RENNES, FRANCE – James Ward entered the Challenger event in Rennes and was unseeded. The Brit took out two seeds en route to the final.
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Brit of the Week
James Ward entered the ATP Challenger event in Rennes. The Brit was not seeded, and needed a good run to stop a drop down the rankings. In the first round Ward took on Benjamin Bonzi. The Frenchman got off to an early start and broke Ward. In the second tournament of the year for Ward, the Brit needed to fight back after losing the first set.
Ward did just that, in the second set the Brit forced Bonzi into a tiebreak. The Brit edged the breaker and the match was level. The final set was very close, with the Brit breaking right at the end of the set to move into the next round 3-6, 7-6(6), 7-5.
The second round saw Ward against the 14th seed Pavel Kotov. The Russian had a bye in the first round which gave the Brit the advantage of match play. Ward broke the seed and took the lead in the match. In the second set the Russian stayed toe to toe with Ward and forced a tiebreak. Kotov edged the breaker and the match was level. In the final set the Brit once again got a break on the seed and held serve to take the win 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-3.
In the third round the Brit was against Corentin Denolly. The Frenchman had the crowd behind him, however Ward secured the break of serve in both sets. Denolly was unable to break back and could not get back into the match. The Brit moved into the quarter-final in straight sets 6-4, 6-3.
The quarter-final saw Ward facing Kyrian Jacquet. The Frenchman stayed with the Brit for most of the first set, however it was the Brit who secured the break of serve necessary to move into the lead. Jacquet re-grouped in the second set and broke Ward to level up. In the final set Ward was able to break the Frenchman early in the set and move into the semi-final 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.
In the semi-final Ward faced his toughest player to date, at least on paper. The third seed Danilo Petrović. The Serbian fought hard but the Brit stood firm. Forcing tiebreaks in both sets it was Ward who edged the first, and eased the second to move into the final 7-6(7), 7-6(4).
The final saw the Brit against another French player Arthur Rinderknech. The crowd was partisan and for the home player. Ward stayed with Rinderknech in the first set, but dropped serve right at the end. Trying to come back the Brit was broken at the start of the second, and although held serve from there on in it was a step too far this week. However, the Brit will take confidence from the run here, losing in the final 7-5, 6-4.
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