Ward exits on grim day for Brits

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Published: Tuesday 20th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Andy Murray found himself in the familiar position of lone British player remaining in a grand slam after James Ward followed Heather Watson and Kyle Edmund out of the Australian Open on Tuesday.

While Watson and Edmund lost in straight sets to Tsvetana Pironkova and Steve Johnson respectively, Ward won the opening set against 31st seed Fernando Verdasco and – after losing the second 6-0 – was a break up in the third on court seven.

However, the British number two was then broken back and was unable to convert a set point in the tie-break, eventually losing it 8-6 as Spaniard Verdasco raised his game at the crucial moment.

Ward had been in confident mood ahead of the match after joining Murray in his winter training camp in Florida and qualifying for the main draw via his world ranking, which reached a career-high of 101 earlier this month.

But the writing was firmly on the wall when he lost his serve in the opening game of the fourth set on his way to a 2-6 6-0 7-6 (8/6) 6-3 defeat in two hours and 42 minutes.

That meant sixth seed Murray, who takes on Australian Marinko Matosevic in the second round on Wednesday, was the last British player left in the singles just after 3:30pm local time on the second day.

Ward said: “It was a very high level from both of us and he said that to me at the end. But obviously I had chances, especially at 5-4 and serving in the tie-break. I will go away and look at it again and if I am in the same position again try to do something a little different.

“It came down to one or two points and even in the second set I did not drop off that much. I did not think it was really a 6-0 set.”

Ward admitted not holding onto his lead in the third set proved crucial, adding: “Of course if I hold serve twice more I am up 2-1 up but it was very tough conditions. It was very windy and we both broke each other when serving into the wind.”

Published: Tuesday 20th January 2015 by The News Editor

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