After England’s humiliating defeat to Iceland at Euro 2016, British sport fared much better at Wimbledon today
With most of the home nations now out of the European Championships – some with much more dignity than others – and the Welsh national team now the sole flag-bearers for post-Brexit Britain at Euro 2016, today’s play at Wimbledon may have provided a soothing tonic for those most passionate followers of British sport.
Both the men’s and women’s British number ones were in action and both made excellent starts to their Wimbledon 2016 campaigns. Andy Murray advanced into the second round at SW19 with a routine straight-sets victory over fellow Brit Liam Broady, the Scotsman winning 6-2 6-3 6-4. Then Johanna Konta raced into a commanding lead in her first round encounter with Monica Puig before rain stopped play.
233 places separated world number two Murray and Broady in the rankings, and unfortunately for Broady it was apparent from the early exchanges. Murray pushed Broady around the baseline, hooking a decisive forehand across court and broke for a 2-0 lead when his opponent found the net.
Broady was soon on the board and received warm applause from the Centre Court crowd as he held serve to win his first game and trail 3-1, but Murray responded with a hold to 15 to re-establish a three-game cushion.
Maintaining that advantage to 5-2, Broady had to serve to stay in the first set, but Murray forced two set points on the Broady serve, and took the first set 6-2 when his the younger man sailed a shot wide.
The result was never in doubt and although Broady acquitted himself well in relative terms, he had a double-fault to thank for Murray gaining an early break in the second to lead 6-2, 3-1. Prior to the match there had been ample excitement about two British players meeting on Centre Court in the first round at Wimbledon, but by this point the atmosphere had run quite flat, as Murray was simply far too strong.
He served out the second to win 6-3 and just needed the one break in the third and ultimately final set to wrap up proceedings and take that one 6-4.
Out on Court 8 meanwhile, British wildcard Tara Moore reached the second round for the first time beating Alison van Uytvanck 6-3, 6-2. The world no. 227, it was Moore’s first ever grand slam win in fact and came despite her Belgian opponent being ranked 100 places above her in the rankings.
Moore therefore had the privilege of becoming the first British woman into the second round of this year’s tournament, but shortly afterwards rising star Johanna Konta emerged on Court One intent on breaking her Wimbledon duck. The British no. 1 had never been beyond the first round before. In this her fifth attempt, the 25-year-old was up against Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig.
No easy task.
But a magnificent start from Konta saw her earn an early break point, which she soon doubled to lead 3-0 and from there she always had the momentum in the opening set.
Konta’s power overwhelmed Puig, particularly with the backhand and her opponent crumbled on set point as Konta broke again to win 6-1 in just twenty-three minutes. Dark clouds lurked and would soon become a nuisance as rain inevitably stopped play , but Konta – who has been a revelation on the women’s tour over the past twelve months – managed to get into a 2-1 lead before they came off court.