Wimbledon 2022: Broady runs out of road in SW19

There was a moment in Liam Broady’s match when the crowd on No1 Court turned to each other and mouthed: “He couldn’t, could he? Rise from the dead yet again?”

Liam Broady can't quite pull off another act of Wimbledon escapology
Liam Broady can't quite pull off another act of Wimbledon escapology

Admittedly the Brit’s third-round situation wasn’t as dire as it was Thursday when he lost 11 games on the bounce. Still, at two sets and a break down to Alex de Minaur there seemed no way back from him.

Then, from beneath those whiskers, he stirred for his first serious threat to the Australian’s serve. That chance got away but De Minaur wasn’t going to be allowed to waltz to victory, with Matilda or anyone.

The British No5 punched away more point-saving volleys, each time roaring at the stands, which promptly roared back. The cheers were even louder when he broke De Minaur to restore parity in the set, but that seemed to have been a superhuman effort for he couldn’t hold serve. “Too little too late,” was how Broady described his mini-revival following the 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 defeat.

“It was a tough loss. I probably didn’t settle into the match as quickly as I would have liked. I only got into the rhythm of it when I was that break down in the third set. Obviously against someone like Alex who’s a world-class grass-courter, that’s going to be too late.

Broady is 28 but old enough to know his tennis history and reference some great names from the wooden-racket past. “I felt like classic Jimmy Connors,” he said. “I didn’t [so much] lose the match as ran out of time.

“That said, I was bugging [the umpire] because I sent a racket away to have it done a couple of pounds tighter. The first couple of sets I felt like the ball was flying off my strings. The racket only came back once I was the break down in the third. I suddenly felt more comfortable, like the ball was doing what I was trying to tell it to do.

”Like I said, too late. I know that guys like [Bjorn] Borg back in the day used to have like 20 rackets in the bag but I only had three. Maybe I’ll need a couple more in there for the next tournaments.”

On the near horizon is the US Open when Broady will hope to take his Wimbledon form into the main draw. “It's funny because if you asked me at the start of this tournament I’d have said no chance would I be making the second week. [Before this match] I was like: ‘Jesus, the second week is pretty soon now.’

Not this year for Broady; better luck next time for a player who’s bulldog spirit has impressed. De Minaur is the boyfriend of Katie Boulter but the Aussie seems to be systematically dismantling the British challenge, having beaten Jack Draper in the previous round. Has Boulter been giving him tips? “No,” the Aussie smiled, “she tries to stay as neutral as she can.”

For De Minaur it’s first time in the second week. “This has been a goal of mine for a while. Now, [the tennis] doesn’t have to be pretty, doesn’t have to be flawless. Stay loose and who knows what can happen.”

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