After a vote for Brexit release Britain’s shackles from the European Union last Thursday – or at least set the exit wheels in motion – today saw the return of the much maligned British tennis player trying to fend off the advances of foreign imports on the green lawns of London’s SW19.
The 130th Wimbledon championships are underway, and in the first match on Centre Court world number one and defending champion Novak Djokovic was tasked with dispatching Briton James Ward.
Unfortunately for Ward, the chances of him pulling off a major upset were even slimmer than the prospect of us entering a second referendum.
Djokjovic eased past Ward in straight sets, winning 6-0, 7-6, 6-4 in the first round and ominously took the first nine games on his way to victory as he began the quest for his fourth Wimbeldon title.
With Djokovic leading 6-0, 3-0 in the second set, World number 177 Ward finally broke his duck to an emphatic cheer from the Centre Court crowd, and recovered to take the second set to a tie-break. But in the deciding game Djokovic’s class one again shone through and when the Brit fired a backhand wide, the dominant Serb took the breaker 7-3. He would then break in the first game of the third set, and maintain that advantage to take it 6-4.7
Certainly not a surprise that Djokovic marched through with little resistance, and certainly no shame on Ward’s pat in losing to a man currently head and shoulders above every one else on tour. But things were not going well for the British players elsewhere either, as Kyle Edmund – who had performed so valiantly at Queens taking a set off Andy Murray – was convincingly beaten by Adrian Mannarino, who incidentally Djokovic will face in the second round.
Nicolas Mahut then beat Britain’s Brydan Klein in straight sets, 7-6, 6-4, 6-4, and Naomi Broady lost 6-2, 6-3 to Elina Svitolina.
When Laura Robson was then swatted aside 6-2, 6-2 by Angelique Kerber, things just weren’t looking good for home players at all.
Enter wildcard Marcus Willis.
The world No. 772 had earlier this year given up on professional tennis to focus on coaching, but was handed a chance to play at Wimbledon after another British player could not get back to the UK in time to register for the tournament.
He then won back to back qualifiers to make it to the main draw, the relative equivalent of making the Wimbledon final for a player like Willis perhaps. But the man who had won just £220 on tour all year stunned world number 54 Ricardas Berankis to advance to the second round, guaranteeing earnings of at least £50,000 in the process. Further reward – if you can call it that – will come in the form of a 2nd round meeting with Roger Federer.