Tuesday, 22/8/2017 | 1:01 UTC+1
Britennis

Sam Murray Sole British Quarter-Finalist in Surbiton

The final second round matches at the ATP Challenger €42.5k and the corresponding Women’s ITF Futures $50k event in Surbiton, UK have taken place this evening, and only one Brit has survived to the quarter-finals of the event: Sam Murray, who has recently returned to the tour after a lengthy absence, will be the sole Brit standing as the quarter-finals get underway tomorrow.

There was plenty of British interest in qualifying for both events, with three Brits coming through outright and two securing berths in the main draw thanks to lucky loser spots, as well as a host of wildcards being made available for the most promising British youngsters.

Men’s Qualifying

Five youngsters – Alastair Gray, Max Benaim, Jack Molloy, Marcus Walters, Louis Newman and Michael Morphy – were all given wildcards into qualifying, but none of them really made an impact. The first three enjoyed byes through the first round of qualifying before falling the 2nd, 3rd and 5th qualifying seeds respectively in straight sets, while Walters and Newman both faced fellow Brits – Joe Salisbury and Neil Pauffley respectively – and went out in the first round, with neither player winning more than three games against their more experienced compatriots. Meanwhile, Morphy fell to Irishman David O’Hare 6-3 6-4 in the first round of qualifying.

The second round of qualifying was where the majority of Brits became involved: Jonny O’Mara, who has enjoyed a decent run of form recently, was the standout performer, beating 8th seed Luke Bambridge 6-4 7-6(9) after a tense second set tiebreak, while there were wins for the other two British seeds, Dan Smethurst [7] (vs Salisbury) and Joshua Milton [4] (vs O’Hare), with the latter snapping a 5-match losing streak. Unfortunately, Neil Pauffley fell 6-4 6-2 to top seed Marius Copil of Romania, while Alexis Canter lost 6-3 6-0 to 6th seed Bradley Mousley of Australia.

That left just Smethurst, Milton and O’Mara in the final round of qualifying, and with O’Mara and Milton playing each other, we were guaranteed at least one qualifier. Smethurst, up against top seed Copil, threatened to upset the rankings but in the end was edged out 7-6(3) 4-6 6-3by the Romanian, but it was once again O’Mara who impressed, clinching a 6-4 6-2 win over Milton, facing just two breakpoints, saving both, and winning 92% of points on his first serve.

Women’s Qualifying

The women’s draw was positively stuffed with Brits, and with ranking points on offer from the very first qualifying round, there was a lot to play for, even if some of the ladies didn’t manage to qualify – with Dominque Covington, Lauren McMinn and Holly Hutchinson all one win away (i.e. a third counter) from being ranked on the WTA Tour.

As it happened, both Covington and Hutchinson will be ranked in two weeks time after both players secured victories: Hutchinson overcame fellow Brit Lisa Phillips 7-5 6-0, while Covington defeated Louise Holtum 4-6 6-3 6-2 in a predictably close match. McMinn will have to wait, though, having lost 6-0 6-1 to 4th seed Alexandra Stevenson of the United States.

Wildcards were a mixture of failure and huge success: Lauren Bishop, Tiffany William, Thalia Martin and Natalie Hepburn all fell in the first qualifying round, but Georgina Axon and Ola Pitak both came through, with Axon defeating Sophia Bursulaya of the States and Pitak pulling off a quite remarkable 7-6(7) 7-6(5) win over 6th seed Mia Eklund of Finland. Elsewhere, there were defeats against non-British opposition for Ceire Mullins and Katarina Weymouth, while Anna Popescu (d. Holly Horsfall), Kasia Pitak (d. Alisha Reayer), [8] Beth Grey (d. Hepburn), Elise van Heuvelen (d. Gemma Heath), [4] Emily Arbuthnott (d. Lauren Harrington), Lily Ghodrati (d. Martin), Emma Hurst (d. William) and [7] Lucy Brown (d. Bishop) all won.

With five all-Brit clashes in the second round of qualifying, Britain was guaranteed five players in the final round, and could have had seven. In the end, six made it through: Kasia Pitak defeated fellow youngster Anna Popescu 6-4 7-6, while wildcard Georgina Axon pulled off an excellent 6-1 6-4 win over 5th seed Natalie Proese of Germany to continue making the world take notice of her ability. Holly Hutchinson fell to the second seed, while Beth Grey defeated Dominique Covington 6-1 6-4. Ola Pitak joined her sister in the final round with a 6-3 1-6 6-2 win over fellow Brit Elise van Heuvelen, while 4th seed Arbuthnott eased past Lily Ghodrati. The titanic clash of the day came in the final match between Emma Hurst and 7th seed Lucy Brown, with the unseeded player winning 4-6 6-3 7-6 by the narrowest of margins.

In the final round of qualifying, the two all-Brit affairs yielded the only two British qualifiers: Georgina Axon continued her fantastic week with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Kasia Pitak to pick up 5 WTA points and qualification for the main draw. Beth Grey and Ola Pitak both fell to foreign opposition, while Emily Arbuthnott, the fourth seed, defeated Emma Hurst 6-0 6-4.

Men’s Main Draw

In the main draw, Lloyd Glasspool, Alex Ward, Liam Broady and Ed Corrie received wildcards. Glasspool came up against 4th seed Bjorn Fratangelo and fell 6-2 7-6(4), while Ward suffered a similar defeat at the hands of 7th seed Di Wu of China, going down 6-1 7-6(5). Broady, however, picked up an impressive final set tiebreak victory over 6th seed Tim Smyczek, winning 3-6 6-2 7-6(2) for his 7th comeback victory of the year. Meanwhile, Ed Corrie secured a 6-3 6-4 win over Aldin Sektic of Bosnia. Elsewhere in the draw, Brydan Klein lost his eighth match in a row to go down 6-2 6-4 against John Patrick Smith of Australia, while top seed Dan Evans came past Alex Sarkissian, qualifier Jonny O’Mara continued his march onwards with a 6-2 6-4 win over Chinese Zhe Li, and lucky loser Joshua Milton fell 6-4 6-2 to qualifier Marius Copil of Romania.

Sadly, the second round saw all four Brits tumble out of the competition: top seed Evans, who appeared to fall back into his less-than-pretty behavioural habits during the match, fell to Copil, who defeated his fourth British player in succession, while O’Mara lost in straight sets to Fratangelo, who claimed another British scalp as well. Liam Broady pushed Aussie Luke Saville all the way before falling 3-6 6-2 7-6(5), while Ed Corrie fell to enigmatic German Dustin Brown 6-3 6-3.

Women’s Main Draw

It was three wildcards that progressed to the second round of the ITF Futures $50k, with only Katy Dunne entered as a direct entrants and the rest of the eight Brits coming from four wildcards, two qualifiers and one lucky loser – Emma Hurst. Dunne fell 7-5 6-1 to Stephanie Foretz of France, while both British qualifiers, Emily Arbuthnott and Georgina Axon, fell in straight sets to seeded opposition. Emma Hurst also lost 6-0 6-2 to Alison Bai of Australia. Harriet Dart was the only wildcard not to win her first round match, although she put up a good fight against 7th seed Robin Anderson of the States, going down 6-7(3) 6-1 6-2. Excellent wins, though, for Sam Murray, who won 6-7(3) 7-5 6-4 against the second seed Kai-Chen Chang of Taiwan, Gabi Taylor, who thrashed Renata Zarazua of Mexico 6-1 6-0, and young Emily Appleton, who defeated American qualifier Alexandra Steveson 6-4 7-5 to pick up her first ITF Futures $50k main draw win of her career.

In the second round, Appleton faced Melanie Oudin of the United States. Oudin is a former world #31 and the gulf in class was clear to see, as the 22-year-old beat the 16-year-old Brit 6-0 6-2. However, we were guaranteed a British quarter-finalist, with Gabi taylor and Sam Murray paired together – although, given Gabi’s recent form, a closer match could have been expected against 28-year-old Murray. Instead, Murray, the former world #165, continued her excellent comeback from injury with a 6-3 6-0 win, and will now face Oudin in the quarter-finals. Oudin won their only previous encounter back in 2012 on the hard courts of Canada.

About

25-year-old University of St Andrews graduate with a rather insane passion for British Tennis. Boston United fan (don't ask). Favourite tennis player: the Brummie bunch - Dan Evans and Lloyd Glasspool.

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