James Ward‘s return to the Queens tournament will feel like a breath of fresh air for many of the British tennis fans. A niggling long-term knee problem and a desire to live more of a ‘normal life’ has led to Ward playing virtually no competitive tennis in the first half of the 2017 season.
Ward has bright memories here at Queens. He went as far as the semi-finals in 2011, where he beat the defending champion Sam Querreyen route to the final four.
The British Wildcard, who is now ranked No.1062 in the world, really fell dramatically in the rankings following the news of the death of long-time coach Darren Tandy. Now Ward’s mindset will be totally focused on making the most of the second half of his career and giving it one last shot.
His opponent in the first round of Queens is Julien Beneneteau. The Frenchman knows his way around a grass court. He has unbelievable volleying skills and comes forward with regularity. Benneteau’s results have picked up on the grass. He started off with a quarter-final showing at s-Hertogenbosch where he beat a great grass court player, and defending champion, Nicolas Mahut, along the way.
Realistically you have to feel that this match has appeared way too early for Ward in his journey back to some form of normality in the tennis world, but you could argue Ward has achieved some great results in Davis Cup, Queens and at Wimbledon with the inspiration of a home crowd. The thought of James Ward making a serious return to the game is fantastic. Maybe he can use the rise of Dan Evans and Kyle Edmund as an incentive to get into the World’s Top 90 once again, just like he did in 2015.
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