British Tennis: Thriving not just Surviving

Great British tennis is in possibly the best position it has been since the days of Fred Perry. The Davis Cup win this year over Belgium was an achievement that has drawn attention to state of the tennis.

Other than of course the hero and messiah of British tennis, Andy Murray there are three other men that are fighting fit for the country at singles level.

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Andy Murray kisses the Wimbledon trophy after beating Novak Djokovic

Here are the three in numbers:

Kyle Edmund
Age: 20
Best Grand Slam Finish: French Open 2nd Round (2015)
World Ranking: 102

James Ward
Age: 28
Best Grand Slam Finish: Wimbledon 3rd Round (2015)
World Ranking: 155

Dan Evans
Age: 25
Best Grand Slam Finish: US Open 3rd Round (2013)
World Ranking: 185

KYLE EDMUND
Kyle Edmund and James Ward both competed in the Davis Cup final and Dan Evans competed in the semi-final and was still awarded a medal after the resounding 3-1 win.

Kyle Edmund’s young career has started brightly after having been dubbed the ‘golden boy’ of Great Britain following his junior Grand Slam wins in the USA and France a few years ago.

His most recent title that is before winning the Davis Cup was the Copa Fila in November. Edmund’s performance in that tournament as he beat Berlocq gained him the final place in the Davis Cup team over Daniel Evans.

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Kyle Edmund

The British number three has been given a place in the upcoming Australian Open which starts next month following the withdrawal of Gasquet.

His Davis Cup performance in itself was a superb achievement, the fact he took two sets off Belgian number one Goffin before he ran out of steam was a wonderfully powerful display.

The Australian Open is a big chance for the young British star to prove himself on the big stage. The Grand Slam tournaments are a massive step up even from a Davis Cup final.

JAMES WARD
The 28 year old British number four had a good 2015 with two big wins over marathon match winner John Isner. This included a first round Davis Cup win.

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James Ward

With James Ward also managing to qualify for all but one of the Grand Slams in 2015 says a great deal about the player he is. The French Open which he missed out on he qualified for in 2014 for the first time.

James Ward had a wonderful Wimbledon campaign and he opened the tournament well advancing to the third round for the first time in his career.

Vasek Pospisil was his opponent and the Canadian number two was made to work for his victory in a five set epic, Pospisil advanced all the way to the quarter-final.

DAN EVANS
The British number five although not a feature of the Davis Cup final team was a vital part of the previous rounds with a huge win in the semi-final.

Evans is a powerful player and offers a lot with his right handed forehand being a really potent weapon. His 2013 appearance in the 3rd round of a Grand Slam looked promising. Now though it looks as though that may have been false hope but the 25 year old is still progressing.

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Dan Evans

His win in Knoxville was not quite enough to usurp either Edmund or Ward to play in the final but he still produced a quite sublime tournament in the United States which will aid his development.

With Wimbledon just over six months away it looks like British tennis is in a very good place, especially on the men’s side.

British Men’s Rankings (Top 5)

  1. Andy Murray
  2. Aljaž Bedene
  3. Kyle Edmund
  4. James Ward
  5. Dan Evans
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What’s Wrong With Rafa?

On Sunday the French Open came to an epic conclusion as Swiss player Stanislas Wawrinka defeated the undisputed form player this season Serb Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros. Paris had previously been a stronghold for the supposed ‘King of Clay’ Rafael Nadal.

Wawrinka after his French Open win.

Wawrinka after his French Open win.

The Spaniard has recently suffered a dip in form which has seen the 9 times French Open champion slip to 10th in the world rankings. This year Nadal suffered shock quarter-final defeats in both Paris and Rome following his loss to Andy Murray in Madrid. This is the lowest ranking Nadal has slumped to since 2005 although Nadal has failed to progress well in grass in recent years suffering shock defeats at Wimbledon over the past couple of seasons.

Nadal’s only win this year came in Argentina as he beat Juan Monaco in the final in Buenos Aires a tournament that failed to feature any other top level player. The Spanish former number 1 (now behind David Ferrer) has failed to find the form that he was blessed with from 2008 to 2010 in which time he won the French Open twice, Wimbledon twice, the US Open once, the Australia Open once, the ATP Tour World Finals once and bagged himself a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, with Nadal having only won at one Grand Slam event since that period it seems his grasp on the top four may be slipping.

Rafa Nadal in action against Novak Djokovic in the French Open.

Rafa Nadal in action against Novak Djokovic in the French Open.

Wawrinka may take Nadal’s place in the top 4 which over a number of years has been a fairly forgone conclusion with Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal dominating men’s tennis. But this recent surge from Wawrinka who is at the moment occupying 4th may threaten the Spaniard’s top 4 status which has been a key feature if the ATP tour since his first Grand Slam win in 2005 at Roland Garros.

Wawrinka seems to have broken into that exclusive party which held the top 4 which have for years been untouchable and been winning everything worth winning from the Grand Slams to the Olympic Games the top 4 have had their names carved into history as they dispatched of all opponents. The 2014 Australian Open changed all that as Wawrinka stormed to victory and his recent win in Paris will have only backed up the idea that Wawrinka is developing into a player of that top 4 calibre and with Wimbledon on the horizon this year could be the year we see both the demise of Spain’s great Nadal and the Swiss rising of Wawrinka.

Nadal leaves the court after his quarter-final loss to Djokovic in Paris.

Nadal leaves the court after his quarter-final loss to Djokovic in Paris.

With this in mind Wimbledon could well show us which players will dominate the courts around the globe for the foreseeable future and if we will ever again see Nadal lift a trophy at a major championship.

Current Men’s Rankings:
1st Novak Djokovic, Serbia
2nd Roger Federer, Switzerland
3rd Andy Murray, Great Britain
4th Stanislas Wawrinka, Switzerland
5th Kei Nishikori, Japan
6th Tomas Berdych, Czech Republic
7th David Ferrer, Spain
8th Miles Raonic, Canada
9th Marin Cilic, Croatia
10th Rafael Nadal, Spain