James Ward hopes for luck of the draw at Wimbledon
- Credit: EMPICS Sport
Britain’s No2 James Ward hopes fortune favours him when the draw for Wimbledon is made tomorrow.
There is generally only one name on British tennis fans’ lips at this time of year, as the nation prepares for Wimbledon on Monday.
Andy Murray will shoulder everyone’s hopes again – but he is not the only home-grown hero who is hoping to make their mark at next week’s championship.
Britain’s No2, James Ward, reached the second round last year and thrilled the home fans with an exhilarating five-set classic against the American Mardy Fish.
The 26-year-old, from Eversholt Street near Euston station, was eventually beaten but he left SW19 with his head held high.
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Unfortunately, that was closely followed by a broken hand and then ligament damage, which undermined his progress and damaged his world ranking.
However Ward, who used to play at Islington Tennis Centre on Market Road, exploded back onto the scene in April by beating Dmitry Tursunov as Great Britain came from 2-0 down to beat Russia 3-2 in the Davis Cup.
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The north Londoner has since reached the final of the An-Ning Challenger event in China, and has now been awarded a wildcard for Wimbledon.
Ward’s grass court preparations have not gone as well as he may have liked. He lost in the first round at Queen’s Club last week, missing two match points against the Croatian Ivan Dodig and going down 6-7, 7-6, 7-6.
Then, having previously reached the quarter-finals of the Aegon International in Eastbourne, he again fell at the first hurdle on Tuesday, losing 6-3, 6-4 to Australia’s Bernard Tomic.
Despite that double disappointment Ward, who is ranked 216th in the world, insists he is happy with his form – and he is hoping for a luckier draw at Wimbledon as he awaits the identity of his first-round opponent.
“I’m playing well, I’ve played two good players who know how to play on grass,” said Ward. “The draws have been tough so far but I’m happy with my game and hopefully next week it opens up a bit better.
“I’d obviously like to avoid the top four if possible, so I’d take anyone apart from that. We’ll wait and see. It’s out of my hands so we’ll deal with it when it happens.
“There are always things to work on, but both matches [against Dodig and Tomic] have been tight and I was close to coming out on top in both of them. It’s small things and minor details but stuff to work on going into next week at Wimbledon.
“It’s great to be back there and I’m looking forward to playing. It’s nice to be at home. You spend all year away travelling and it’s good to be at home for a couple of weeks and sleep in my own bed.
“Injury-wise, everything’s good at the moment. It’s been a long road back because I had six months out, but I’m pleased to have had a free run for five months, with points to be gained, and I’m looking forward to breaking my career-high ranking .
“Of course, a major championship like this is a great opportunity to improve my ranking.
“But again, it depends a lot on the draw and how you play and how you deal with things next week. I’m looking forward to it and hopefully it works out in my favour.”
Whatever happens, Ward is guaranteed a welcome payday as first-round losers will take away £23,500 in prize money – and he is quick to acknowledge the financial value of his wildcard.
“Of course it’s massive because it helps you travel for the rest of the year,” he said. “It makes it more comfortable. You can choose your schedule and that support just makes your life a bit easier.”