He is the toast of Wimbledon, Britain’s hero and, surprisingly, his name is not Andy Murray.
As Wimbledon sprang into life yesterday, the star of the show was Liam Broady. The 21-year-old from Manchester won his first main-draw match in SW19 by coming back from two sets down to beat Marinko Matosevic 5-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 and earn himself £47,000 into the bargain. That is almost as much as he has earned in his whole career so far.
Wimbledon is littered with stories of plucky Brits, dragged out of obscurity by the offer of a wild card, and then thrown to lions in the first round. Broady, though, bucked the trend with a display of nerve, impressive serving and belief.
Ranked No 182 in the world and more used to the Challenger circuit, he soaked up whatever Matosevic could find to throw at him for the first two sets and then bit back.
“To be honest, it’s really not sunk in yet,” Broady said. “I thought I didn’t start off that great. I thought I could have probably won the first two sets, to be honest. I think we were both quite nervous. That’s the advantage of playing a best‑of‑five set match – I had a lot longer to find my game. When I did, I tried to take advantage of it. I think he lost belief after the first couple of sets.
“I had a little bit of a lapse at the start of the fifth because, obviously, I’d found myself level after being so far down, but managed to sort of recollect my thoughts and push back.”
The win was vindication for Broady’s decision three years ago to cut all ties with his father, Simon, and accept the help of the Lawn Tennis Association.
Broady Senior had shunned the LTA years before when his daughter, Naomi, then aged 17, had her funding from the association withdrawn after she posted a picture of herself on the social networking site, Bebo. What she thought was a bit of teenage high jinks – the photograph showed her in a pole dancing pose next to a condom machine – was seen as “unprofessional behaviour” by the LTA. In high dudgeon, Simon Broady pulled both of his children out of the LTA fold and funded their careers himself.
The LTA tried to persuade their father to let Naomi and Liam come back to the LTA but he was having none of it. And then, in 2012, Liam accepted the offer of coaching help from Mark Hilton, an LTA man. Since then, Broady’s career has flourished and in 2014 he rose from No 470 to 196th in the rankings in the space of one season. And since then, Broady’s father has not spoken to him.
“It was always the right decision for me whether I got the results or not,” he said. “I had to kind of grow up and mature as a person, not just a tennis player by sort of doing things on my own, even things like, I’ve said it before, filing your tax, getting your own racquets strung, booking your own flights. It’s all stuff you need to learn and grow up and realise that you’re not living in an enclosed world anymore. I’ll always say, I think it was the right decision.”
But, if his father is no longer a part of his life, the rest of his family are very much a part of his support network. Naomi