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Ward outclassed by Verdasco

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 12:35

The 22-year-old Londoner, playing on Court One in his first grand slam event, never fully recovered from a nervous start and lost 6-1 6-3 6-4 to the Spanish world number eight.

Ward, one of four British wild-card entries in the men’s singles, was consoled by a £10,750 cheque, the reward for a first-round loser which earned him around £100 a minute for his day in the sun.

The Briton took a set off Marat Safin at Queen’s but his attempt to close a gap of 200 places in the world rankings against the Spaniard was clearly a bridge too far.

He appeared overawed at first and won only four points on Verdasco’s serve in the first set, which was all over in 26 minutes.

The 6ft 2in Ward had the bigger serve but lacked the direction and consistency to make it pay against the experienced Verdasco, who was a semi-finalist at the Australian Open earlier this year.

A second-serve ace was the highlight of Ward’s performance in the first set but, once his nerves began to settle, he at least made the world number eight work for the points from then on.

Three times he held serve in the second set and brought the crowd to life with a lob in the seventh game to briefly threaten the Spaniard’s serve for the first time.

Ward grew in confidence in the third set and twice held his serve to love, but the turning point came when he failed to take advantage of a 4-3 and 40-15 lead and was then broken for the only time in the ninth game.

Verdasco then served out to wrap up the win in an hour and 32 minutes but Ward had the satisfaction of walking off court with his head held high.

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