James Ward refuses to bemoan luck of the draw after Queen’s exit
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
Camden’s James Ward refused to moan after being drawn against the third seed Milos Raonic in the first round at Queen’s and making an early exit on Monday.
The Aegon Championships has been upgraded this year from an ATP Tour 250 event to 500 status – referring to the number of rankings points awarded to the winner.
With the prize money also being increased by $1million, the tournament is now more attractive to the top players than ever.
The flip side is that the challenge is now even tougher for the likes of Ward, the World No109 from Eversholt Street near Euston station, who was given a wild card for the event and immediately faced Raonic, the World No8 who reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon last summer.
Ward initially looked set to cause an upset, winning the first set 7-5, but 24-year-old Canadian Raonic came back to win the next two 6-3, 6-2 and set up a second-round clash with Richard Gasquet.
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Ward refused to curse his lack of fortune though, and instead resolved to focus on the positives of his performance.
“It’s tough s***. You’ve got to deal with it and hope that one day you maybe get a better draw and can sneak in a bit further, win a couple of matches and then maybe it’s a bit different,” said the 28-year-old.
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“That’s the luck of the draw and every time you play big tournaments you’re not going to play someone ranked outside the top 50 at any slam, major, 500 or masters series competition. It’s always top players and guys who are mostly seeded.
“I think I acquitted myself well out there. Playing against the third seed and inside the world top 10, I don’t think it’s such a bad effort.
“I’m sure plenty of other guys he would just turn over in two sets and it would be seen as just another normal match. I’m relatively happy with my performance, obviously despite never being happy when you lose.”
Ward made 81 per cent of his first serves en route to winning the opening set, but he then found Raonic difficult to break.
“His serve is an absolute rocket,” said Ward, who beat the big-serving American John Isner in the Davis Cup in March.
“Even when you get a couple of service points on his game you’re still not the favourite to win the game.
“It’s a harder serve than Isner. With Isner, I think it’s coming from a bit of a taller height and it bounces a bit more. He gets a better angle on the ball, but Milos has got the power where it comes through fast.”