By Niall Clarke
- James Ward, Aljaz Bedene, Kyle Edmund and Brydan Klein in action.
- Ward vs Vanni, Bedene vs Stepanek, Edmund vs Dolgopolov, Klein vs Seppi.
- All in the same quarter along with Andy Murray.
Four British hopefuls will kick of their Wimbledon tournament, as we reach day two of The Championships on Tuesday.
James Ward was originally scheduled to face David Ferrer in the opening round, but the Spaniard withdrew from the tournament due to an elbow injury. Ward will instead face lucky loser Luca Vanni from Italy, who failed to qualify for the event.
Ward, 28, played at Queens Club and in Nottingham prior to Wimbledon, but failed to win a match. The Londoner lost to Milos Raonic and Tim Smyczek in three sets despite taking the first, and seemed to fade away in both matches.
Ward comes in on poor form, but the prospect of a round two berth has increased in chance with the withdrawal of seventh seed Ferrer. Vanni will still provide a stern challenge and should by no means be under-estimated.
The 30 year old is ranked three places below the Brit at 113 in the world, but is having one of his best seasons to date. The Italian made his first ATP tournament final in Sao Paulo (l.Cuevas), and qualified for the Madrid where he defeated Bernard Tomic to make the second round.
Although Vanni on paper looks an easier proposition that Ferrer, British expectations will be raised and the pressure multiplied. The question will be, can Ward handle the weight of expectation and the increased pressure on his shoulders? Or will he crack?
British number two Aljaz Bedene, would have been fairly contempt when he saw Radek Stepanek’s name next to his own in the draw. The Czech is reaching the end of his career at the tender age of 36 and has only played four main tour matches this year.
Ranked now at 203 in the world, this might be Stepanek’s last main draw appearance at Wimbledon. He is one of the last representatives of the dying serve and volley breed, and will have perhaps be extra motivated by the prospect of this being his last Wimbledon appearance.
Bedene played fairly well in the build up to Wimbledon, and will fancy his chances against a semi-retired Stepanek. This is the Slovenian born player’s first Wimbledon as a representative of Great Britain, so it is also a big match for Bedene.
With Ferrer now out, Kyle Edmund might have the distinction of having the hardest draw of all the British players. The Yorkshireman faces an in form Alexandr Dogopolov who beat Rafael Nadal at Queens two weeks ago.
Edmund, 20, has only recently recovered from a stomach injury that caused him to pull out of the French Open after the opening round. The British number three missed Queens due to the injury, but still managed to get some grass court preparation in Nottingham where he lost in the first round to Malek Jaziri.
Dolgopolov has had a decent warm up to Wimbledon. The 26 year old from the Ukraine defeated Nadal at Queens Club before moving on to make the semi-finals in Nottingham last week. Dolgopolov has been as high as 13 in the world, but an injury issues has sent his ranking plummeting down to 75. His best Wimbledon result is the third round (2014, 2015).
With a wide range of weapons and incredible variety, the talent of Dolgopolov is unquestionable. However his mind is, and that has what has held the Ukrainian back from fulfilling his potential. It will be interesting to see how Edmund copes with his variety, and how the Brit will adapt to his worst surface.
Finally, Brydan Klein will face 25th seed Andreas Seppi in the first round. The Brit has mainly applied his trade on the challenger circuit and has yet to make a breakthrough on to the main tour. But he likes the faster surfaces, especially the grass.
His opponent Seppi from Italy is in good form after reaching the final of Halle a few weeks ago. The 31 year old has made the fourth round at The All England Club in 2013, but last year he fell in the first round.
You can follow the boys’ progress on the Britwatchsports live scoring service: Live Scores