KYLE EDMUND defended British tennis’s wild-card system after Naomi Broady bucked the trend of five home disappointments on Wimbledon’s opening day.
Beverley-born Edmund, Dan Evans, Dan Cox, James Ward and Johanna Konta all fell by the Wimbledon wayside yesterday – but Broady saw off Hungarian Timea Babos for her maiden grand slam victory.
Self-funded Broady pocketed £43,000 for reaching the second round, after toppling Babos 2-6 7-6 (9/7) 6-0.
The Stockport-born 24-year-old revelled in vindicating her decision not to abandon tennis for life as an au pair just a year ago.
First-round losers at Wimbledon now take home £27,000, leading to increased wild card scrutiny, but both Evans and Edmund backed the existing set-up.
Edmund lost out to 6-3 7-6 (7/4) 6-2 to world No 95 Andreas Heider-Maure, then admitted it is tough going facing – on paper at least – vastly superior opponents.
“The reality is the British players are not highly ranked, we only have one person in the top 100, everyone knows that,” said the 19-year-old.
“Everyone we’re going to play, they’re expected to win. That’s why you see early first-round exits, hence myself. All the attention gets focused on two weeks, how badly they did.
“Through the year everyone has been playing Futures and Challengers (lower-tier tournaments), it’s not like every week we get wild cards. The wild cards can be good experience, but can also be used as an vital stepping stone for a breakthrough.”
Evans conceded his loss to Andrey Kuznetsov proved the day’s biggest British frustration, the 24-year-old losing out 6-1 7-5 3-6 7-6 (7/5), admitting he expected flak for losing out despite conceding just 25 world rankings places to his Russian opponent.
Breaching the world’s top 100 was not enough of a boon for Sydney-born Konta against Shuai Peng, China’s world No 60 easing home 6-4 3-6 6-4.
Cox was powerless to stop France’s world No 42 Jeremy Chardy coasting home 6-2 7-6 (7/3) 6-7 (8/6) 6-3. Ward was overwhelmed 6-2 6-2 6-1 by 17th seed Mikhail Youzhny.