27 July - 2 August 2020

St. James's Place Battle of the Brits Team Tennis

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St James's Place Battle of the Brits Team Tennis match updates

  • 02/08/2020

  • Major Events

Highlights

  • Union Jacks fight back to level scores at 45-45 with Bulldogs at start of final day
  • 29 points on offer on final day
  • Raducanu sees off Naomi Broady for Bulldogs lead
  • Dart defeats Burrage 6-4, 7-6 for three precious points
  • Evans hits back for Jacks with win over McHugh
  • A Murray / N Broady defeat K Edmund / E Raducanu in must-win match for Jacks
  • J Salisbury / H Dart win in straight sets for overall Bulldogs victory
  • Bulldogs defeat Union Jacks 63-56 after 7 days of tennis
  • Watch all the matches live on YouTube

Day 7

Bulldogs finish with bite as they the Union Jacks unfurl at the end

It all came down to the final match – with the Union Jacks just two points behind and five points up for grabs.

Certainly, at the start Jamie Murray and Heather Watson looked the sharper pairing, threatening the serve of Joe Salisbury and Harriet Dart from the start, but not able to get over the line in three tries. Salisbury, who a couple of days ago had hurt his lower back and was perhaps a little unsure of whether he could close of the week, looked a lot less tentative as he and Dart capitalised on just a single break point to take an advantage. They squandered two set pints before finally taking a third on receiver’s choice to be one set away from victory.

Where Salisbury had looked a little delicate on his serve, and Dart maybe a little jaded, the Bulldogs were bouncing around all over the court as they swiftly jumped out to a 4-0 lead.

Getting a game on the board and gamely saying to Murray ‘never say die’ it was now or never for the Jacks to get one of the two breaks back. Against all odds, they grabbed one, but could not hold on to their own serve to regain a foothold in the match.

The end, when it came, was swift with Salisbury and Dart clinching it on their first match point 6-4 6-2.

At the start of the tournament, Salisbury and Dart came from 2-8 down in the breaker to defeat Murray and Watson, and so to do it again was a fitting way to bookend the tournament for the Bulldogs, who sunk their teeth into the competition!

Salisbury said: “I can't believe after all this tennis that we've had this week that it came down to the last match of the week. It was so much fun. The mixed doubles have been great all week. Everybody on the bench has been getting so into it, the support's been amazing, so it was a great finish to the week.

Dart added: “I think just on Monday we improved on a lot of things today and just happy with the performance and to go out with a win is just incredible. great atmosphere and our team is amazing. Just so happy right now.”

The winning captains had self-styed themselves as underdogs, but really, had been in command from the start.

Anne Keothavong said: "The whole week, every day has been a lot of fun. A lot of tennis, a lot of tired people but it's all been worthwhile.”

Leon Smith concluded: "It's definitely another occasion that's brought everyone together. There's a really good feeling. There's very good camaraderie across all of British tennis which is really important."

Murray and Broady set up a thrilling conclusion – winner will take all

This was a must win for the Union Jacks, and the flags’ hearts will have been fluttering as Kyle Edmund and Emma Raducanu broke straight away. Andy Murray and Naomi Broady had to reel off three games on the spin to get themselves back on serve, and in that time, Murray and Broady seemed to settle down into the partnership, rewarded with a break before grabbing the first set.

Raducanu had already faced the Broady serve, and the depth and pace of her groundstrokes and on the doubles court, she has a little more surety. Edmund might have been at the net, but is not a natural poacher, and Murray at the net prove to be far sharper when it came to finish.

This time it was Murray and Broady who started the set with a break and held on to consolidate. That did not stop the combination of Raducanu and Edmund containing to club ground-strokes back and forth eventually earning themselves a couple of chances to break back crucially at the end of the second set. Broady teed off a backhand down the line with all the time in the world, to save them.

With Murray serving for four points, and the atmosphere predictably boisterous made for a nervy affair, thanks to potent forehands fired across the bows by Edmund, breaking the Murray serve as Broady wobbled slightly.

The Bulldogs wrestled the momentum back as Murray and Broady put in a loose game to find themselves now having to serve to stay in the set, and into the resulting tie-beak despite some very nervous serving from Broady.

Mind you when it came to nerves, no-one would have expected Murray’s arm to get tight on match-points, but a bizarre back-spin volley set up the win, 6-3 7-6(5).

Broady explained: “Just complete luck at the end. When Kyle's at the back it's so intimidating because his forehand is so big, so I was trying to debate if I should just stand still and brace myself or if I should try and move (laughing).”

Murray added: “I feel like we deserved to win that match. We played better, we had the chance to close it out but didn't get it. It was a good one to get through and it's brilliant it's come down to the last match.

“I don't know, it felt like that was going to happen today, so it's good that it's going to be the last one and hopefully we can get through.”

Evans keeps the door ajar for Jacks

While Dan Evans might get the award for most vocal member of the team on the bench, his results this week have been a contrast to his outing at the first Battle of the Brits.

Beaten twice by Cameron Norrie, one by Kyle Edmund, the Jacks will have thought this would be a nailed-on win for them against Aiden McHugh – talented but by no means as much experience as Evans. However, the youngster was going toe-to-toe with the unusually subdued Evans who couldn’t make his breakthrough, before finding himself deflecting two break points on his own serve.

Evans made his move at the end of the first set breaking and then finally converting on a third set point.

The self-geeing-up for Evans seemed to work for him as he stormed out to a 4-0 lead in the second set. While McHugh toiled to at least get into the set, it was too much to overhaul a far more experienced Evans who at least put the Union Jacks back in contention, with a 7-5 6-2 win, but needing both mixed doubles to win. 

Dart puts the Bulldogs a win away from victory

Earlier in the week a despondent Harriet Dart made her return to singles tennis for the first time since March, and came up against the in-form Jodie Burrage, being edged out in a match tie-break.

With this match a must-win as far as the Union Jacks were concerned, Burrage, who has been consistent for the Jacks throughout the tournament may have come across one tournament too many.

Looking fatigued at times, Dart was constantly pressing, succeeding in a break-through, albeit with Burrage striking back immediately.

But Dart made it count breaking Burrage one more time, to get the first set in the bag.

With it being dangerous times now for the Union Jacks, Burrage had tried to be patient, again having chances to advance, and each time thwarted by Dart.

Burrage had been creating so many chances in his set and was finally rewarded with a break and starting to step back up a gear. Dart was not finished yet, Breaking Burrage as she served for the second set. Having looked the more assured in the second set, Burrage found herself serving to stay in the second set.

Into a tie-break for the second set, the momentum swung from side to side, for Dart to edge Burrage 6-4 7-6(5).

Dart said, after the match: “There was very little in it. Just probably a bit of my experience. I think after that one singles match under my belt before against Jodie definitely helped me. I'm just happy to get through this week feeling good about my body and stuff. I've struggled a lot in the past with injuries, so this week has really just been a stepping stone to try and get me ready, back for the tour.”

 

 

Watson steps on the Bulldogs’ paws to stop the run of points

With a run of wins for the Bulldogs, the Union Jacks needed to claim a clutch of points in short order. Step forward one Heather Watson. After a slow and rusty start against Beth Grey at the start of the tournament from the second match, Watson found her groove, and delivered another commanding performance again, and saving the Union Jack’s blushes along the way,

Beth Grey has been a tricky player from the start – fearless with a free swing and has proved to be most effective in her doubles pairing with an equally aggressive player in Harriet Dart, not to mention a mixed doubles win to her name too.

Watson’s play was as clean as it has been all week, striking the ball well, moving well and being clinical on the big points, delivering much needed points for the Jacks to stay in contention with a 6-0 6-2 win.

It is worth remembering that Watson had to come down from that epic 17-15 match tie-break – so how do you recover from such an adrenaline rush?

She said: “That was so epic. When I got home, I had 10 chicken wings (laughs) for a mental break just to like recharge and also that took a lot out of us, but so glad we got through that one.”

The Union Jacks will need results from the next two matches on court to edge ahead and take us into a thrilling race to the finish with the two mixed doubles.

Edmund clinical as he puts the Bulldogs within 5 points of triumph

Throughout the tournament, Jan Choinski has been quietly going about his business notching up a point here, a point there for the Union Jacks. On the other side of the net, Edmund has not only been infatuated with the furry Bulldog mascot, but has been a steady points-deliverer for the Bulldogs, and today was no exception.

Edmund looked to be playing within himself, breaking early in the first set and at the end to take the lead, and flexing a little more muscle to break twice in a row, and closing out an efficient win, 6-2 6-1.

All eyes for Edmund will be on the US, as he will be heading out to the scheduled tournaments.

He said, after his match: “I want to get on the road again obviously. The tournaments are scheduled. I hope that stays that way and we can play some competitive tennis. This week's been nice because it's the first time in a long time I've actually played some matches outdoors since Acapulco - that was my last tournament.

“This week's provided that and I've basically I feel like each day and each match I've slowly improved and that's been really good.  At the minute it's different conditions out in America of course but it's nice to just get on the match court.”

Edmund’s win puts the Bulldogs within 5 points of closing out the victory.

Broady: ‘This one’s for Leon’ as the Bulldogs are within 8 points of clinching the win

Liam Broady found himself locked in a battle of breaks with Ryan Peniston who, since he came into the first edition of the Battle of Brits, has impressed many with his work ethic and dogged determination.

Peniston went up an early break but a flurry of breaks further down the line set them bag on level pegging – all the way up to a first set tie-break.

It was all one-way traffic in the tie-break as Broady edged ahead, but such is the tenacity of Peniston, he could be counted on to continue to go toe-to-toe with Broady, with just one break in it to separate them in the second set.

The nemesis that has been the 10-point match tie-break at both Battle of the Brits events continued to loom large, with Broady jumping into a lead early lead. Peniston fought his way back to level terms and the momentum switched back and forth but tragically another Battle of the Brits match tiebreak eluded Peniston, with Broady triumphing 7-6(1) 36 12-10

Incidentally, he has won a match-tie-break since the restart, albeit part of the UK Pro Series. However more importantly, Broady’s win puts the Bulldogs within 8 points of clinching the Team Tennis title. 

After the match he said: “I was disappointed after my two singles performances with Jan. I didn't feel like I really showed up to the singles court. I was just really pumped to get out and try and make things right today. Thanks to Leon, he's had to put up with some pretty awful tennis from me this week so clutch that one, That one's for him.

“It's an ultra competitive environment but I think it's [brought] out the best in us and I can tell you now, I'm not going to be that nervous again for a long time. The pressure from the side of the court when you've got Sir Andy Murray and Dan Evans chirpsing (sic) you about how many forehands you've missed in the match, it's ... yeah I'm just glad I got through it (smiling).”

Leon Smith and Anne Keothavong laughingly called themselves the underdogs, but they have played a huge part in the Bulldogs’ dominance over the week.

“I wanted to repay them, because they'd been absolutely brilliant with everyone. Consoling us yesterday and they've had a smile on their face the whole week and Leon just kept me calm and clear-headed throughout the whole match. The success on the court this week - a massive part of it is down to them.”

Raducanu downs Broady as the Bulldogs hit a half-century

Naomi Broady went up against Emma Raducanu, who might be the youngest player in the mix this week but plays with a maturity beyond her years.

Broady has made good use of the time since the competition restarted to get some time in on the British Tour and UK Pro Series, but in recent times has slipped far behind her best World Ranking of No. 76. While Raducanu admitted that she has already had to manage potential injuries at a time when many of the lower ranked players have been packing in the matches, she still played a consistent level of tennis to book-end the first set with two breaks and give the Bulldogs a toothy edge.

Broady seemed to be always on the back foot, broken early in the second set and although she could peg the youngster back, Raducanu just played the bigger points better, breaking again for a commanding lead.

There were flashes from Broady with heavy and pin-point accurate ball-striking, and with her back against the wall we saw some of her best returning of the match so far, but Raducanu continued to impress, giving up such six games, 6-3 6-3.

After the match, she said: “I managed to hold most of my service games, which was going to be very important in this match, because Naomi's serve is absolutely massive.

“Very pleased about that and I'm most pleased about getting a win for the Bulldogs because the last few days I've lost a couple of tight matches but I'm just really pleased to have backed that up with a win for today when it really matters.”

Raducanu has thrived in this environment, starting well in the week but losing a couple of tough encounters too, so finishing her singles with a win was a great performance.

“This team event experience has been absolutely amazing. If it happened again, I'd be more than up for it because it's so much fun. It's just great to play alongside other team-mates who are supporting you, and they want you to win equally as much as you want yourself to win. It's just a really fun week.”

 

 

Matusevich brings Union Jacks back into contention

One of the best aspects of the Battle of the Brits Team Tennis has been having some of the up-coming younger Brits playing against the more experienced and established players, but also important was a chance for them to shine against each other. 

Anton Matusevich might have lost twice to Kyle Edmund, and to Liam Broady but he fought hard against Aiden McHugh, and had another chance to get a win on the board for the Jacks, against Alastair Gray.

A single break was enough for him to take the lead against Gray. An immediate break at the start and in the penultimate game perhaps made the score-line a little more flattering in what was a competitive match, 6-3 6-2.

After the match, Matusevich said: “After lockdown I was hitting with him pretty much every day but he's tricky. You just have to stay calm on the ball, don't rush, don't panic, don't think you have to hit a winner and that's what I did today. Usually I'm quite erratic and I like to go for big shots but really controlled today, worked the point well. I mean it's quite good in that I didn't really allow him to come to the net that much today which was nice. He's got good hands and I returned well as well. 

“I just did really everything pretty good today, so very happy with it (smiling).”

Matusevich is ranked World No. 561 but has been rubbing shoulders this week with former World No. 1s, current and former British No. 1s and has been benefitting from coaching from both Judy Murray and Greg Rusedski.

He continued: “It's awesome that I got to play as well because I'm one of the lower ranked players and to be able to play this tournament and given this opportunity is incredible.”

With equal points on offer in the next two matches, Jacks trail Bulldogs 47-48.

 

The Bulldogs take the first nip as Maia Lumsden puts them ahead

Maia Lumsden kept up her flawless record against Alicia Barnett in 2020 with another strong performance. 

Getting a double break meant the first bite was probably headed the Bulldogs’ way, although Barnett claimed one of the breaks back, she was broken for Lumsden to win the first set.

Barnett, who tried her hand at running a tournament herself when the Progress Tour Women’s Championships were held a few weeks ago found herself swiftly 0-3 down but rallied well to draw level.

Lumsden however just had enough left, despite the appearance once more of the compression sleeve on her arm at the end of this week, to edge out a last break before serving out to put the Bulldogs ahead, 6-3 6-3.

Lumsden who plays university tennis at Stirling, is no stranger to boisterous support, but the Battle of the Brits has taken it to a new level. 

She said: “I love it having the support, having people on the bench supporting you after each point. It’s quite strange because obviously people are against you as well, especially when you see some of the guys cheering for your opponents, obviously not normal (smiling), but it’s a great atmosphere. I love team competitions.”

 

Day 6

Jamie Murray: ‘It’s everything I wanted’ after Union Jacks complete a monumental come-back to draw level

As the match started with a break we had to wonder whether the Union Jacks would once more be the bridesmaid at the end of another long day, but Jamie Murray, reuniting with Heather Watson clapped back immediately with two breaks before coasting to the first set and rendering the Bulldogs to mere whimpers.

Harriet Dart has been impressive in her doubles, and it was time for Liam Broady, so very vocal on the bench to start walking the walk, and the leftie little brother of his usual mixed doubles partner Naomi started to turn the screw on Murray and Watson, as we went into another tense match tie-break.

Since breaking their nemesis of third setters on ‘moving day’, they still have been a nervy affair for the Union Jacks, and this was no exception as the first six points were all losses of serve. Broady and Dart were the first to hold and with a break got to the half-way mark ahead.

Nerves were jangling as Murray and Watson clawed their way back on level terms. Some excellent poaching from Liam Broady kept the pairs tied together. There has been no shortage of late evening drama in the final doubles of the day and this was no different as first Murray and Watson had a match-point, then Broady/Dart.

With the wind behind Watson on her serve, the ball just sailed a little long giving the Bulldogs another match point, but it a little bit of nifty poaching and tagging from Murray to reclaim their honour.

With Broady and Dart both broken, another match-point for the Murray on his own serve saw him beaten on the return. Murray and Watson could make good on their third match point - then again, neither could Broady and Dart.

On Murray’s racquet, on a fourth match point – a wide return earned the Union Jacks deliverance from the starting match tie-break 8-2 up to a loss cycle, made the scores all level, and sets the scene for truly a Super Sunday.

Jamie Murray said, after the match: “Proud that we're level pegging come Sunday. Guess we got the teams spot on I think. For me it's been a great week. It's everything that I wanted. I wanted players to come, compete hard, have a lot of fun and be ready to go play the tour when [the tournament] finishes and there's been a lot of chat going back and forth but I think pretty good-natured. great to see the younger ones come in and compete against the older players and we've got a great Sunday lined up.”

Andy Murray & Glasspool put the Union Jacks within touching distance of pegging the Bulldogs back

With five points up for grabs, Kyle Edmund and Joe Salisbury teamed up again to see if they a=could hand down a defeat to the other Murray brother as Andy Murray teamed up with Lloyd Glasspool once more.

Edmund, who has gone from strength to strength this week was on fire, and it has been especially pleasing to see his work in advancing to the net over both Battle of the Brits iterations, and was instrumental in getting an early break over the point-searching Jacks.

Just the slightest hint of tension on the Salisbury serve on set point but a Murray lob attempt went long to have the first set to the Bulldogs.

The energy levels just seemed to dip a bit for the Bulldogs, and definitely seemed to pick up for the Jacks, and they were rewarded with a break, consolidated comfortably by a more confident-seeming Glasspool to love, a they continued to coast through the second set.

Just as the action was heating up for the match tie-break, a light drizzle of rain started. Over the two Battle of the Brits, Glasspool has proved to be an accomplished doubles partner, helping the team on their way to a solid win in the third set, 4-6 6-3 10-4.

Bulldogs edge away with Grey and Dart, Rusedski and Jacks ‘unrelenting’

Once more the pattern of play ebbed and flowed at the Battle of the Brits Team Tennis, as the British Bulldogs edged clear once more with a decisive victory from Beth Grey and Harriet Dart over Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls.

Both Grey and Dart have been playing attacking tennis and scored a solid win over established doubles pairing Naomi Broady and Heather Watson earlier in the week – and they did it again over a current team in Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls.

Two breaks in the first set put them in the driving seat, and they virtually repeated the process in the second set for a comfortable win, and once more made for a tight finish to the day with the Union Jacks five points adrift and five points on the board to win on Day 6.

Union Jacks captain Greg Rusedski knows it is all to play for, speaking after the doubles: “We are unrelenting, We're here for the long haul. One thing - we're either going to lose or win as a team. We always have a full bench, and that's important and that might turn the tide for us. 

“These last two matches are huge, because if we can find a way to win them, we're all level going into Sunday. So, we're not thinking about Sunday like the other team, we're thinking about now.”

 

Burrage lifted to another Union Jacks win with support

Encounters between Jodie Burrage and Emma Raducanu this year have been a one-way affair in the direction of the 17-year-old, who has impressed throughout the week. Whereas Burrage got the better of the teen in their first meeting last year at the Bolton ITF tournament, but this year it has been a different story.

At the start it looked like one-way traffic once more for the teenager, as she swiftly leapt out to a lead, breaking Burrage at the start and end of the set for a commanding lead.

Burrage dug in impressively in the second and turned the tables on Raducanu to level the match.

With vocal support on her side, it was a hard-fought battle with min-breaks being traded before Burrage just started to pull away. 

With all he match-time since the restart, it was the experience she needed to just close out a great passage of play for the Union Jacks, with a 2-6 6-2 10-7 win… and another two points.

After the match, she said: I just wanted to improve my mentality. I put a lot of pressure on myself the first time we played and I was really happy to come out today even losing the first set, just stick so mentally tough, stay with her and then end up closing it out like that - yeah it just feels so good.

“Honestly, I probably wouldn't have won half the matches without this energy. It's really good to be a part of a team like that and yeah i think if we could just keep it going for the rest of today and tomorrow, it's going to be tight but hopefully we can get the win.

 

Norrie retires to hand Evans valuable Union Jack points

Sadly, for Cam Norrie, after having beaten British No. 1 Dan Evans twice on the bounce at this tournament, he had to retire from today’s match, after going 0-4 down. 

Ever the enthusiastic team-mate Evans dashed over to Court No. 1 to give his support to Jodie Burrage, locked in a match tie-break.

 

Steady-Eddy – Edmund claims more points for the Bulldogs

It was a case of ‘too good’ as Kyle Edmund has proved to be the steady-Eddy of the Bulldogs. With just one singles loss to his name, Edmund notched up his second win over Anton Matusevich this tournament, 6-2 6-1 and with it two more precious points.

Matusevich, like many of the younger players, has really enjoyed being around the more established players, even bringing up a couple of chances to break Edmund in the first set, before Edmund clamped down on such youthful impudence with two actual breaks for the first set.

The second set was decidedly more one sided, and perhaps a bit of a lesson for Matusevich, who could not find anyway to put Edmund under any pressure. Although it looked a brutal score-line, the youngster kept his head to get at least a game on the board in the second set, it was just too strong for the former British No.1.

Edmund has learned from his experiences at the first Battle of the Brits, at the beginning of the tennis restart in the UK.

He said: “I was playing really well in practice. I felt like I actually started really well and as the week went along, I didn't quite improve as much, I maintained a bit and then towards the end got a little bit not as explosive.

“I've found this week I've gone the other way. started a little bit more slowly and built it up, which is nice. It's such a difference [from] practicing and when you come out and play points it's such a different feel.”

Team-tennis veteran Choinski quietly clocks up another point for the Jacks

Jan Choinski has quietly been contributing to the Union Jacks come-back over the week, especially with two straight wins over Liam Broady and the higher ranked player handled Alastair Gray easily enough at the start. Although pegged back with his first break, Choinski surged ahead again at the end of the first set, closing out easily for the lead.

Gray, who had picked up one doubles win and two doubles losses, was on his first singles duty in this tournament, and in the second set he stayed toe-to-toe with the big-serving Choinski, before a cracking game at the end of the set to break to love.

Choinski simply put the pedal to the metal in the match tie-break, barely looking back from a 5-2 lead to sneak another little point for the Union Jacks, 6-4 4-6 10-4.

The German-born Brit is actually no stranger to team tennis, coming from Cologne where in the summer months, between tournaments, club matches draw in even some of the best players for their teams.

Choinski has now picked up three wins for the Jacks and was key at the start of their resurgence.

He explained: “Just trying to come out here and support my team is the first thing to do. And then the second thing is think about yourself. But in order to win this competition, you just have to win every point for your team” 

Birthday-girl Boulter goes back to basics to clinch two points for the Jacks

Two days to go, plenty of points on offer, and with the Union Jacks nipping at the paws of the British Bulldogs, there were three points on offer alone in the opening matches.

Katie Boulter, celebrating her birthday today, had yet to get any type of win on the board, having played two singles and two mixed doubles already in the week. She was up against Beth Grey who has proved to be a tricky customer at times with a tenacious brand of aggressive tennis.

Boulter had to work hard for the dominant start, persevering to her first break on a seventh break point and another arduous game to make it to a 5-0 lead. The games and been close, and Grey deflected a set point and a third successive break to get on the board.

The second set had the momentum firmly with Boulter once more with an immediate break, and although Grey got another game on the board, it was one-way traffic once more for Boulter, 6-1 6-1.

She had to work hard for it taking four match-points, but it was a valuable to points with everything to play for this weekend.

After the match, Boulter said: “I think I had a tough couple of days. I just wanted to come out and consolidate. I was happy with getting the win today and that's all I really wanted.

“I think I started well. I just tried to keep it in the court. The other matches I just swung a little bit more, so I just wanted to get back to basics, make the court and make her work for every single ball and I think that really helped me today.”

Day 5

‘Lucky’ Norrie gets past Peniston to get Bulldogs’ first points of the day

There was a lot to look forward to in the match-up between Ryan Peniston and Cameron Norrie. When Peniston stepped in as an injury replacement in the first edition of the Battle of the Brits, he gave the more experienced Cameron Norrie a moment of pause, taking the first set off the more established Brit before going on to lose the third set match tie-break.

Norrie was ably prepared, coming out aggressively to break in the first game but from that point on Peniston was sticking to him like glue. Peniston likes to take the ball on the rise, and that proved to work well against Kyle Edmund, but as the match progressed, experience tended to win through.

Peniston’s gritty approach earned him a break to level things up but Norrie just managed to edge him for a break at the end of the first set, serving out for the lead. Peniston’s reaction to an early break at the start of the second set was to strike right back with two breaks of his own, going on to level the match and set up another match tie-break.

Third set scenarios have not been a friend to Peniston in these tournaments in particular, but if there was ever a time to break that duck, it was now as he started out well over Norrie for a solid lead.

Norrie worked hard to claw back the deficit and with real pressure now coming from the Bulldog on the other side of the court, he began to wilt in the heat as Norrie took the lead in the tie-break for the first time.

Norrie set up match point with a perfect passing shot, and a tired looking error gave the Bulldogs some respite, 7-5 3-6 10-8.

Norrie felt he had dodged a bullet against one of Britain’s upcoming players: "I was playing great up a set and a break and he  started playing real aggressive, hit some winners and then broke back and then played an unreal second set and I just tried to hang with him.

"It was a physical match and all credit to Ryan. He's a great player and I think he deserved it today, but I was lucky to get through it."

Norrie continued: “He's taken a set off every player and just come short on a couple of third set breakers and all credit to him and he's definitely plays above his ranking and I think he's going to be very dangerous when the tour starts back and he can get playing again.”

Glasspool: ‘I partnered with the better brother today’ – Jacks come back strong, now just one point behind

With the gap closing between the Union Jacks and the British Bulldogs, tournament organiser Jamie Murray started his double-shift partnering Lloyd Glasspool against Dom Inglot and Alastair Gray. 

The pace was as blistering as the scorching conditions, with nothing between them as the first set was decided by a tie-break. Inglot and Gray have played well throughout the week, but Glasspool’s confidence in doubles has grown in both editions of the Battle of the Brits and was instrumental in sealing the tie-break for the Jacks.

It was equally efficient from Murray and Glasspool in the second set as the Jacks roared to a comprehensive win in two quite contrasting sets 7-6(5) 6-2. This win puts the Jacks now within a point of the Bulldogs.

Talking after the match, Glasspool spoke about the experience of playing with both Murray brothers in the space of two days.

"I partnered with the better brother today (laughing). It's been amazing to play with two of the world's best. Not many people in this world or country will get that chance to do that. Yeah, I'm just really grateful for the opportunity."

Now that the Jacks are making up ground, Murray confessed that it had been a worrying couple of days chasing the Bulldogs’ score.

“I mean I was worried after Wednesday because we thought we had the better line-up or better match-ups against them and then we went down pretty hard, so that was tough. There's been a lot of close matches through the week. None of them went for us. 

“Obviously yesterday we started to get a bit more momentum back on our side, get the score-board moving a bit. Be interesting over the weekend, I think.”

 

 

Burrage and Broady step up a gear as Union Jacks start with 3-point haul

Jodie Burrage’s third set match tie-break win on Thursday was the catalyst for a Union Jacks revival on Thursday, and she found herself front and centre once more to kick things off for the Jacks. Beth Grey has been equally impressive with wins in each discipline this week and a steady work ethic on court that has made her tough opposition.

Burrage, despite looking at times frustrated, was the first to get a break but such is Grey’s tenacity, she came right back at her. Grey plays a very aggressive game and battled hard to make Burrage work for the break, as the Union Jacks claimed the first set, but by no means easily.

The battle spurred Burrage on to a much more commanding run in the second set. Burrage, who has been playing consistently since tennis returned in the UK, showed that she should be looking to surpass her current ranking easily, given half a chance. 

She ripped through the second set, denying Grey any chance of getting on the board for an emphatic 7-5, 6-0 win.

She said, after the match: "I was a little slow at the start but once I got my game on court and started to pick where I was going to the ball and got my feet going a little bit better I'm glad I was able to close out that first set because [it] was [a] good level.

"The last few matches I haven't really had any pressure on me so I was glad I was able to take that pressure on my shoulders and get through the match."

 

Broady edges Silva for Union Jacks

Out on Court One, it was a nervy affair with pockets of breaks between Naomi Broady and Eden Silva, but Broady getting the only two holds in the set was enough to keep her ahead. Silva had to work hard at the start of the second set to go down early, and continued to find ways to stifle Broady’s attempts to edge ahead, and was rewarded for her resistance by her first break of the second set, breaking again at the end of the set to give the Bulldogs a fighting chance.

Broady had to respond strongly and came out swinging well at the start of the third set match tie-break, which predictably ebbed and flowed, but in arguably one of Broady’s best performances this week, it was another win for the Union Jacks, 6-2 4-6 10-6.

 

Day 4

Murray and Watson close a standout day for the Jacks

After making such a solid start on Day 1 of the Battle of the Brits Team Tennis, things looked very different for the Union Jacks at the start of day three, but they had two magnificent performances from Heather Watson to close out the day.

In the final match of the day they met their nemesis once more Joe Salisbury, partnering Emma Raducanu, and they were quickly broken at the start of the match. That is where their good start ended as Watson’s confidence, and some solid serving by Murray saw them coast through the first set.

After a brief medical timeout for Salisbury for his lower back and was overheard telling Leon Smith that it still was not feeling right, as Murray and Watson broke at the start of the second set. Even though the rest of the match was tight, they just looked the sharper.

Murray served out for a first win over Salisbury this tournament, 6-4 6-4, and more importantly hauled back the deficit after a couple of rough days.

Watson had played her best since the tournament began in the singles, and backed that up with razor sharp angles in the mixed doubles, drawing praise from her partner.

Murray said: “Good day for the Jacks. Heather [was the] player of the day I think, taking out Emma, great performance earlier, waiting around all day and played a great match in the mixed there. Starting to make a bit of a match of it, which is nice because the scoreboard wasn't looking too pretty for us after yesterday.”

‘The Jacks are Back’ was Judy Murray’s rallying cry: “I think our team are really starting to get it together now and this was a very satisfying day for us and we have narrowed that gap so we're in with a shout again.”

The stakes go up a gear with 17 points up for grabs on Friday.

Room for improvement as Edmund overcomes Peniston’s challenge to salvage a point for the Bulldogs

If there is one thing we learned about Ryan Peniston at the first Battle of the Brits, it is that the young  leftie has a big and determined game, going toe-to-toe with former British No. 1 Kyle Edmund.

Peniston impressed with his humble but hard-working ethic, and his trick of taking a more powerful ball on the rise to steal time helped him save a break point and give Edmund some pause for thought.

Unable to convert the solitary break point in the first set, Edmund found himself falling quickly behind in the tie-break 2-5 and could not regain a foothold as Peniston closed out a well-deserved first set lead.

The second set looked equally tight, this time with Peniston having a chance to put Edmund in real danger with a break, but it took until the end of the set to see any drama as Edmund toiled to break Peniston for the set, getting it on his fifth try.

The Union Jacks had snapped their match tie-break losing record, but Peniston had no luck in the first iteration of the Battle of the Brits, losing all three of his third set breakers. Edmund raced ahead for the lead, with Peniston coming back a little, but the Bulldogs saved face on a day that had largely belonged to the Union Jacks, winning out 6-7(2) 7-5 10-6.

Edmund praised Peniston, who has certainly made his mark since playing the first Battle of the Brits.

“He was aggressive today - came out and was really positive. Didn't allow me to play as much so also credit to him but I served well today, held my games and put the pressure on his serve and in the end I played a good solid tie-break.

“I've seen him play through the recent weeks on the British Tours and the Battle of the Brits.

“But today was more about finding a way which was more pleasing than just how I hit the ball but there was some good stuff and some stuff I need to improve on.”

Barnett and Nicholls grab another two points as the Union Jacks pick up the pace

With a chance to sneak another point for the resurgent Union Jacks, the doubles pairing of Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls showed the form that took them to the Progress Tour Women’s Championships with a determined comeback in the first set against Beth Grey and Eden Silva. They responded well to going a break down with a couple of breaks of their own to wrap up the first set.

After swapping breaks at the start of the second set, a medical time-out for Alicia Barnet saw a lengthy break out on Court One, and did nothing to slow down their progress as they broke twice again, but wobbled as they came to serve out for the match before making good to break for the fourth straight time to claim another valuable two points, 6-4 6-3.

After the match, Nicholls paid tribute to Jodie Burrage, who started the Jacks’ roll earlier in the day.

She said: “I think Jodie's win at the start of the day was massive. It just set the tone for the day, broke the rut of the tie-breaks - we've lost so many tie-break thirds this week - got us going and gave us a bit of confidence going forward.”

Murray and Glasspool close the gap with a commanding win

At the half-way point of Battle of the Brits Team Tennis, perhaps the tide is turning as the Union Jacks continue to hoover up the points on Day 4 of the Battle of the Brits Team Tennis.

Andy Murray and Lloyd Glasspool were up against the established doubles player Dom Inglot and Alastair Gray, and after a good morning for the Union Jacks, they certainly had some momentum behind them. Although their initial break was pegged straight back, they put the pressure on at the business end of the set, breaking to take the lead.

Glasspool had impressed in the first Battle of the Brits and has been putting in his hours on the doubles court, and it showed as the collaboration with Murray gelled well. The second set saw a quick jump out to a 3-0 lead. It looked like all plain sailing only for Murray and Glasspool to lose their serve.

Third match-point was the charm as they broke Inglot and Gray to snare two more points and put the Union Jacks now within 10 points of the Bulldogs, 6-4 6-4.

Team captain Greg Rusedski felt that this was the start of the comeback: “We've got great team spirit for the first three days. We haven't got the results we've wanted but today it's all changing.

“We've rested Dan Evans but it's like he's playing every match and every ball so absolutely delighted by the performance and if we get a few more wins today we're back in this thing for sure.”

 

Matusevich helps inch the Union Jacks closer

It was another chance for some of the younger, up-coming players to have their moment to shine, in what often have been hard-fought encounters. There was little to separate Anton Matusevich and Aiden McHugh in the first set, with the Union Jacks gaining a quick break at the end of the set to take the lead.

McHugh wasted little time in the second set, redressing the balance, breaking Matusevich twice at the start of the set and denying him any more than one game on the board.  

It was a quick start to the match tie-break for Matusevich who built up a quick 5-2 lead, with things getting just a little nervy as McHugh edged back into it. Matusevich needed just a single patch-point for 6-3, 1-6, 10-6 win, and more importantly another point for the Union Jacks. 

Like many of the younger players, the experience of being around some of the more established British stars has been invaluable.

“I actually enjoyed coach Judy on the bench, and Greg as well. He subbed out to watch the doubles but then Judy stepped in. Andy Murray, Jamie Murray, great experience, watching the matches as well and playing against them as well - played against Kyle, played Liam Broady - it's great experience. 

“It's competitive as well rather than just practice, because you're quite loose in practice. This puts like a mental, competitive edge to the game, so that's the fun of it.”

 

Watson puts in best performance yet to keep Union Jacks momentum

Heather Watson ended Emma Raducanu’s winning streak so far at the Battle of the Brits Team Tennis with a straight-sets win 6-2 6-4.

Emma Raducanu has made the most of her opportunity to shine in amongst the more established players at the Battle of the Brits Team Tennis, and Heather Watson would be the first to admit that it has been tough to get back into her restart after a long break.

Watson was taking no chances, breaking Raducanu right off the bat, and backing that up with a double-break cushion. 

Watson’s aggression on anything a little short was paying off, and although Raducanu managed to get another game on the board, it was a comfortable first set lead for the Union Jacks.

This would prove to be a good test for Raducanu, who had gone three-from-three at the Battle of the Brits. In a slight dip in Watson’s form, Raducanu managed to win back-to-back games to come back from a 1-4 deficit, including saving a match point.

Raducanu, who feels she can model her game on Simona Halep’s athleticism and Li Na’s tenacity, could not get into any kind of rhythm to dictate her kind of game. Watson can defend as well as play with attack and aggression, and that combination was just a little too hard for the teenager, as the former British No. 1 served out for the match.

This was a big leap up in terms of match-quality for Watson, as she explained after her match.

“It was a great day for me today. I had been saying after each of my previous matches that I'm getting better and getting better each match but today was a big jump. I definitely played some really good tennis.

“This is my first week of playing matches since the pandemic began. It's getting that match practice in and I'm just getting used to the stress of playing a match and I think I'm just dealing with it better and I'm feeling great.”

As always the team spirit was clearly audible, and it really helped Watson as she continues her restart.

“Really happy I got put with all the different characters. We're definitely beating the Bulldogs in team spirit, that's for sure.  I love playing in front of a crowd usually and just having them so loud and behind me, it really does give me that extra push.” 

 

Choinski downs Broady for second day in a row for another Union Jack point

For the second day in a row, Jan Choinski walked out onto Court One to face Liam Broady, and with it went quite a bit of hope once more for the Union Jacks as Choinski roared out to a 4-1 lead, despite a flurry of breaks for the pair. Keeping the pressure on, Choinski wrapped up the first set.

It was another early break to the German-born Choinski, who started representing Great Britain last year. Choinski’s weapons include a very punchy serve and forehand combination, and Broady at times seemed to be trying to think and do too much, causing captain Leon Smith to advise him to ‘just play tennis.’

It was a more settled performance for Broady in the second set but could not make any headway on a couple of break point chances to get himself back in the match.

Choinski did have to work to close out the win 6-2 6-3, but in a scenario where all points count for the Union Jacks, it was a key break for the fluttering flag.

 

Burrage hits back with much needed Union Jacks points with win over Dart

We might be halfway through the Battle of the Brits Team Tennis but with the Bulldogs gnawing their way through the points on offer, there were high hopes on Jodie Burrage as she took on Harriet Dart. 

Dart came out firing from the start, immediately putting Burrage under presser, but the first break went to the more match-tight Burrage. Now it has been a while since the pair have faced each other, dating back to ITF tournaments in 2015 and 2016 but despite some doubles success this week, this match heralded Dart’s return to singles competition for the first time since lockdown.

Dart kept the deficit to a single break, forcing Burrage to come out and serve for the first set. Dart’s defence had been rock solid, saving a set point, and then breaking Burrage, whose forehand has had a tendency to break down under pressure.

With Dart picking off two games on the bounce, Burrage now found herself fighting to stay in the first set, and Dart made no mistake on her first set point, making it look like a swift start for the Bulldogs.

Burrage came right out on the attack on the second set, looking to punish short Dart serves where she could, rewarded by an immediate break. Despite being pegged back, Burrage kept her nerve, breaking once more before going on to level the set.

There was a real jangling of the nerves in the tie-break with an early 4-1 lead for Dart spelling doom for the fluttering Jacks, but Burrage backed herself and overhauled the tie-break to give the Union Jacks some much needed points.

Burrage is possibly the most consistent player out there at the moment, having played almost non-stop since the restart began.

She said: “I stayed pretty tough throughout that last third set match tie-break. Obviously going down is quite hard to keep yourself positive but with the help of my team mates, their cheering and just staying tough mentally and making balls and trusting myself that I can hit the winners that I needed to.

“Playing so many matches definitely helped. I'm match-fit and I'm ready to go.”

 

Lumsden gets the Bulldogs to 30 points with a tough win over Broady

Maia Lumsden had already opened her singles account for the British Bulldogs with a win over Alicia Barnett on Tuesday, and was looking to get a win over Naomi Broady, who has beaten her in their only encounter as part of the UK Pro Series since lockdown eased.

Lumsden took control from the start, swiftly jumping out to a 4-1 lead and with Broady becoming frustrated after seeing her break point chances come and go, the Bulldogs found themselves a step closer to snaring the first point of the day, as Lumsden took the first set.

Lumsden started just as brightly in the second set breaking Broady straight away, although Broady seemed to be spurred on to break back and then fended off a determined attack by Lumsden, saving four break points, and breaking again to give the Union Jacks some hope. 

That hope was soon dashed as Lumsden fought back, breaking Broady twice in succession and it was third time’s the charm for match-points as the Bulldogs are half-way to the team title.

Variation was the key for Lumsden, who countered Broady’s heavy serving with her trademark variation.

She said, after the match: “I always use that variation. I’m not the tallest player so I’m better at using the variation against a lot of girls. They don’t always like the slice so try to use that as much as possible.

“It’s been great the last few weeks to have the chances to play in events and week’s so much fun in the team environment. Loving being back on court and especially with the team supporting this week.”

Day 3

Salisbury on fire as he and Edmund stifle Murray and Evans

There has been no shortage of drama at the Battle of the Brits Team Tennis – and none more so that the final doubles of the day. 

On the first day, Joe Salisbury and Harriet Dart reeled off eight points in a row to put the British Bulldogs ahead – and they have not looked back since. Salisbury was at the helm of another great come-back teaming up with Emma Raducanu to hand a defeat to Andy Murray and Jodie Burrage.

Closing honours went to Salisbury once more, this time with Kyle Edmund who once more faced Dan Evans over the net after their feisty encounter yesterday. An early break in the first set was all it took to get themselves in the driving seat, and a break at the start of the second set seemed to spell doom for the fluttering Jacks.

As well as looking significantly beefed up since his time in lockdown, there has been a real improvement in Edmund’s movement and net game, which showed on more than one occasion, leaving doubles player Jamie ‘Stretch’ Murray stranded at the net for one particularly memorable winner.

A break to love sealed another three points to the Bulldogs’ kennel.

There were 15 points for grabs today – the Union Jacks just managed to get their fingers on four of them. 15 more points to wrestle from the Bulldog paws coming up on Day 4.

Raducanu makes it three wins from three as she beats Burrage for two more Bulldog points

There was a lot of anticipation for this match up and not least for the two points riding on this for the struggling Union Jacks. Jodie Burrage is arguably one of the most in-form British players out there since the LTA restart and not far behind her is Emma Raducanu.

Both scored solid wins over much more experienced players, beating Johanna Konta and Katie Boulter respectively, and proving their doubles worth in mixed – now we got to see them head to head.

Heading into the match, they split their wins, with Raducanu winning their most recent encounter on the British Tour. Burrage made the more confident start, with an early break, but was pegged back in short order by the 17-year-old.

Raducanu’s aggression drew the errors from Burrage, as she took a competitive first set. Burrage kept her patience, not quite taking advantage of a break point chance in the first game, but keeping on the pressure and getting her just reward for a break in the second set.

While the Burrage backhand is a decent enough weapon, at times the forehand started to crumble, and with the fervent Bulldog support, pressure was building on the older, and arguably more experienced player as Raducanu broke back.

Errors were mounting for Burrage as confidence was soaring for Raducanu with another break who backed it up with her third win from three - 7-5 6-3 - and… two more points for the Bulldogs.

She said: “I think Jodie played a very good match and we both played a really high level. I’m just really pleased to have come through and kept going .

"Really pleased with the improvements I made in lockdown, the forehand especially and the return of serve. I'm playing aggressively and mentally I'm really strong at the moment."

 

Bulldogs pull ahead once more as Norrie & Grey edge Murray & Boulter

With a couple of points up for grabs out on Court one, tournament director Jamie Murray teamed up this time with Katie Boulter to take a claim on the continuing comeback at the Battle of the Brits Team Tennis. 

Murray and Boulter did have to work hard to stave off three break points before having a couple of chances themselves, taken for a lead at the end of the set, and grabbing the lead.

It was a lot more topsy-turvy in the second set, with a flurry of breaks for both but some strong attacking play from Norrie for a break levelled the match.

 

Murray and Boulter regained their composure well with a quickly earned 5-2 lead, but gradually found themselves pegged back, with a lot of pressure on Murray’s serve to hang in the fight but Norrie delivered the killer blow for another great turnaround win 3-6, 6-4, 10-8 and more importantly two more points for the Bulldogs to keep the Union Jacks at bay.

Glasspool and Broady keep the flag flying to give the Union Jacks another point

Mixed doubles have proved to be a points game changer so far, and the Union Jacks were pinning high hopes on three potential points coming up. First up Lloyd Glasspool and Naomi Broady might have stumbled at the start of their match against Dominic Inglot and Maia Lumsden but they more than made up for it with three straight breaks before wrapping up the first set to get the Union Jacks’ hopes up.

Glasspool who has been putting in some doubles time more recently, was serving solidly, and Broady looked as though she was making up for her loss earlier in the day as the pair broke early in the second set and did enough to hold that lead to wrap it up in straight sets.

Norrie does the double on Evans for more Bulldog success

It is fair to say that team events bring out the most boisterous version of Dan Evans that we know. Chief cheerleader for the Union Jacks, he has certainly been putting in the time on the side-lines during the Battle of the Brits Team Tennis.

Sometimes that energy comes at a price, and the Union Jack was caught flapping by a fired-up Cameron Norrie, who broke Evans in his first game to live, on his way to a 3-0 lead. Variety, however, is the spice of life and Evans’ variety and slice backhand soon started to carve up his opposition, clipping Norrie back on serve.

The Union Jacks have really struggled so far in their tie-breakers and this was no exception – a quick swap of mini-breaks but at the business end it was one mini-break that made all the difference, as Norrie snapped up the set on his second set-point.

It was a lot more focussed from Evans in the second set, breaking Norrie, whose level maybe just dipped a little in the middle of the set to allow Evans to gain some confidence. Norrie, whose movement has been really impressive this week was not done yet, reeling off four games on the bounce, including saving a set point.

The tie-break was a rollercoaster deserving of any theme park! Norrie’s early 4-2 lead was chipped away, with Evans breaking Norrie twice to bring up another set point, but it was Norrie’s turn to get a double break, getting his second win over the British No. 1 in three days.

He said, on court: “"It was tough. I beat him on Monday so I had a bit of pressure on me. Such a battle out there and I was lucky to get through.”

Choinski keeps the Union Jacks’ momentum going with win over Broady

Jan Choinski impressed against Cameron Norrie on Day 2 and was looking to bring his heavy-striking game to the fore against Liam Broady. With the Union Jacks trying to get some momentum going on Day 3, Choinski was the first to break the higher-ranked Broady, capping off a one-set lead by breaking Broady once more at the end of the set.

Choinski’s firepower and indeed his quiet confidence just seemed to be too much for Broady who surrendered a break late into the second set, and although he had his chances to pin Choinski back, he could not get that breakthrough on that occasion, but flouted Choinski’s first bid to serve out for the match. 

Choinski settled well to come back from that disappointment to break Broady for the match 6-3 6-4 and putting the Union Jacks on the come-back trail once more.

He said, after the match: “Well it’s only two days, we have a couple more to go. We’ve had a couple of tough losses, and I just wanted to play my best. I’m just glad that I made the break.” 

Watson holds her nerve to get the Union Jacks on the board

Nerves seemed to plague Heather Watson at the start of her match with Eden Silva. With the Union Jacks still very much on the back foot, Silva took her chances to strike in this first meeting against former British No. 1 Watson with a break at the start of the match, and keeping her nerve to break back to regain the advantage when it looked like Watson was mounting a comeback.

Silva held on to grab the first set, but with the sounds of ‘Come on, Heather, start again’ ringing in her ears from supporting team-mates Watson started to cut down her errors, started with a confident hold to love, and then backed that up with a break to love. It was altogether a much better level from Watson who levelled the set with all the momentum on her side going into the match tie-break.

A quick start to 4-1 for Watson was quickly eradicated, but experience counts for all, and if there is one thing you can rely on with Watson, it is a scrap to the finish. Watson’s strength is to turn defence into attack and with triple match points on the board, she only needed to take the one to get the Union Jacks finally into double digits, 3-6, 6-1, 10-6.

She said, in her on court interview: “She was moving very well. It was really small margins that first set. And then he second set things really clicked and the tie-break, I mean it’s anyone’s game and I stayed strong at the very end.”

 

Grey gets Bulldogs off to winning start

Beth Grey started the Bulldogs off with a confident looking performance against Naomi Broady. With honours even between them on the LTA British Tour this year, Grey certainly came out the brighter with perfectly book-ended breaks at the start and end of the first set.

The second set was a lot more competitive with Broady bringing up a chance, but ultimately to no avail as she was broken a few games later.

All that was left for Grey to do was hold her nerve, finally closing out a straight sets win over Broady 6-3 6-2.

Grey has yet to lose in any of her matches, winning in the doubles with Dominic Inglot on Day 1, Harriet Dart on Day 2, and now claims her first Singles win in this format.

Day 2

Raducanu and Salisbury complete Day 2 rout for the British Bulldogs

As the sun started to set on Day 2 of the Battle of the Brits Team Tennis, maybe the momentum was swinging back the way of the Union Jacks as the widely anticipated return of Andy Murray, in doubles action only this week.

It was the best start for the Union Jacks with Murray and Jodie Burrage, arguably one of the most in-form Brits currently, breaking the pairing of Joe Salisbury and Emma Raducanu twice in a row. Salisbury showed the same devastating form as last night to break back but Murray and Burrage had enough to keep them at bay.

Burrage and Raducanu had been the standout winners in the singles yesterday and were throwing themselves into the doubles – ably backed up by the handy doubles’ skills of both Salisbury and Murray.

Salisbury was instrumental in deflecting three break-points, but Raducanu showed why she had been able to out-strike a big-hitting Katie Boulter yesterday, helping to seal the break for the second set.

As with last night, Salisbury was bringing out the best in his partner as the gap in the tie-break widened.

With Murray and Burrage clawing things back on serve it took some big serving from Murray but tentative Burrage put-away sailed long and a double-fault put the Union Jacks on the back foot again.

The end came with Burrage getting in the way of a Murray shot to tip the balance once more for the British Bulldogs who have set the bar high, as the points on offer go up to 16 points on Day 3.

Evans give Union Jacks three valuable points as they reduce the deficit

With two former British No. 1s going head to head for three points, it was all eyes on Dan Evans and Kyle Edmund. Evans has been a vocal support of his fellow Union Jacks already in the two days of competition so far, and had no shortage of energy as the first two games saw them testing out each other with albeit unconverted break points, before the pair settled down to a very competitive match.

Evans, happily engaging with anyone and everyone on the side-lines, was the first to get a break and that was all it needed to keep his nose in front for the first set.

Edmund can usually be relied upon to fire well with his serve-forehand one-two punch combination, but after losing his serve once more, still could not find a way through Evans’ variety in much the same way as their Battle of the Brits final a few weeks ago.

Evans served for the match, a second straight win over Edmund and three valuable points for the Union Jacks in what had been a tough day at the office.

Jamie Murray & Olivia Nicholls get Union Jacks on the board on Day 2

Jamie Murray will have been keen to redress the balance from Day 1’s heartbreaker of a match tie-break loss, but an early break for him and Olivia Nicholls was short-lived, as they surrendered two straight breaks to find themselves chasing the match.

Thankfully for the Union Jacks, Murray and Nicholls turned things up a notch in the first set tie-break to sneak the set.

The pair looked a lot more settled in the second set, breaking mid-way through the set to finally secure a point for Union Jacks on Day 2, with five more points up for grabs to try and close the gap on the British Bulldogs.

 

Double Trouble for the Union Jacks as the Bulldogs gallop away with the points

On what could have, on paper, been two nailed on points for more established double players for the Union Jacks, once more they fell victim to the Bulldogs’ runaway confidence!

In the women’s doubles, the reunited doubles-pairing of Naomi Broady and Heather Watson went down an early break as Harriet Dart, fresh from her mixed doubles success the day before, certainly was in good touch once more as the pair raced away to take the first set.

It was certainly a better start for Broady and Watson to break but never count out the tenacity of Dart and Grey who cancelled out that advantage, leading to a flurry of breaks for both as Union Jacks’ support started to step up a gear.

Dart and Grey held for the first time in six games, delivering the final blow to break for yet more points from the British Bulldogs as the Union Jacks are still searching for their first points on Day 2. 

Bulldogs keep rolling with comeback wins for Konta and Lumsden

It is fair to say that both Johanna Konta and Katie Boulter were not expected to be on the losing side of their score-lines on Day 1, so with a lot to redeem for both, the breezy conditions and nerves saw three successive breaks to start before Boulter was the first to hold, and more importantly to take a lead.

While Konta admitted to Leon Smith, she felt overall this was a step up from her performance on Day 1, as Boulter closed out the first set comfortably, to give the Union Jacks a chance to grab a much needed point.

Starting the second set in much the same way, Konta was yet to hold serve in the match and facing a player like boulter, with equally big ball-striking, she was unable to shake the better rhythm coming from the other side of the net.

Out of nowhere, Konta strung together another break and finally her first hold in the match to turn the set around, forcing a tie-break for the second set.

Konta saw a 4-1 lead slowly eradicated, but suddenly her new-found confidence saw her force a match tie-break.

It was a quick lead for Konta, to go up 5-1 and he held on to the nerves as she got her first win on the board, and another point for the Bulldogs. 

Alicia Barnett and Maia Lumsden were key players in the Progress Tour Women’s Championships a couple of weeks ago, but thus far the traffic has been all in Barnett’s favour.

This match proved to be more of the same as Barnett raced out to a 4-0 lead, but Lumsden responded with two breaks to ease herself back into the match, with Barnett coming good on her first set point chance to give the Union Jacks a bit of daylight.

Lumsden looked to have been struggling during the Progress Tour Women’s Championships with an arm injury, but had been progressively more confident throughout the second set, building up a comfortable lead in the match tie-break, finally getting the job done for another Bulldog point on the third match point.

 

Norrie and Broady extend Bulldogs' lead

Battle of the Brits Team Tennis moved outside, and the British Bulldogs were quick out of the blocks.

Having overtaken the Union Jacks on Day 1 in a late surge, and with three points on offer in the first matches of the day, there was plenty of bite to start proceedings.

Cameron Norrie gave himself a confidence boost with his first win over Dan Evans in three meetings and looked to be carrying that confidence into his opening match on Day 2. Playing Jan Choinski, who started representing Britain in 2019, the German-born player was the first to halt Norrie’s stride, but experience counts for a lot, and Norrie replied with two straight breaks of his own to coast to a comfortable first set lead.

Choinski’s big serve and deep, heavy groundstrokes tested Norrie’s defence – an area where his movement and agility came into its own.

A stunning winning pass put the Bulldogs further in the lead with two points riding on this match, with some of Norrie’s best tennis on show.

Liam Broady was quick off the mark at the start of his match against Anton Matusevich, quickly jumping out to a 4-1 lead, breaking the 19-year-old again before closing out the set. However, he quickly found himself on the receiving end of a similar score-line falling 1-4 down as the Union Jacks fought to redress the balance of yesterday’s deficit and to the sounds of enthusiastic cheers, Matusevich levelled the match.

 

The fast-paced format meant the third set was a 10-point match tie-break and with the momentum swinging, nervy errors had the guys pegged level at 10-10. Broady hung on against the big-serving teen to clinch another point for the British Bulldogs – safe to say underdogs no more!

 

Day 1

British Bulldogs surge into a lead after a mixed doubles thriller

Arguably the most entertaining match of the day had the most riding on it at the at the Battle of the Brits Team Tennis event. There is no doubting Jamie Murray’s mixed doubles credentials as the tournament organiser took to the court for the final match of the day.

The Union Jacks had the upper hand for most of the day, but two wins in quick succession (by Emma Raducanu and the doubles pairing of Dom Inglot and Alex Gray) put the Bulldogs ahead.

The first sight of danger came in a weak game from Murray, but he and Watson, no mixed doubles slouch either with a Wimbledon title to her name) dug themselves out of saving four break points, and holding off another in the next game.

They could not quite pull off the same Houdini act as a missed volley at the net handed the first set to the Bulldogs. 

With the support from the watching team members getting ever boisterous, Murray & Watson were the first to break in the second set and started to gain in confidence as they went into a match tie-break.

At 8-2 for Murray and Watson, it looked all over, but Salisbury and Dart reeled off a tremendous eight points in a row to hand the British Bulldogs a resounding win for the end of the first day with a 9-4 lead over the Union Jacks.

 

Raducanu stuns Boulter and the Bulldogs surge into the lead with a doubles win

British Bulldogs coaches Leon Smith and Anne Keothavong likened themselves to the underdogs pre-tournament, and there was certainly some snap as Emma Raducanu nipped at Katie Boulter’s heels. The 17-year-old started fearlessly against Katie Boulter by getting an early break.

Boulter, who won the Progress Tour Women’s Championships just a couple of weeks ago, fired herself up to break back, but it was not enough with Raducanu responding with a break to take the first set.

Expecting Boulter to fight back, Raducanu continued to swing free, breaking the more experienced player at the start of the second set and very much beyond her young years, playing with composure, while Boulter at times looked visibly frustrated, especially with some of the calls.

Serving for the match, there was just the merest wobble from the teenager, with a volley dunked into the net on her first match point, and a miss-hit on her second. The arm might have been a little heavy, but it was enough to finally convert her third match point for a solid win against Boulter, who has been as high as World No. 82, 6-4 6-3.

Speaking in her on-court interview, Raducanu said: “I felt I had nothing to lose but I really backed myself. There were some sticky situations especially in the second set, but I’m really glad I came through and got a point for the Bulldogs.”

At the same time, fellow Bulldogs Dominic Inglot and Alex Grey toughed out a straight sets win over Dan Evans and Lloyd Glasspool. The pair had reached the finals of the doubles in the first iteration of the Battle of the Brits, but Inglot and Grey proved to be much sharper in the tie-break for the victory, 6-4 7-6(3).

The first day’s honours will now rest on the final mixed doubles of the day, for three points, between Jamie Murray/Heather Watson and Joe Salisbury/Harriet Dart.

 

Watson puts the Union Jacks ahead again with a tough win over Grey

In her first match back, having missed the Progress Tour Women’s Championships with a foot injury, Heather Watson found herself under immediate pressure from Beth Grey who has also been putting in the hours on the British Tour and UK Pro Series. Grey might have missed her chances in the first game but made up for it with a break straight after to put Watson on the back foot.

Watson dug in to break back twice in a row but lost her advantage while trying to serve out for the set the first time, sealing the deal on her second try.

A flurry of breaks still left the pair all square, but as it had been throughout the match, Grey had seemed the more threatening but with the finish line in sight, Watson held her nerve to break for the win in her first match back, 7-5 6-4.

There is obviously some room to improve, but Watson was able to take a lot of positives.

She said, in her on-court interview: “It was a strange feeling being back on court playing a competitive match. Glad to be back on the match court and looking forward to my mixed doubles later on.

“Obviously not at my best yet but in terms of how I’m playing, I was quite aggressive, and I’m pleased with that.”

 

Edmund rises up to the challenge and the Bulldogs draw level again

The British Bulldogs were counting on Kyle Edmund to bring them back on level terms in his one-pointer against Anton Matusevich.

The fast-paced match saw the teenager go toe-to-toe with Edmund right from the start, and despite Edmund pushing for a break, unconverted, it was Matusevich who struck first by breaking the former British No. 1.

Edmund broke straight back and could not quite get over the line with three set points coming and going but made no mistake on his fourth chance to take the lead.

That battle saw Edmund kick on with a lot more assurance in the second set, breaking for a comfortable lead, before closing out the match in straight sets 7-5 6-3, and more importantly getting the British Bulldogs back on equal terms.

Edmund, who had originally considered starting the ATP season in Washington but with the tournament’s cancellation, these past few weeks have been all about getting the match experience in.

He said, in his on-court interview: “We practice with [the younger British players], know their games a little bit. Anton has an aggressive game and likes to impose his physicality. In the second set once I got the break it was all about managing it. These matches are a good opportunity to get match tight and match fit.”

 

Doubles victory hand Union Jacks 3-2 overall lead

The pairing of Lloyd Glasspool and Naomi Broady were in solid form against Dominic Inglot and Eden Silva, breaking early at the start of the first set and despite being pegged back, they broke to take the first set, and repeated the feat to just as quickly snatch their lead away, as they gained two points for a mixed doubles win.

 

Norrie mounts a fight-back to beat Evans 

Reigning Battle of the Brits champion Dan Evans was back in action, this time spear-heading the Union Jacks as they edged into the lead once more. Already 2-0 ahead in their head to head, Evans had a chance to break in the first game and found himself deflecting break points on his own serve before taking the lead and holding on to take the first set.

Evans’ variety can often frustrate players, and in the second set, the British No. 1 looked to be putting the pressure on, but Norrie turned the tables, saving break points and then breaking Evans to love and standing firm to take the second set.

The momentum was briefly on Norrie’s side with an immediate mini-break but from that point, Evans was spurred into action, reeling off the next four points in a row. From a commanding 5-2 lead, Evans saw his lead eroded as Norrie drew level breaking twice to turn the tide. 

Norrie closed in at speed on a first win over Evans with a superb winner.

 

British Bulldogs draw level as McHugh beats Peniston

It was a see-saw match on the men’s die with Ryan Peniston and Aiden McHugh battling hard in their first match. A couple of braces of breaks evened things out, but McHugh nudged ahead to put the British Bulldogs in the driving seat.

With break point chances for both going begging in a tighter second set, once more Peniston was the first to strike out with a break and held on to that lead to force a deciding match tie-break.

Once more Peniston led the way, but McHugh’s determination saw him pick off two mini-breaks to edge ahead, closing out the win amidst some boisterous support 6-4, 3-6, 10-7.

 

Match-tight Burrage downs a rusty Konta to claim first point for Union Jacks

 

Jodie Burrage, runner-up in the recent Progress Tour Women’s Championships, put the Union Jacks ahead in a tough opener against World No. 14 and British No. 1 Johanna Konta.

Burrage has been a committed participant in the LTA’s return to elite competition tournaments, and after narrowly losing to Kate Boulter a couple of weeks ago, promised herself a good rest. It certainly worked, - she looked match tight as Konta made her return to competition for the first time reaching the semi-finals of Monterrey in March.

Under the watchful eye of new trial coach Thomas Hogstedt the frustration at opening match rust was evident, as Burrage looked to dictate points, often leaving Konta to scramble around the court.

Konta hung on to force Burrage to serve out for the win and she closed out the match 6-4 6-3.

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