Wimbledon 2013: Valiant James Ward exits Wimbledon after four-set thriller
- Credit: EMPICS Sport
James Ward served up a thriller in the first round of Wimbledon, but the north Londoner was unable to overcome Yen-Hsun Lu and missed out on an all-British tie with Andy Murray in the second round.
Ward, from Eversholt Street near Euston station, won the first set but ultimately went down 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, 7-6 in a tight affair which required three tie-breaks and lasted over three and a half hours.
Britain’s No2, who used to play at Islington Tennis Centre, is ranked 142 places below Lu, who reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2010 – and he put in a valiant display.
However, Ward will be disappointed that he only managed to convert one of his 13 break points, and that he was unable to take any of the seven set points that he created in the third set.
Ward started well, getting an early break to go 2-0 up, but he lost his advantage and eventually had to serve to stay in the set - which he did, surviving a bad line call to set up the first tie-break.
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Ward gained an early mini-break after a fine 16-shot rally, and he won the second point as well, but his efforts were undermined by two double faults.
Fortunately, Lu was just as accommodating and two unforced errors gifted Ward a set point, which he gratefully accepted.
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The north Londoner grew in confidence and only dropped one point in his first three service games in the second set.
However, he was unable to break and eventually handed Lu three break points, with the second one being taken to give his opponent a 4-3 lead – and ultimately the set.
Things threatened to go from bad to worse at the start of the third as Ward immediately went 40-0 down on his own serve again. However, he won the next five points in succession, culminating in a stunning passing shot – and that bravery proved to be a recurring theme.
The Brit was soon in trouble again, going 40-15 down on his own serve, but he saved the two break points – and then another one later in the game – to hold.
He had to defend another break point in his next service game but saw off the danger again, aided by another superb passing shot.
The boot then switched to the other foot as Lu faced break points, but he was also up to the challenge, leaving the scores tied at 4-4.
The break points kept coming and Ward needed two successive aces to get himself out of trouble before forcing three set points on Lu’s serve - only to let them slip through his fingers, and the third set went to another tie-break.
It was a thrilling decider as Ward took a 6-3 lead, but he lost another three set points – and then a seventh – before eventually losing 13-11. It proved to be costly.
The Brit was in trouble again at 4-3 in the fourth set, facing three successive break points, but he dug deep and held serve.
There was more drama in his following service game as Lu forced a match point – but Ward fought back to hold, before creating three break points in the next game. Unfortunately, they all went begging again.
It was a familiar story in the next game as Ward went 30-0 down on his own serve, but he showed his determination once more to hold and set up a third tie-break.
Again, the Brit got an early mini-break to take a 3-1 lead, but Lu reeled off five points in a row to go 6-3 ahead and earn three match points.
Ward saved the first with a mighty serve but was unable to perform any more heroics as he went down 7-4.