James Ward in the Loughborough Challenger, 2018
James Ward in the Loughborough Challenger, 2018 | (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images for LTA)

James Ward makes final in Jinan

By Glenys Furness

  • James Ward made second challenger final of the year
  • Continuing his comeback with good weeks in China
JINAN, CHINA – James Ward made his second challenger final of the year, continuing his comeback from injury with a good couple of weeks in Asia.


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Brit of the Week

James Ward entered the Jinan Challenger coming off the back of a semi-final placement in Chengdu where he was defeated by the top seed. In the first round Ward was up against wild card He Yecong. The Chinese got off to a flying start and broke the Brit twice to take the first set.

The second set was much tighter as the Brit fought hard in the second set. Keeping toe to toe with Yecong, the Brit managed to get the break right at the end to level the match. This seemed to break the spirit of the Chinese wild card as Ward dominated the final set to book his place in the second round 2-6, 7-5, 6-1.

In the second round Ward was up against Arjun Kadhe. The Indian kept on terms with the Brit for the first few games. Ward managed to break serve and hold on for the set. Just like in the first round Ward totally dominated the second set and claimed the match in straight sets 6-3, 6-1.

The quarter-final saw the Brit face Lee Duck-Hee, the South Korean got the jump on Ward in the first set and came out firing. Breaking Ward the South Korean secured the first set. The Brit however was not done and re-grouped, getting the break needed right at the end of the second set. The final set was again fairly close, however Ward broke Duck-Hee to seal the spot in the semi-final 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.

In the semi-final Ward was up against Xia Zihao. The Chinese had entered the tournament with a wildcard and to reach the semi-final had been impressive. The Brit was the only direct entrant left by the semi-final stage. Zihao had nothing to hurt Ward with, and the Brit dominated both sets to claim the spot in the final 6-2, 6-1.

The final saw the Brit against the qualifier Alexei Popyrin. The Australian was broken straight away by Ward who jumped out to a 3-0 lead. This was the start needed and the Brit took the first set. The second set saw Popyrin dominate and the Brit could only get one game on the board. In the deciding set the pair exchanged breaks keeping level until right at the end when the Australian managed to grab a break again and hold on for the match 3-6, 6-1, 7-5.


Honourable Mention

Jonathan Gray entered the ITF event in Minsk and was seeded fourth. The Brit was drawn against Alberto Bronzetti in the first round. The Italian was no match for Gray who lost only four games to seal the match in straight sets 6-3, 6-1.

In the second round, the fourth seed was against Fernando Yamacita. The Brazilian was unable to stay with Gray in the first set, as the seed took control and broke twice to take the first set. The second was closer as Yamacita managed to hold serve, however Gray secured the break needed and moved into the quarter-final in straight sets 6-2, 6-4.

The quarter-final saw Gray face the seventh seed Anıl Yüksel. The Turk proved a tricky opponent in the first set staying with the Brit. Gray finally managed to break the serve of the seventh seed and take the lead. The second set was much easier for Gray who obtained the break earlier and moved in the semi-final in straight sets 7-5, 6-3.

In the semi-final the Brit was against the second seed Sergey Betov. The Belarusian got off to the better start and broke Gray twice in the first set and held the lead. The Brit fought back in the second set and managed to break Betov to level the match. The final set saw the Brit hold his nerve and again break the second seed to book a place in the final 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

The final saw Gray up against the third seed Jurabek Karimov. The Uzbekistani was just too much for the Brit and took the match in straight sets despite the best effort of Gray. Karimov only needed one break of serve each set to win the trophy 6-4, 6-4.




Challenger & ITF Round Up

Ryan Storrie was defeated by Ivan Liutarevich in the second round of Minsk 7-6(0), 4-6, 7-5.

Jay Clarke was defeated by Liam Broady in the second round of Aptos 7-6(3), 6-4.

Liam Broady was defeated by Lloyd Harris in the quarter-final of Aptos 6-2, 6-2.

Alex Ward was defeated by Chris Eubanks in the first round of Aptos 6-3, 6-4.

Finn Bass was defeated by Ronnie Schneider in the first round of Edwardsville 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Alexis Canter was defeated by Miguel Semedo in the first round of Portugal 7-5, 6-0.

Alexander Jhun was defeated by Fred Gil in the first round of Portugal 6-4, 6-1.

Mark Whitehouse was defeated by Guilherme Osorio in the first round of Portugal 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-4.

Aidan McHugh was defeated by Gil in the second round of Portugal 6-4, 6-4.

Ewan Moore was defeated by Lukas Klein in the first round of Slovakia 6-3, 6-1.

Hamish Stewart was defeated by Jack Draper in the first round of Slovakia 6-3, 7-5.

Samm Butler was defeated by Petr Nouza in the quarter-final of Slovakia 6-3, 6-2.

Draper was defeated by Alex Molcan in the semi-final of Slovkia 6-2, 1-0 RET.

Paul Jubb retired in the semi-final against Nouza in Slovakia

Joel Cannell was defeated by Samuel Shropshire in the first round in Spain 6-4, 6-1.

Evan Hoyt was defeated by Mick Lescure in the quarter-final of Spain 6-2, 6-2.

George Loffhagen was defeated by Patrik Niklas-Salminen in the quarter-final of Finland 7-6(7), 1-6, 6-2.

Heather Watson was defeated by Ann Li in the first round of Landisville 6-1, 7-6(7).

Naomi Broady was defeated by Kristie Ahn in the first round of Landisville 6-2, 7-6(4).

Gabriella Taylor was defeated by Madison Brengle in the second round of Landisville 4-6, 6-3 RET.

Katie Swan retired in the second round against Ahn in Landisville.

Samantha Murray was defeated by Valentini Grammatikopoulou in the semi-final of Chiswick    6-2, 2-6, 6-2 .

Next week Brits play in Cincinnati, Vancouver, USA, Portugal, Belarus, Spain, Holland & Korea.


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