Andy Murray will face his second British opponent in succession after disposing of Aljaz Bedene in the second round of the Queen’s Club ATP 500 event earlier today. He will now face British Number Three Kyle Edmund, who defeated eighth seed Gilles Simon in the first round before being granted a walkover by Paul-Henri Mathieu in the second.
Andy Murray had to wait almost 10 years to face a British opponent in singles. Now he will play Brits on consecutive days…
— Stuart Fraser (@stu_fraser) June 16, 2016
— British Tennis (@BritishTennis) June 16, 2016
With several Brits in action at the Challenger event in Ilkley this week, there were only two lower-ranked Brits involved in qualifying, with Ed Corrie and Alexander Ward both securing qualifying wildcards and both losing in straight sets in the first round. However, there was plenty of British interest in the main draw, with wildcards handed to Edmund, Dan Evans and James Ward, with Bedene and Murray entering directly, the latter as the top seed.
However, it was Brits #1, 2 and 3 that made the second round without anyone else joining them, as Evans fell in a three-set thriller to French veteran Mathieu 7-6(8) 6-7(6) 6-3 despite serving 13 aces and having three set points in the first set, while Ward fell 6-4 6-4 to another tour veteran, Gilles Muller.
Edmund, however, continues to make huge inroads on the tour after by far his best rankings scalp of the year, defeating French world #18 Gilles Simon 6-4 3-6 6-1. The Brit was clean and efficient, taking three breaks from four opportunities, and was excellent at crucial moments to secure an unlikely victory that ultimately propelled him all the way through to a quarter-final meeting with Murray.
Murray and Bedene’s first round clashes were almost equally as gruelling, with two tiebreaks in each game and Brits winning three out of four: Murray won both of his against Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, going through 7-6(8) 7-6(1) after eventually grinding the 34-year-old down, while Bedene had to go the long way round, taking the first set 7-6(6) but dropping the second 6-7(7) against fancied Frenchman Benoit Paire, before grinding out the third 6-4 to set up a highly anticipated clash with Murray in the second round. Bedene’s trying match had 31 break points in total, but the Brit claimed his best win of the year in the process.
Thus came Murray’s clash with Bedene – Brits #1 and #2 going head-to-head for the first time ever in competitive action. In the end, it was an excellent service performance from the British Number One, who faced just two break points all match and won 89% of points on his first serve, nullifying Bedene’s 11 aces to win 6-3 6-4 in relatively comfortable fashion. With Murray’s protege Edmund up next, one would think the more experienced of the pair has enough knowledge of Edmund’s game to secure victory, but Edmund’s forehand is growing in ferocity every week, and it could well pose problems for an unfocused Murray if the Scot isn’t at his best.
Meanwhile, at the WTA Premier in Birmingham this week, ninth seed Johanna Konta is currently joined by Heather Watson in the second round, although rain has severely disrupted play throughout the week. Konta is due to play Yanina Wickmayer after the Brit came past Misaki Doi of Japan in straight sets in the first round, while Watson plays Barbora Strycova for the second time in as many months: the Brit lost to the Czech on the clay of Rome in May, and will be wanting to improve upon her 1-2 head-to-head record against the Czech with a victory tomorrow.
In the earlier rounds, wildcards Tara Moore and Naomi Broady only narrowly missed out on reaching the second round after both were defeated in straight sets after very capable performances against much higher-ranked players. Broady fell to Aussie Daria Gavrilova, while in-form Tara Moore lost out to Austrian qualifier Tamira Paszek. In qualifying, Laura Robson was able to claim a top 100 scalp for the first time this year with an incredible 6-4 6-1 win over American Varvara Lepchenko in the first round of qualifying, but couldn’t go any further, while wildcards Harriet Dart, Gabi Taylor, Katie Boulter and youngster Jodie Burrage all fell in the first round of the qualifying campaign.