Doubles delight, rustiness and injuries

Opening week of tennis season shows British fans will be in for another rollercoaster of a season

We’re officially one week into the new tennis season and what a week it’s been for British tennis fans! From Harriet’s heroics in Brisbane, to Bambridge and O’Mara’s powerful Pune partnership, there have been some great stories in week one.

There have also been some concerns, with the likes of Heather Watson, Jo Konta and Naomi Broady all suffering surprise defeats, while injury concerns have continued to make the headlines in the men’s game. Here’s The Big Racket’s review of week one.

Bambridge, O’Mara and Salisbury lead the way in the doubles

One week after being included in our 8 players to watch post, Luke Bambridge and Jonny O’Mara teamed up in Pune with devastating impact. Reaching the final, their run in Pune shows exactly why we picked them as players to watch this season, with a standout victory over Spanish pair Gerard and Marcel Granollers in the semi-finals.

In Brisbane, Joe Salisbury picked up where he left off as he teamed up with American Rajeev Ram to reach his third ATP doubles final since September. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind journey for the Brit since his surprise run at Wimbledon, but he has shown the consistency that can propel him to become one of the world’s best doubles players. A final defeat for Salisbury and Ram will be disappointing, but an extremely encouraging week nonetheless.

Watch this space, doubles fans. Britain is ready to dominate!

Dart shines in mixed week in Brisbane

2019 hadn’t even started and Harriet Dart was turning heads in the new season with some stunning victories in the qualifying rounds of the WTA Premier event in Brisbane. An expert performance against experienced Andrea Petkovic followed a gutsy victory over Priscilla Hon in the opening round, to provide Harriet with a huge 80 ranking points to start the season, as well as a new career high ranking.

However it wasn’t all good news for Brits in Brisbane, as Jo Konta, Heather Watson and Kyle Edmund all disappointed. Ok, Konta defeated Sloane Stephens in the opening round. But the follow-up defeat against Ajla Tomljanovic will be slightly disappointing for the former world number four.

Heather Watson couldn’t get off to a winning start in the qualifying, falling to teenager Marta Kostyuk, while Kyle Edmund lost to Japanese qualifier Yasutaka Uchiyama in his first match of 2019. Edmund now faces a battle to be fit ahead of the Australian Open – where he is defending significant ranking points – after pulling out of the Sydney International with injury.

Murray returns with victory

I think we can all say how delighted we are that Andy is back on the tour. His opening round victory over Australian wildcard James Duckworth in Brisbane was followed by a defeat to Daniil Medvedev. Murray was outplayed by his Russian opponent, and despite causing fans concern with his post-match comments, he can still be pleased to get 2019 off to a winning start.

He now races to Melbourne with a win in his bag to compete on the first Grand Slam event. He’s joked on social media that he is a ‘5 times loser’, and he’s got the closest he’ll ever get to the Australian Open trophy, when posing by it for a picture. However, if you need inspiration about how players can come back to compete at a high level, just look at Stan Wawrinka.

We might not see Andy win another major, but let’s just be happy that he’s returned from this surgery and is back on the tennis court. Imagine if he drew Novak in the opening round in Melbourne…

Katie Swan off to bright start

Over on the ITF tour, Katie Swan was the best pick of the Brits after convincingly reaching the semi-finals in Playford at the W25 event. Swan’s serving was so impressive, hitting an amazing 26 aces in four matches, where she fell to young Kazakh Elena Rybakina, who incidentally knocked out Gabi Taylor in the quarter-finals.

Taylor has a lot of points to defend in Australia, but will be pleased to get two wins under her belt. She heads to Melbourne for the qualifying rounds; a place she would have dreamed of being this time last year.

Elsewhere, Naomi Broady’s run in Hong Kong ended in the second round to a qualifier, while Maia Lumsden fell in the opening round. Tara Moore failed to get out of the qualification draw, with the ITF’s changes showing just how much tougher it will be for the lower-ranked Brits to reach main draws. Lloyd Glasspool and Evan Hoyt failed to beat lower-ranked Americans in Los Angeles, while Barnaby Smith lost in the opening qualifying round.

Liam Broady managed to win his opening match of the season at the Orlando Challenger, before losing to the experienced Norbert Gombos, while there were early defeats for Jan Choinski (Orlando) and Dan Evans (Playford). James Ward, meanwhile, was defeated in the opening qualifying round in the Doha ATP event.

Image: Kate Tann

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