By Ros Satar
James Ward [GBR] def. Dmitry Tursunov [RUS] 6-4, 5-7, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4
(April 7, 2013) COVENTRY, England – After facing the press on Friday in utter desolation, British No. 2, James Ward, rallied against a sometimes agitated Tursunov to bring GB level with Russia.
After starting so impressively against Evgeny Donskoy, only to lose in five sets from being two sets and a break up, there was a lot of pressure on Ward’s thin shoulders.
If any nerves were evident on Ward’s side, he hid them well, banging down two aces a-piece, as the first five games went with serve.
The first sign of frailty appeared on Tursunov’s serve, taken to deuce twice in successive serves.
It paid off for Ward as he needed just one break point to edge ahead 5-4, before topping off the first set with a hold to love.
The games were going tightly with serve in the second set.
At times Tursunov seemed just a little slow and Ward struggled to get into Tursunov’s service games, letting two break points go, at 5-5.
It was Ward’s turn for fraying nerves, starting with a double fault, while serving to stay in the set, and ending with a netted cross-court forehand to hand Russia the second set 7-5.
British hopes were raised with an early break in the first game of the third set, only for Tursunov to break straight back.
A stream of errors from Ward gave Tursunov a second break in the third set, to leave Ward coming out to stay in the set at 2-5.
Ward was rewarded for his tenacity by breaking Tursunov in the next game to put himself back on serve.
Despite that, Ward found himself having to save break points on his next two serves.
Tursunov turned up the pace, aided and abetted with another error-strewn game by Ward, to take the third set 7-5.
Ward started the brighter in the fourth set breaking early, and Tursunov picked up a code violation as he started to get annoyed with the crowd.
Ward just needed the one set point as Tursunov netted forehand return to even the match and take the rubber into a deciding set.
Ward got a break to lead 3-2, courtesy of a Tursunov double fault on break point, after a long rally where the Russian sent a forehand flying long.
Just keeping his nose ahead, the Brit was only taken to deuce once on his serve, before coming out to serve for the match at 5-4.
To the watching crowd’s delight, Ward held his final serve to 15, finishing with an ace to go from zero to hero.
Ward said: “It would have been very tough to take 2 5-set losses in a weekend.
“If anything it’s even more pleasing beating Tursunov, who I’ve lost to twice in the past”
Team captain, Leon Smith had been reiterating the same advice, to serve out wide to the Russian unless he started to read the serve.
And Ward was happy to acknowledge the captain’s belief in him.
He said: “I’m grateful to him for the opportunity to play again and show heart and desire and everything that he wanted this weekend, and I think I showed it.”
Ros Satar is a British Journalist- an IT journalist by day, and a sports journalist in all the gaps in between. She is the co-founder of Britwatch Sports (britwatchsports.com). Follow her on twitter at @rfsatar.