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.
Overall it was a pretty mediocre week for Brits with juniors and futures suffering mostly first or second round exists. Nevertheless, there was still a Grand Slam title and some wildcard wonders to marvel at.
#3 – Gordon Reid – French Open: Men’s Wheelchair Doubles Champions and Men’s Wheelchair Singles Runner-up
It slipped disappointingly under the radar that British wheelchair tennis had a superb French Open campaign. Three finals from only two competitors is a good return in my book and the main man – making two finals – was Gordon Reid. The Australian Open Champion has obviously got a taste for Grand Slam silverware.
— Tennis Foundation (@TennisFndation) June 4, 2016
For those that don’t know, a Wheelchair Grand Slam is made up of just the eight best in the world so it was always going to be an intense field and in just his second match Gordon found himself facing world #1 Stephane Houdet. Remarkably given their differing form on clay, Gordon won in straight sets. Unfortunately he lost in the final to fellow youngster Gustavo Fernandez. However, he more than made up for it by collecting his first Roland Garros doubles title.
What impressed me most about Gordon was that he performed at the highest level despite having had a relatively poor clay court season. That is the mark of a champion and I have little doubt that you will be hearing plenty more of the 24 year old over the coming years. Also worth keeping an eye out for Alfie Hewitt who is not far off making a Grand Slam debut with a ranking just outside the top #10.
#2 – Andy Murray – French Open: Runner-Up
It’s tricky to really add anything to the Murray/Djokovic topic given the multitude of pieces written about them in the aftermath of the French Open final. Ultimately though it’s just the same headline as we’ve seen too many times before – “Andy Murray loses Grand Slam final to Novak Djokovic”. Unfortunately, it probably isn’t the last time we’ll see it either.
Let’s focus on the positives though this week. Comparative to week one of Roland Garros, Andy’s level was much better this week. He looked scintillating against both Richard Gasquet and Stan Wawrinka and when he took the first set off of Djokovic it looked like we might really be onto something. Alas, it all unravelled rather quickly but at the end of the day there is no shame in losing to Novak Djokovic. He isn’t half bad.
If Andy Murray finishes the season being runner-up everywhere I am calling it the Silver Slam and you can’t stop me.
— Courtney Nguyen (@FortyDeuceTwits) June 3, 2016
Whilst it may have seemed a bitter blow at the weekend, Murray needs to dust himself down and avert his focus towards a manic summer. Wimbledon then possibly Davis Cup and then the Olympics will come and go in a flash. I would be amazed if these two don’t meet again and when they do hopefully Murray can produce a different outcome.
#1 – Tara Moore – AEGON Eastbourne Trophy (50K): Runner-Up
With all the French Open excitement going on it was easy to forget that the grass court season actually began last week. Eastbourne was the destination for a host of talented Brits and one of those was Tara Moore. Gifted with a wildcard into the main draw, Tara repaid the favour in quite spectacular style.
Proud Of My Girl @TaraMoore92 For Reaching Finals Here In Eastbourne 50k 🎾💪 One More To Go 🇬🇧🌱
— Conny Perrin (@conny_perrin) June 2, 2016
Tara has always looked at home on grass but few were expecting her to win her first two matches for the loss of just eleven games. She then upset talented youngsters Donna Vekic and Oceane Dodin to reach the final of the 50K as a wildcard. Remarkable. Top seeded American Alison Riske was her reward in the final and, although the American eventually emerged victorious, Tara ran her agonisingly close, eventually going down 6-4 6-7(5) 3-6.
Tara’s superb week didn’t end there though. She raced across to the Midlands to take part in qualifying for the WTA event in Nottingham. Three days later and she has dispatched three opponents ranked above her and made it into the event where she faces Donna Vekic. I don’t own a hat, but if Tara doesn’t get a Wimbledon wildcard I will buy one and eat it.
Just Missed Out
Jordanne Whiley – Won her second French Open wheelchair doubles title and beat the world #1 in the singles. Moves up to #3 in the world as a consequence.
Ken and Neal Skupski – Two for the price of one as these two come as a package deal. The second seeds lost in the final courtesy of an agonising 11-9 deciding tie break.
Alex Ward – A couple of eye-catching upsets for the wildcard in Manchester defeating both Alejandro Falla and Michael Berrer before falling in the quarters.
Fran Stephenson – Reached her fourth consecutive doubles final, although did lose once again. Still an impressive feat at any level.
Do you agree that Tara stole the show away from the French Open? Do the wheelchair players – Gordon and Jordanne – sneak ahead in your vote? Or did Andy’s second week form tip the pendulum in his favour? Get your vote in now!