BRITONS Elena Baltacha and James Ward fell agonisingly at the final hurdle of US Open qualifying last night.
Scottish veteran Baltacha actually served for the match against Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal but eventually lost 4-6, 7-5, 6-1. Ward, the British No 2, led by a break in the final set but lost 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 to India’s Somdev Devvarman.
That left Dan Evans as the sole remaining Briton with hopes of joining compatriots Andy Murray, Laura Robson and Heather Watson in the main draw and was due to plays Spain’s Adrian Menendez-Maceiras later last night.
Baltacha, ranked world No 244 as she makes her way back from injury started strong and took the first set at Flushing Meadows. She then bounced back from 3-0 down in the second to move 5-4 up with a chance to serve for the match. De Brito, who had shocked Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon earlier in the summer dug deep to reel off three straight games for the set and then finished the Scot off in the decider after two hours and 31 minutes.
Ward, 26, was visibly upset after allowing a great chance to qualify for the US Open for a first time slip away. He recovered from a set and a break down to level and led 2-0 in the third but Devvarman got a second wind and prevailed.