Liam Broady has had a hectic few days but revelled in his table-topping exploits after marching into the UK Pro Classic semi-finals, writes Will Jennings.
The Stockport star bounced back from a shock Wednesday defeat against Billy Harris to beat Tom Hands and Dan Cox to seal his spot at the summit of Pool A.
Hands was never his intended Thursday opponent, however, with Broady due to meet Anton Matusevich until the British No.16 got stuck in M25 traffic en route to the venue.
That late change of opponent proved an undesired distraction but Broady was thrilled to get over the line after a chaotic few days in Weybridge.
“The level's been pretty high this week and it’s been neck and neck, but I’m happy with the way it’s turned out,” the 26-year-old said.
“I know Dan’s a fantastic player - the third set’s a lottery for anyone but thankfully it went my way today.
“It’s never easy when you’re the opponent in that situation [with Anton]. Even 15 minutes before the match before us you’re still not sure if Anton’s going to show up on time!
“It was a really strange situation and I’ve not been through it many times. I probably showed that - I lost my first two service games to love so my head was all over the place!”
Cox took Broady to a super tie-break in the Pool B decider but the British No.6 won it 10-5 to soar to the top of the group.
Ryan Peniston reckons there’s just a hair's breadth between him and the UK’s top players after securing top spot in Pool B.
The British No.11 eased past Luke Johnson 6-0, 7-5 in his final pool match to end with a record of four wins from five, losing only to Arthur Fery having also beaten the experienced James Ward.
Peniston recently competed at the Battle of the Brits alongside Kyle Edmund and Cameron Norrie and says it’s only a matter of time before he’s beating the British elite.
“I don’t think that gap is that huge - it was the first time playing against guys like that and I felt like I held my own and I was proud of my performances,” the 24-year-old said.
“It’s just the little percentages that make the guys get them to where they are, and the difficult thing is getting those little percentages and little improvements every day.
It was disappointment for @JamesWardtennis yesterday but he bounces back today with a win over Henry Patten!— ukprotennis (@ukprotennis) August 14, 2020
Ward and Ryan Peniston have now qualified from Pool B and will head into the semi-finals tomorrow ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/87r3Cwp9XR
“A few tweaks in my game and I can definitely be up at their level - it’s just a few tweaks and improvements here and there.”
24 leading players are duelling it out in the ‘Premier League of tennis’ including Harriet Dart and Eden Silva in the women’s draw and Ward and Broady in the men’s.
The innovative format was devised by Andy Murray’s coach, Jamie Delgado, with players being split into two boxes of six ahead of finals weekend on August 15th and 16th.
Ward finished second in Peniston’s pool after a 6-3, 7-5 win over Henry Patten and will meet Broady in the semi-finals, while Julian Cash toppled Arthur Fery in a 14-12 super tie-break late in the day.
Cox finished second in Pool A and will meet Peniston in his last four clash, while Alastair Gray secured third after a 6-2, 6-2 win over Mark Whitehouse.
And Classic Week newcomer Tom Hands got on the scoresheet in the morning, making amends for his defeat against Broady with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Billy Harris.
Harriet Dart capped an imperious group stage but reckons she’s the underdog in the women’s draw.
The British No.3 has won five out of five this week and beat Emily Arbuthnott 6-1, 6-3 in her final pool game to book a semi-final date with 17-year-old Emma Raducanu.
Dart is a wildcard entry and piled the pressure on Raducanu by saying she’s still playing ‘catch-up’.
“I still feel like I’m a bit of the underdog here even though my ranking’s a lot higher than everyone’s,” she said.
“I’ve played considerably fewer matches than both Emma and Jodie [Burrage] and I definitely think they’re both playing really well, so I’m still playing a little bit of catch-up.”
Silva beat Naomi Broady in a super tie-break to finish second in Pool A, winning 10-2 to meet the brilliant Burrage in the semi-finals.
Burrage, like Dart, won all five of her group stage matches and eased past Nadia Rawson 6-2 6-3 on Friday.
And Raducanu took a super tie-break to win her final group match, beating Sarah Beth Grey 10-3 to book that clash with star of Wimbledon 2019 Dart.
Emily Appleton took just 73 minutes to brush past Eliz Maloney to come third in her group, while Sonay Kartal picked up her second win of the week against a disappointed Freya Christie.
12 of the UK’s top women and men have qualified through the UK Pro Series for the UK Pro Classic - www.ukproseries.com. The competition will be available for free on LIVENow, Eurosport Player and will have national free to air coverage via FreeSports