Plucky Ward sunk in Wimbledon epic

Thu, 28 Jun 20:06:00 2012

World number 173 James Ward lost 6-3 5-7 6-4 6-7 6-3 to 10th seed Mardy Fish in an epic five-set second-round encounter at Wimbledon.

James Ward of Britain, June 28 2012 (Reuters) - 0

The British number two, playing the biggest match and highest-ranked opponent in his career, did himself proud on a packed Court One as he twice came from a set down, saved a match point in the fourth set before winning it on a tie-break and only going out after a slack service game at 4-3 in the decider.

Fish looked stunned at times by the quality of Ward’s winners and approach play, the Englishman showing excellent stamina for a lower-ranked player who rarely plays beyond three sets.

That fitness is in part to his training regime – he is coached by a Mixed Martial Arts fighter – and at one point it looked like he had the measure of Fish, who seemed to tire later in the four-hour plus match, having missed two and a half months play after undergoing a heart procedure.

“I stayed in there as much as possible, and he played a lot of big first serves on the big points,” Ward said afterwards. “It may not be the best match of my career as I lost, but the atmosphere and the crowd were great. The standing ovation at the end was unbelievable

“I played well, but so did he. It was enjoyable – how can you not enjoy an atmosphere like that? Credit to him, he played really well, and I hope to be back here next year.”

Fish was magnanimous in victory, admitting he had been given a run for his money by the lowly Ward.

“He played a lot better than the number next to his name and he certainly was one of the tougher opponents that I can remember playing at Wimbledon over the past few years,” the American said.

“He hit winners and big serves at the key times, I didn’t lose the sets, he won them.”

Ward goes out knowing he will rise around 20 places in the ATP rankings, while Fish will play young Belgian David Goffin for a place in the last 16.

Anne Keothavong’s Wimbledon run also came to a halt in the second round after she was outclassed 6-1 6-1 by Sara Errani in under an hour.

British number one Keothavong played relatively poorly, double faulting away two breaks and failing to take three break points in an error-strewn performance on Court Two.

French Open finalist and 10th seed Errani, meanwhile, was clinical and ruthless, barely making a mistake and taking all her opportunities to break as her opponent was punished on her second serve.

"It was a nice court to play on and I had lots of support," Keothavong said wistfully following the defeat. "I'm just disappointed I couldn't have done a little better."

"I know I can play better. I didn't challenge her today as much as I would have liked. To lose in that fashion, it's not particularly pleasing.

"I just forced it a bit too much. I managed to kind of just hit myself off the court, I guess."

Italy’s Errani faces Yaroslava Shvedova in the third round after the Kazakhstani wildcard saw off Kiki Bertens 6-4 6-4.

Defending champion Petra Kvitova eased into the third round with a 6-0 6-4 victory over Elena Baltacha.

The 22-year-old Czech raced through the first set in 22 minutes against Baltacha, who was vying for her first third- round appearance at Wimbledon since 2002.

Kvitova was made to work harder in the second by the British number three who saved two match points before the fourth seed sealed victory with a crashing forehand on Court Two.

Kvitova, who has reached the semi-finals in three of the last four Grand Slams, will play America's Varvara Lepchenko in the third round on Saturday.

Reda Maher - Twitter @Reda_Eurosport / Reuters / Eurosport

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