James Ward fights back to progress past Luca Vanni in first round at Wimbledon
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
Camden’s James Ward is through to the second round of Wimbledon after coming from a set down to beat the Italian Luca Vanni.
Ward, from Eversholt Street near Euston station, was given a wild card into the tournament and was initially given a tough first-round draw against the No8 seed David Ferrer.
However, the Spaniard pulled out due to an elbow injury, being replaced by the world No113 Vanni, who had lost a five-set match in the final round of qualifying.
The pair met on Tuesday and the Italian Vanni won the first set on a tie-break. But Ward, who is ranked No111, fought back impressively and took the second 6-2 in just 29 minutes before going on to secure a 6-7, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 victory.
“When Ferrer pulled out people were talking about it being an easy draw facing a ‘lucky loser’,” said Ward. “It wasn’t at all – he [Vanni] would have fancied playing me as well.
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“I was prepared to play Ferrer, everyone knows how he plays. Then I play Vanni. I didn’t know him that well. I’ve seen him on the Challenger Tour but I never played him and he is completely different.”
Ward is scheduled to face Jiri Vesely, the world No45, on Thursday, after the Czech beat Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi 7-6, 7-6, 6-4 in his first-round match.
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The Brit previously reached the second round in SW19 in 2012 before losing to the American Mardy Fish in five sets.
The long-term goal for Ward is to become a top-100 player but, having reached his highest ever ranking of 101 in early January, he remains just outside that barrier. A victory at a Grand Slam is likely to make a big difference, though, when the list is updated on Monday.
Ward was one of five British players to reach the second round and he said: “I think everyone has picked their game up.
“I can’t speak for anyone else, just myself. You just keep knocking on the door. I’ve had a few injuries recently and been sat at the same ranking for a while.
“It’s frustrating but you have to deal with it and get ready for when you do have a chance. That came here and, thankfully, I took it.”