After such brilliant ATP Challenger success in recent weeks, it’s almost as if the Brits have been overdue an off week. That week has been this week, with three Brits losing in the first or second rounds of the $100k event in Seoul, South Korea over the past three days.
Having qualified for the main event and picking up valuable ATP points in the process, both Liam Broady and Alexander Ward were handed winnable matches in the first round, with Broady up against Korean wildcard Soon Woo Kwon and Ward facing fellow qualifier, Dane Frederik Neilsen. Meanwhile, fourth seed Evans was up against Slovenian Grega Zemlja. One Brit made it through, and certainly not the one most people were expecting.
Alex Ward is a clay court player through and through, so success at these Korean hard court Challengers was never really on most people’s radars. However, Ward battled through an epic clash against Neilsen with a final set tiebreak victory, coming back from 5-3 down in the decider to secure victory from a set down for the fifth time this year, 6-7(5) 6-3 7-6(4). Elsewhere, however, Broady lost 3-6 6-4 6-3 to Kwon, losing only his fourth three-set match in thirteen this year, while Evans, perhaps unsurprisingly exhausted due to reaching the final of his two last events, fell 6-3 6-3 to Zemlja, winning just one break point from eight.
“Delighted for Alex after a terrific win and Dan is not a surprise. After the two weeks he has had, there was going to a an “after the Lord Mayor’s Show” performance somewhere as fatigue catches up with him, so no real disaster there.” – Bob in Spain, British Tennis Forums
Ward marched on to the second round where he met top seed John Millman of Australia, a familiar figure recently, given he played both Broady and Evans in last week’s event and won one and lost one. Unfortunately, this week, it wasn’t to be for the third Brit in Millman’s way, with Ward going down 6-4 6-2, without creating a single break point chance all match.
So no British Challenger finalists this week, but we can’t have it all our own way all the time, can we?