British Duo Qualify for Artois Championships
British duo James Ward and Richard Bloomfield have qualified for the main draw of the 2008 Artois Championships after coming through epic three-set matches in Sunday’s final qualifying round at The Queen’s Club.
Ward, the 21-year-old from London who currently stands at No. 488 in the world, overcame Thailand’s Danai Udomchoke - ranked more than 300 places above him at No. 182 – to qualify at an ATP tournament for the first time in his career.
“It was very difficult,” said Ward. “He’s obviously an experienced pro and beaten some good players. I did play well, I served really well and had a lot of chances on his serve as well and came through in the end.”
His reward for a 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 victory is a Centre Court showdown with former World No. 1 Marat Safin on Monday, and Ward says he will call on his good friend Juan Carlos Ferrero for some advice.
“It’ll be a good match and I’m looking forward to it,” said Ward. “I’ll give Juan Carlos a call tonight and see what he says. He’s played him a few times.”
Formerly based at the Ferrero’s academy in Spain, Ward’s only previous venture in top flight tennis came when he received a wild card in Valencia in 2007, losing in the first round against Frenchman Augustin Gensse.
Since then, he has been working his way up the rankings on the Futures circuit, reaching semifinals on clay this year in Spain and Cuba, as well as on hard courts in Mexico.
Meanwhile, Bloomfield made his Artois Championships debut last year after receiving a wild card, losing to American Robby Ginepri in the first round. The 25-year-old from Norwich saved two match points in his final qualifying match against Korean Woong-Sun Jun before finally coming through 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(8) after 2 hours, 42 minutes.
The British No. 7 will now face former Australian Open finalist Fernando Gonzalez ,the No. 10 seed, on Tuesday.
Australia’s Joseph Sirianni qualified to earn a meeting with British wild card Alex Bogdanovic, while South Africa’s Rik de Voest came through to book a first round clasy with two-time runner-up Sebastien Grosjean.