James Ward wins battle of the Brits; Marray and Nielsen go head-to-head

By Philip James

James Ward def Kyle Edmund 6-3, 6-4

London-born James Ward got the better of his young compatriot Kyle Edmund, in the first round of the Sarasota Open Challenger in Florida today.

Ward is eight years older and ranked 301 places above 18-year-old Edmund who is currently at a career high of 515th in the world.

It was Ward’s first singles match since his five-set victory over Dmitry Tursunov in Team GB’s epic Davis Cup victory over Russia two weekends ago.

That win left fans and pundits wondering if Ward could translate the form to the tour and he made no mistake against Edmund, who was playing in a Challenger main draw for the first time this season.

The match was no walkover however with just one break deciding each set, Ward winning 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 17 minutes.

Ward, Britain’s number 2, was able to take advantage of Edmund’s second serve and broke five times in total, though Edmund did well to break his opponent’s big serve three times himself.

Ward now faces Mischa Zverev who upset the world number 73 and top seed at the green clay tournament, American Michael Russell, in round one.

Also waiting to play in Sarasota is Jamie Murray, fresh from winning the Houston ATP250 title with John Peers on Sunday.

Murray and Peers, who beat the Bryan brothers in the final in Houston, are second seeds and will play qualifiers Ilija Bozoljac and Somdev Devvarman in the first round.

Of course the main event on tour this week is the Monte Carlo Masters where British interest begins tomorrow.

The men’s doubles draw has thrown up a fantastic first round tie as Colin Fleming and Jonathan Marray face Frederik Nielsen and Julian Knowle.

In a high quality match-up, where all the players are ranked inside the doubles top 30, the main talking point will be the 2012 Wimbledon men’s doubles champions going head-to-head.

Marray and Nielsen has played just one tournament together before taking SW19 by storm last year, going on to win the grand slam to everybody’s surprise.

Though they played in the end of year World Tour Finals at the O2 together, Nielsen always stressed he wanted to concentrate on his singles game and the pair would not become a regular team.

That said Nielsen has played doubles in six tournaments so far this year and now the two are on opposite sides of the net for the first time since their Wimbledon heroics.

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