ranking.
“Obviously you’re always going to get abuse for what happens [in British tennis], and sometimes it’s a fair point, but I broke my wrist after Wimbledon so I was out injured for six months or so and people don’t realise those things,” he said.
“Your ranking slips a little bit. It doesn’t really affect the level of your tennis, you just need time to get your ranking back up.
“I had glandular fever as well so that was a tough time, and I was out for a few months with that. It’s happened a couple of times now.
“Hopefully I can stay fit and healthy and I can get my ranking up – stay clear of injuries and I’ll be alright.”
Ward is now planning to head to America and then to China to play in challenger tournaments, before returning to Europe for the French Open at the end of May.