Ward has ‘nothing to lose’ at Wimbledon
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
Injury-hit year leaves wild card in realistic mood
After an injury-hit 12 months, James Ward will take to the court with nothing to lose in the first round of this year’s Wimbledon.
A member of the successful Great Britain Davis Cup squad in 2015, it has been a period of struggle for the 30-year-old, with a recurring knee problem forcing him to take time away from the sport.
He returned for the grass-court season with a wild card to Queen’s but suffered a first-round exit on his first ATP appearance for nine months.
A wild card has again proved to be his way in for Wimbledon 2017, with 2006 semi-finalist Marcos Baghdatis his first-round opponent.
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The Cypriot is not the player he used to be, having slipped down to 65 in the world rankings although he can still be a useful player on his day.
And while Ward’s own ranking stands at 1,085, the Brit should approach the game with no fear, according to Judy Murray, mother of reigning men’s singles champion Andy.
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“James has nothing to lose. He’s got to see it as a huge opportunity for him to push himself back in,” she said.
“James has been out for a while. Because he was out for a long time he can use a protected ranking.
“He chose to come back at the start of the grass season where he could take advantage of the wildcards to help him get back in.
“I don’t think it will be easy, simply because he hasn’t had many matches since he came in since his return from injury.
“But Baghdatis isn’t at the top of his game anymore. He’s got to use the crowd and feed off them.”
The two players have met just once before back in 2009 with Baghdatis triumphing 6-2 6-3 at Queen’s Club.
They will go head to head over five sets this time around for the latest Slam with former Fed Cup Murray admitting the longer distance may not favour the Brit, given his preparations.
“It takes a long time to build your fitness up when you’ve been out injured but it takes longer to build your match fitness up. You can only do that by playing matches,” she added.
“I’m sure he would rather have come into this with some wins behind him.”
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