The opening day of the inaugural Battle of the Brits showcased the sheer depth of talent at the top of British Tennis. The main event on day 1 saw Andy Murray win in his first match since November.
Dominant singles wins came from Andy Murray, Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans. A surprising loss for Battle of the Brits doubles event favorites Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski as they fell to Liam Broady and Cameron Norrie in a tight three set match.
The day brought light onto the reality of the return to tennis. No change of ends in matches, no ball kids, hawk-eye line calling throughout and racket fives as handshakes. To add, headsets were occasionally worn by players so that they can answer questions from the commentator during a rest break.
Liam Broady/Cam Norrie def. Jamie Murray/Neal Skupski: 3-6 7-5 11-9
After a shaky start by Broady and Norrie having been broken in their first service game, the underdogs managed to pull off a sublime upset over the established pairing of Murray and Skupski.
The “unorthodox pairing”, as described by Broady himself, showed off their true grit by fighting back to take the second set 7-5 and ultimately the final set tiebreak 11-9.
Kyle Edmund def. James Ward: 6-1 6-4
Kyle Edmund headlined the first singles match of day 1 as he beat world number 273 James Ward. Edmund kept a cool head throughout despite being asked about Liverpool’s Premier League title hopes mid-match in the new commentator-player interview initiative.
Dan Evans def. Jay Clarke: 6-3 6-1
The Dan Evans vs Jay Clarke match up stayed true to its predictions. British No.1 and title contender Evans defeated his 21 year old and world number 166 opponent 6-3 6-1.
Evans continued his brilliant form from before the coronavirus suspended the ATP and WTA tours.
Each point, he manages to deliver something new. One point he is inside the baseline as the aggressor, the next he is way behind the baseline maneuvering Clarke from corner to corner with his world class slice backhand.
Evans was always just one step ahead of Clarke.
Andy Murray def. Liam Broady: 6-2 6-2
Andy Murray started his Battle of the Brits off in winning style, despite voicing concerns over his lack of practice time over the last few months. All eyes were on Murray’s movement, which seemed to improve as the match progressed.
The former world number one showed his incredible match playing ability in order to see off world number 211 Broady. Murray described his performance as “OK” in his post-match interview, putting his victory down to a strong serving display.
Murray will hope to build on today’s win when he faces Kyle Edmund tomorrow in the second round of matches in the Tim Henman Group.
Kyle Edmund/James Ward def. Ryan Peniston/Dom Inglot: 7-5 6-3
The final match of the day included two replacement players as earlier in the day, 18-year old Jack Draper was forced to withdraw from both singles and doubles events with an abdominal injury. Jay Clarke was also forced to pull out of the doubles event over a troubling leg injury. It is hoped that Clarke will continue to play in the singles event.
“Team College” of Ryan Peniston (former University of Memphis player) and Dom Inglot (former University of Virginia player) took on “Team Fearhands” in Edmund and Ward.
Edmund and Ward, who had faced each other in singles earlier, completed their day with a 7-5 6-3 victory.
Ryan Peniston will replace Jack Draper in the Greg Rusedski singles group too, meaning he will face Cameron Norrie in tomorrow’s third match on court.
Order of play: Wednesday 24th June
Match 1: Salisbury/O’Mara vs Peniston/Inglot
Match 2: Ward vs Broady
Match 3: Norrie vs Peniston
Match 4: Edmund vs Murray
Match 5: Broady/Norrie vs Evans/Glasspool
Andy Murray tops the Tim Henman group, with Edmund following behind in second. The winner of their match anticipated group match tomorrow will be in pole position. James Ward lies in third place while Broady sits in fourth after the heavy defeat to Murray.
Dan Evans leads the group with his 12/4 win-loss game percentage. Jay Clarke remains in second position as Norrie and Peniston are yet to play their first singles match.
More analyses to come right here on Lob and Smash following the conclusion of day 2 at the Battle of the Brits.