Two days in to the Australian Open #Tennis Grand Slam tournament and already Britain is waking up to the news that only Andy Murray is now left in the singles' events. It has become an all too familiar (and disappointing) occurrence in the last ten years or so, as another false dawn for British tennis comes and goes all too quickly. There were first round exits for Heather Watson, James Ward and Kyle Edmund in Melbourne today.
After all the optimism of Heather Watson's second WTA title last week in the Hobart International Down Under, her opponent in the first round here ranked number 52 in the world was not expected to provide her with too many problems. However, the Guernsey woman was struggling with illness and she faded badly against the Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova, crashing out of the tournament at the first hurdle 6-4 6-0. Watson called for the doctor at one point during the match as she clearly began to struggle physically on court. At the post match interview she claimed that she didn't seem to have any energy during the match, stating that: "Against any player it's tough enough when you're fit, let alone when you're not."
James Ward was always expected to have a tough match after drawing the classy Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in his first round game, but at least he demonstrated some resistance before going down in four sets. After raising hopes of a surprise victory over the left-handed 31st seed by taking the first set 6-2, the British number two was 'bagelled' in the second 6-0. He rallied in the third before losing out in a close tie-break 8-6 and the expected defeat was confirmed when Verdasco clinched the fourth set 6-3. It was no disgrace to lose to a former top ten player (in 2009) who has previously reached the semi-finals at Melbourne, but Ward will surely feel that an opportunity may have passed him by after taking the first set and coming so close in what was clearly the decisive third set.The other member of the British trio that crashed out was the youngster Kyle Edmund, who despite playing solidly fell to the experienced American Steve Johnson. Edmund will have been pleased to reach the first round after surviving three rounds of qualifying, but did not seriously stretch a player ranked more than 150 places above him in the rankings. For Johnson there was relief to finally win a match in Melbourne, after crashing out himself in the first round for the previous two years. The final result was 6-4 6-4 6-3 to the higher ranked player.