By Kieran Jackson

  • James Ward loses in four sets to Italian Benjamin Bonzi
  • Former finalists Genie Bouchard and Vera Zvonareva progress to main draw
  • Alex Bolt beats countryman Thanasi Kokkinakis with Lleyton Hewitt watching on
ROEHAMPTON, UK – For the first time since 2015, there won’t be a British qualifier in the main draw, after James Ward falls at the final hurdle at the Bank of England Club.

 

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Following Dan Evans’ disappointing straight sets defeat in the second round on Tuesday, as well as defeats for Alexander Ward  and Lloyd Glasspool , James Ward  was Great Britain’s last representative on the final day of Wimbledon qualifying in Roehampton.

However, despite showing flashes of brilliance, Ward was ultimately outplayed on the day by Italian Benjamin Bonzi , who coupled his consistency with some clever variation throughout the match, with the world number 203 coming through 6-4 6-2 1-6 6-0. Despite Ward breaking his opponent in the opening game, the 31-year-old let the set slip away from him, missing some routine backhands as he gave up his serve in the fourth game and then again at 5-4 down, to hand the set to Bonzi on a plate.

Bonzi then rose his level in the second set, and despite the prospect of a comeback when the Brit took the third set, it was Bonzi who found his form once again, with Ward unable to counter some accurate winners from the Italian , to the frustration of a large home crowd on court 16.

It means for the first time since 2015, no British players qualified for the Wimbledon main draw, despite 15 wildcards being awarded.

There was more joy however for former finalists Eugenie Bouchard  and Vera Zvonareva  after they came through their final round matches against seeded players in straight sets. 2014 finalist Bouchard, who has played superbly all week with new coach Robert Lansdorp watching on, thrashed second seed Mariana Duque-Marino 6-3 6-2, whilst 2010 finalist Zvonareva overcame sixth seed Caroline Dolehide  6-2 6-3.

There were also wins in the women’s singles for Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru, who knocked out number one seed Tamara Zidansek  in three sets, former world number 74 Evgeniya Rodina and last year’s girls singles champion Claire Liu  of the United States.

Meanwhile in the men’s singles, the match of the day on paper was an all-Aussie clash between Alex Bolt  and Thanasi Kokkinakis , with Australian Davis Cup captain and two-time Grand Slam champion Lleyton Hewitt  watching on.

In a tight affair on court 15, Bolt (who had never previously qualified for a major) took the opening two sets on a tie-break, and eventually came through in four sets, falling to the ground as he put away a forehand volley to win 7-6(6) 7-6(4) 4-6 7-5. After the match, speaking to Britwatch Sports’ Kieran Jackson, Bolt could not contain his delight at the win – the culmination of two years of hard work since he took a year-long break form the game in 2016.

“I came back at the start of 2017 and two years later I’ve qualified for Wimbledon! I would never have dreamt of this in my life.”

“It’s always tough playing one of your mates, but I’m pretty grateful for the win. I know he’s had big wins in his career and that gives me a lot of belief in my game that I can take it to these top guys.”

There was also an impressive win for American Bradley Klahn , who beat former world number 36 Simone Bolelli in straight sets, and tour veterans Ernests Gulbis  and John-Patrick Smith  also won their respective final round matches. But there will be no spot for 2011 quarter-finalist Bernard Tomic. The much-maligned Australian was struggling with a leg injury throughout, and slumped to a 6-3 6-1 6-2 defeat to second seeded Belgian Ruben Bemelmans .

Wimbledon gets underway on Monday 2ndJuly, with the draw taking place tomorrow at 10:00 BST.

 

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