Ward comes so close to success

Great Britain's James Ward came so close to a second round victory, but lapsed in the fifth set against Mardy Fish

Great Britain's James Ward came so close to a second round victory, but lapsed in the fifth set against Mardy Fish

First published in National Sport News © by

Londoner James Ward played that familiar role of the British nearly man at Wimbledon as he was edged out by Mardy Fish in a five-set second-round thriller.

There have been several cases of low-ranked home players making gallant attempts at glory at SW19 and this was Ward's day in the sun.

Despite being Britain's number two player, he can only boast a ranking of 173rd, but that rarely showed as he pushed the 10th-seeded Fish all the way en route to a 6-3 5-7 6-4 6/7 (7/3) 6-3 loss.

The 25-year-old unleashed some stunning backhand winners and staved off match point in the fourth set, but eventually he succumbed to the Californian who received his most rigorous workout since returning from a heart scare.

Fish wrapped up the opening set inside 33 minutes. He then took the Brit's serve in the first game of the second set. Fish snagged three more break points in the third game too but, when Ward served his way out of trouble, the momentum of the game changed.

Ward broke back when Fish planted a volley long and, after the pair frittered away six more break points between them, Ward took the set when he planted a one-handed winner wide of his opponent.

The disparity in their rankings was hardly evident - if anything, Ward looked the better player - and the third set started evenly until Ward gave Fish a chance in the seventh game. He failed to take that one, but snared the second of three he earned in the ninth game with a fizzing backhand before serving out to lead two sets to one.

The fourth set followed a similar pattern, with Ward blinking first with a wide backhand in the seventh game, but on this occasion he fought back, breaking back in the 10th and then prevailing in the tie-break having survived match point on his own serve in the 12th.

But, despite serve holding through to the eighth game in the fifth, he lapsed and offered Fish three break points, conceding one of them with the weakest of forehands. And, after a number of near misses, Fish made sure he closed out on this occasion, raising his arms after sending down an ace.

Speaking after the match, Ward said: "I'm disappointed. Everyone else seems to be pretty happy but I don't know why. It was a good match and I'm not going to lie and say it wasn't. It was a special day for both of us."

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