Broady eyeing up French Open tilt after winning maiden UK Pro Series title

Sportsbeat
·6 min read
Broady was thrilled about becoming the first UK Pro Series men's champion and says a tilt at Roland-Garros could be next
Broady was thrilled about becoming the first UK Pro Series men's champion and says a tilt at Roland-Garros could be next

Liam Broady is targeting a Grand Slam return at Roland-Garros after being crowned the first men’s champion of the UK Pro Series, writes Will Jennings.

The Stockport star toppled British No.11 Ryan Peniston 6-2, 6-4 in the final at St. George’s Hill Lawn Tennis Club, capping off a memorable Classic Week where he won six out of his seven matches.

The British No.6 will next head to Trieste for an ATP Challenger Tour event where he’ll swap Weybridge’s speedy indoor courts for the slower, more attritional Italian clay.

That’s a transition he’s relishing and with the French Open confirmed to take place at the end of next month, Broady reckons a first Grand Slam appearance since 2018 could be just around the corner.

“It feels fantastic to come away with the win - Ryan was fantastic all week and has been getting better and better going into the tournament,” the 26-year-old said.

“It’s been great and I’m now going to go and play the Challenger Tour event in Italy on the clay and get ready for the French Open.

“Obviously it’s a different surface and I’m going from indoors to outdoors, from the low bouncing hard court to the pretty lively Italian clay courts.

“It will be a pretty quick turnaround but hopefully I have the time - I’m feeling match fit and I’ve definitely got the confidence, so hopefully I have enough time to feel comfortable with the surface.

“I guess we’ll see how the clay court season goes, but maybe if I qualify for the French Open [a Grand Slam appearance] will be sooner than we expect!”

Emma Raducanu also says the Grand Slams are next after battling from behind to be crowned the tournament’s first ever women’s champion.

The teenage sensation thought she was dead and buried against Jodie Burrage but showed all her resilience to overhaul a 6-2 super tie-break deficit and seal a remarkable turnaround.

The 17-year-old is one of the hottest prospects on the circuit and reckons her lofty ambitions are within touching distance.

“It feels great especially after that match - it was a bit of an epic, was up and down and there was such a momentum shift,” she said.

“To be honest, at one point I didn’t think I’d be able to pull through but as it got tighter I thought I could actually do it.

“My long-term goals in tennis are to be top ten in the world and win Slams - they’re my ultimate dreams and I definitely think I have the mentality to do it.

“I’m pretty ambitious - there are a lot of 17-year-olds out there who are better than me. There are top 100 WTA players, so that’s where you want to be.

“It’s just if my game can follow, but I think with the progress that I’m making at the moment that isn’t too far out of the question.

“I really do believe I can do it. I think I’ve still got at least 15 years in the sport, but I would want to be peaking in my 20s when I’m about 23.”

Broady and Raducanu were two of 24 leading players competing in the widely-billed Premier League of tennis, playing alongside the likes of Burrage, Naomi Broady and Harriet Dart in the women’s draw and Peniston, James Ward and Arthur Fery in the men’s.

The innovative format was devised by Andy Murray’s coach, Jamie Delgado, with players on Classic Week being split into two boxes of six ahead of finals weekend.

Ward secured third place in the men’s draw with a clutch super tie-break victory over a despondent Dan Cox, who had embarked on a memorable run but was unable to finish it in style.

The experienced Cox, who retired from tennis in 2017 before returning ahead of the event, failed to hold on to a 6-2 first set lead as Ward took the second 6-3 and then the decider 10-8.

“I don’t like the feeling of what I’m feeling at the moment and I don’t miss that from tennis,” Cox, 29, said.

“Right now just coming off it does [make me think twice about playing again]. When things have calmed down I’ll be able to take a bit more positives out of it but right now, it hurts.”

Julian Cash won his fourth super tie-break in a row to finish fifth against Billy Harris, who was playing his 42nd consecutive game in 42 days since the UK Pro Series first started on July 6.

Cash also had to come from behind but took the second set 6-3 and the ‘buster’ 10-4 to complete a remarkable change in fortune, having lost his first three deciders of the week but winning his final four.

Alastair Gray beat Fery 12-10 in their decider to finish seventh, while Henry Patten toppled Luke Johnson to finish ninth and Mark Whitehouse sealed eleventh place with a win over Tom Hands.

British No.3 Dart scooped the final spot on the podium in the women’s draw after Eden Silva was forced to retire with the score at 4-1 to Dart in their third-fourth place play-off.

Dart was at far from her best in Weybridge and was blown away by Raducanu in the semi-finals, but is looking to bounce back when the international tour resumes and improve on her No.147 world ranking.

Young star Emily Appleton shocked the experienced Naomi Broady to finish fifth, while Sarah Beth Grey toppled 18-year-old Sonay Kartal to secure seventh.

Emily Arbuthnott finished her week on a high by beating Freya Christie to finish ninth, while there was a win for Loughborough University student Nadia Rawson as she beat Danielle Daley - replacing an injured Eliz Maloney - for eleventh.

12 of the UK’s top women and men qualified through the UK Pro Series for the UK Pro Classic - widely billed as the Premier League of Tennis. For more information, visit www.ukproseries.com.