Tennis: Ward bows out after Wimbledon epic

James Ward in action against Nikoloz Basilashvili on day two of the Wimbledon Championships at the A

James Ward in action against Nikoloz Basilashvili on day two of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

It was a case of so near but so far for Camden Town’s James Ward at Wimbledon as the British wildcard exited after an epic five-set encounter with Nikoloz Basilashvili.

The 32-year-old Ward is trying to rebuild his career after knee surgery and has shown good form in recent months, but a heartbreaker of a first round match at SW19 saw him go down 6-2 6-4 4-6 4-6 6-8.

Making his first Wimbledon outing since 2017 and having reached the third round in 2015, Ward will now focus on the doubles after his exit.

"8-6 in the fifth is never an easy one," said Ward.

"It's no fun being on the wrong end of it.

"But obviously I started playing really well. He made a lot of mistakes. Then it turned a little bit in the third. He started serving better, making a lot of shots.

"It's difficult playing someone like that when they give you no rhythm, they go for everything. When they all start going in, it becomes tough to deal with.

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"It was just a good fight at the end. It could have gone either way in that fifth set when I broke back, when he served for the match the first time."

Ward was always up against it with a tough draw in the first round against Georgian Basilashvili, who was seeded 18th.

The British player is ranked 195 in the world and only in the first round on a wildcard, but was pleased with an improvement on going out in qualifying 12 months ago.

He added: "I'm playing doubles here. I have no idea when that will be but we'll see how it goes. Then after Wimbledon I head to the States in the lead up to US Open qualifiers there.

"I've been playing really well the last few weeks. That gives me confidence to beat top players.

"I've just got to take belief from that and realise that I'm not too far away. But, yeah, one at a time. We'll see what happens."

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