Our weekly feature, Brits of the Week, assesses the three most impactful British players from the week just gone, in the opinion of our correspondent Sam Barker.
I think I can honestly say I have not had a tougher week deciding who to place in the top three. There has been success at pretty much every level of British tennis this week and trying to rank that success has proved tricky to say the least. By all means e-mail me or comment afterwards to tell me just how horrifyingly wrong I am.
Pic with coach and dad after getting the win in Italy this week👊🏻🎾🎉🇮🇹 https://t.co/Jp5lh7xGYn
— Kyle Edmund (@kyle8edmund) May 8, 2016
#3 – Kyle Edmund – ATP Challenger, Roma Garden Open, €42.5k: Champion
Kyle’s interesting decision to skip the Rome Masters and instead just play the Rome Challenger proved to be an unheralded success. Whether he felt he wanted to get some clay court match-play on the board ahead of the French Open, or simply wanted to build on last year’s quarter-final appearance, Kyle reaped the rewards.
He went in as the second seed and made mincemeat of his opponents. Just the one set was dropped – against Blaz Rola in the quarter-final – and he responded to that by serving up a bagel. Initially he found himself in a contest against fifth seed Filip Krajinovic in the final, only coming through the first set on a tie-break. However, he wrested control in the second set to take the match and his second challenger title of the year.
There is an incredibly interesting battle opening up between the British numbers two, three and four. With Aljaz Bedene struggling for form but Dan Evans looking virtually unbeatable, the three are now separated by just over 100 points. I wonder whether this battle – ultimately for a Davis Cup spot as well – will inspire Kyle to kick on in his journey towards the top #50.
#2 – Francesca Jones – ITF Juniors Panaceo ITF Junior Cup, Grade 2: Champion
Very much a blink and you miss it kind of story with everything else that was going on but young Francesca Jones won’t be forgetting this week any time soon. The 15 year old has been a consistent figure on the juniors tour this year but has had relatively little success, with just a couple of singles quarter-final appearances to show for her troubles. Things took a positive turn this week though.
Let’s not beat around the bush here. Fran decimated the field in Austria. The seventh seed roared out of the blocks with a double bagel, and backed that up by dropping just sixteen games in her next three matches – which included defeating both the second and fourth seeds. In the final Fran was faced with the top seed, but was not overawed at all, coming through as a 7-6 6-4 winner against a player ranked over 70 places higher.
— jodie burrage (@jodieburrage) May 7, 2016
Off the back of this title, there is a strong chance that Fran may break the top 100. If she does, she will be the first British junior born this millennium to make the leap inside, although she does face stiff competition from Ali Collins. With another full year expected on the junior circuit, there is no telling quite how high this tenacious youngster will go.
#1 – Jodie Burrage – ITF Juniors Mediterannee Avenir, Casablanca, Grade 1: Champion
Back-to-back Brits of the Week champion. Forget trophies, rankings, international appearances, because this is what young British tennis players dream of achieving. Semi-serious exaggerations aside, Jodie produced some phenomenal results this week in Morocco. Not only did she claim back-to-back titles, but she won this week in the Grade 1 category, a level at which she had never even reached a quarter-final before.
As if anything could have made this week any more impressive, she managed all of this without dropping a set for the second week running. Results of 6-1 6-4, 6-3 6-3, 6-4 7-5, 6-4 6-2 and 6-3 6-4 make for very positive reading. This level of both mental and physical consistency is not that common amongst youngsters and is an incredibly impressive trait to demonstrate at this young age.
It was quite literally only last week that we were celebrating Jodie bulldozing her way into the top #100 of the juniors. One week later and we’re celebrating her heading inside the top #50 – and well inside as well I might add. Jodie will become the British #2 behind Katie Swan and immediately cements her label as one of the brightest of the future. Keep an eye out for this girl during the British grass court swing.
.@andy_murray really grateful and honoured to have witnessed your sportsmanship tonight. Tennis is lucky to have you as ambassador.Thank you
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) May 8, 2016
Just Missed Out
Andy Murray – Sturdy defence of his Madrid title. Defeated an in-form Rafael Nadal and only came unstuck against that pesky Serbian named Novak.
Georgina Axon – A set of semi-finals for Georgina in the singles and doubles in Morocco. A strong all-round week.
Dan Evans – Continues to demonstrate why his decision to ignore the clay season was inspired. Fell in the final of this week’s challenger.
Samantha Murray – The successful road to recovery continued this week with a doubles title and a singles semi-final in Egypt. Will regain her WTA ranking.
Josh Sapwell – Quietly plugging away on the AEGON Tour, Josh claimed his third straight title this week in Norwich.