Brits invade Marseille – in action this week
By Phil James
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Though Andy Murray is not on the schedule after his week in Rotterdam, there are plenty of British men who are, especially at the Open 13 ATP250 in Marseille.
Despite the absence of the British number one, there could be three Brits in the men’s singles draw.
Youngster Kyle Edmund has been given a wildcard entry while both Dan Evans and James Ward have reached the final round of qualifying on the French hard courts.
Evans is playing his first tournament since reaching the semi-final of the Zagreb ATP250 Indoors, a tournament where he lost in qualifying but entered as a lucky loser.
That run in Croatia, which took him to a career high ranking of 123, saw Britain’s number two defeat Philipp Kohlschreiber and pushed Tommy Haas all the way.
Now Evans has to take care of the opponents he is expected to beat, in order to make it to the main stage again.
Seeded second for the qualifying, Evans has already won two matches and plays Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen, ranked 241, tomorrow for a spot in the main draw.
Also one win away is Ward, Britain’s number three and seeded eighth in the qualifying.
Ward and Evans have had contrasting fortunes of late; though neither man qualified for the Australian Open, while Evans was dropped from the Davis Cup team, Ward not only kept his place in the team but scored a huge upset win over Sam Querrey which essentially sealed the tie.
However, while Evans set about proving his doubters wrong in Zagreb, Ward returned to action last week at the Quimper Challenger and lost in the first round.
Londoner Ward has also won two matches to reach the final round of qualifying and faces the fourth seed, Ricardas Berankis, for a place in the main draw.
At 153, Berankis is ranked 25 places higher than Ward and won their only ever meeting: a Davis Cup rubber in 2010.
19-year-old Edmund, who took Evan’s place in the provisional Davis Cup squad, faces German Tobias Kamke in the first round.
There is also a strong British doubles contingent at the Open 13, with Colin Fleming, Ross Hutchins, Jonathan Marray and Ken & Neal Skupski all featuring.
Though ranked down at 566 after a year away battling cancer, Hutchins’ has used his protected ranking to gain entrance.
Reunited with long-term playing partner Fleming, the pair are rewarded with a tough first round draw against third seeds Julian Knowle and Johan Brunstrom.
Another all-British team comprises of the Skupski brother, Ken and Neal, who face Henri Kontinen and Mateusz Kowalczyk in round one.
Meanwhile Marray again partners Paul Hanley and they play a wild card pair from Taipei, Hsin-Han Lee and Chieh-Fu Wang.
Meanwhile Britain’s top ranked doubles player, Dominic Inglot, plays at the Rio Open in Brazil with usual partner Treat Huey.
The pair are seeded fourth and face the Argentinean qualifiers Federico Delbonis and Leonardo Mayer.