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.
This has been a strange week. Andy Murray was the sole male to make it into the last eight of any competition anywhere whilst there was more – albeit still limited – success on the ladies side. So a smaller list of players this week but, as per usual, we still have a trophy to celebrate.
#3 – Emily Appleton – 38° Torneo Internazionale “Città Di Santa Croce” Mauro Sabatini (G1): Runner-up
In a week of rather limited success, Emily was a shining light due to her run to the final of the Grade One Junior tournament in Italy. British eyes were firmly focused on top seed Katie Swan but instead it was Britain’s number two that stole the show.
@ejappleton14 6-2 6-1 in a Grade 1 semi – that’s pretty impressive in anyone’s language. Gotta win it for GB now – and for you of course!
— David James (@nottstennisfan) May 13, 2016
Sixth seeded Emily looked in breath-taking form as she dispatched seed after seed to progress to the final. First she saw off a wildcard before defeating the tenth, fourteenth and fifteenth seeds respectively – all in straight sets. The difficulty of these big junior tournaments is that they have one extra round than futures events and unfortunately Emily ran out of puff right when it mattered, losing to the sixteenth seeded Eva Guerrero Alvarez 6-1 6-1.
That grade one trophy continues to elude Emily who now has two runner-ups to her name – both in the last few months. Nevertheless, this week is simply another building block on what has been an excellent year for the 16 year old. Of her six singles rankings counters, five of those have come from 2016 results.
— Gabriella Taylor (@gabitaylorr) May 13, 2016
#2 – Gabi Taylor – $10,000 Monzon : Doubles – Champion and Singles – Semi-Final
Amongst the wealth of promising British girls, it feels sometimes as though Gabi is overlooked. She seems to be in a similar mould to Alex Ward in that she is often found slogging it alone, with few fellow Brits for company. However, her year has been extremely steady, with just one first round loss so far.
Third seeded Gabi looked in cruise control through her first three rounds as she won them all in straight sets. It unravelled a bit in her semi-final but considering she was facing the top seed there is no shame in suffering defeat. Impressively, she responded in the doubles, marching through the field to claim her first ever senior doubles title.
We are not even half way through 2016 but Gabi has already halved 2015’s end-of-year ranking by breaking the top 500. All of this has happened before she has even completed a full season on the professional circuit. Impressively, she is already having a crack at some 25Ks – and is getting some victories as well. It will be intriguing to see whether she can crack the top 400 before next year.
#1 – Andy Murray – Internazionali BNL d’italia (Rome Masters): Champion
As I said, there was no denying that Murray’s draw was particularly kind for a Masters event. Kukushkin, Chardy, Goffin and Pouille is a relative cake walk for the world number two. But his display in the final against the imperious Djokovic marks this week as a real turning point in the narrative leading up to the French Open.
It was just last week that Murray slipped back behind Roger Federer in the rankings. Seven days later and he is nearly 1,500 points clear of the Swiss maestro. His performance in Rome not only marks him out as a French Open favourite but ensures that he avoids facing Novak until the final. Now he just needs to hope that Rafa ends up lurking in the opposite half of the draw and then suddenly things are looking very rosy for Britain’s hero.
@andy_murray is God 🏆🖖🏾👆🏾✌🏾️😝
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) May 15, 2016
Just Missed Out
Amanda Carreras – A superb week coming through qualifying and marching through to the semi-finals of a 50K. Rewarded with a spot inside the top 300 for the first time..
Harriet Dart – Reached the semi-finals of her 10K in Antalya. Unable to topple the top seed but not surprising considering she is on a ten match unbeaten streak.
Not the strongest of weeks by our standards. It seems that most of Britain’s efforts were channelled through Andy Murray’s superb romp in Rome. Will we have more success next week with Roland Garros right around the corner?