The British are coming… Cam Norrie, Jo Konta and Dan Evans make it three seeds in the Wimbledon singles draws for the first time in 43 YEARS
- Roger Federer will practice with Dan Evans as he prepares for Wimbledon
- Cam Norrie pulled out of Eastbourne after reaching the final at Queen’s club
- Kyle Edmund is hoping for a full return to fitness ahead of the US Open
- Heather Watson says she’s in good form ahead of her match with Iga Swiatek
Roger Federer arrives in the UK on Tuesday and his first port of call will be a hitting session with Dan Evans at Wimbledon.
The 39-year-old has been practising on a private grass court close to Zurich’s lake, owned by his friend Jorge Paulo Lemann, the Swiss-Brazilian billionaire businessman and former Davis Cup player.
Federer’s choice of the British No 1 as his first sparring partner says a lot about the risen fortunes of Evans, but also comes after a week of rare encouragement for the nation which hosts Wimbledon.
Roger Federer will begin his Wimbledon preparations by practising with British No 1 Dan Evans
Cam Norrie reaching the final at Queen’s means that, for the first time since 1978, there will be three home singles players officially seeded at Wimbledon.
For Buster Mottram, Virginia Wade and Sue Barker read Norrie, Evans and Jo Konta.
There are a few caveats here, notably that the number of seeds is now double, at 32, and that Konta is fortunate the rankings are still in a semi-frozen state until early August, due to Covid. Also, one good week on grass does not necessarily reflect what happens on other surfaces for the rest of the year.
Nonetheless, there is a frisson of optimism after Queen’s and not just because Andy Murray was able to get on court and acquit himself reasonably well.
British trio Jo Konta, Cam Norrie and Dan Evans (pictured) will all be seeded at Wimbledon
Anything Murray does from here is a bonus but, even without him, there are the makings of a decent GB Davis Cup squad in the next few years.
Norrie has been a revelation this year while Evans is carrying on his good work. Most encouraging was the sudden progress of gifted 19-year-old Jack Draper, and the way he relished putting away the world’s best teenager Jannik Sinner and the highly talented Alexander Bublik. Then you have Kyle Edmund, almost the forgotten man. Edmund, an Australian Open semi-finalist in 2018, spent a year searching for the cause of nagging knee problems, a journey which ultimately led him to Switzerland and those who treated Federer and Stan Wawrinka.
Following minor surgery, he is now hopeful of a full return to fitness before the US Open and, once back, he ought to regain top-50 status on past form.
There are no shortage of good doubles players, albeit a less competitive arena, with permutations from three top-30 specialists to choose from in Joe Salisbury, Neal Skupski and Jamie Murray. From a younger age group, at the Nottingham Challenger, there were a sprinkling of decent wins for Glasgow’s Aidan McHugh and the Kent duo Anton Matusevich and Emma Raducanu.
Kyle Edmund has been plagued by injury problems but is hoping to be fit for the US Open
All this should not be taken as evidence of some systemic surge conjured up by the Lawn Tennis Association.
They are more a collection of mavericks rather than a production line, and domestic tournament directors have not been spoiled for choice in the annual bounty of wildcard handouts.
Problems remain deep-seated, such as the LTA’s doomed academy programmes in Stirling and Loughborough, with the former already beset with issues. The women’s side is concerning, especially as Konta — who has not played since winning the Viking Open at Nottingham — has turned 30 and is wrestling with long-term knee trouble.
Katie Boulter, 24, one of the few with top-50 potential, has an elbow injury meaning that Heather Watson, 29, might carry slender hopes of any home run at SW19. Sadly, Laura Robson, once so promising, is all but retired due to her hip condition.
Heather Watson says she’s in good form heading into her match with Iga Swiatek
Watson reached the semi-finals in Birmingham last week and is drawn to play 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek at Eastbourne, where rain wiped out yesterday’s programme.
The British No 2 was buoyed by her week in Birmingham.
‘I didn’t have any confidence going into the tournament,’ she said. ‘From how I felt before to how I feel now is like two completely different people.
‘I felt I played some of my best tennis and I have been serving amazingly.’
Cam Norrie lifts the Queen’s club runner up trophy after losing in the final on Sunday
Norrie pulled out of Eastbourne on Monday after reaching the Queen’s final and the third round of Roland Garros, as a stop-start week looms for those on the south coast.
Rain also stymied the first round of Wimbledon qualifying at Roehampton, where Matusevich might be the best hope of any Brit coming through.
The 20-year-old, academically blessed, is combining tennis with an online economics degree at University College London.
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