It would be impossible to walk past a tennis court and not be drawn to Dustin Brown but this afternoon it wasn’t just his exceptionally long dreadlocks that were turning heads, but the superb quality of his tennis.
The German, who resides in Montego Bay, Jamaica, played a brilliant grass court game to oust eighth seeded American Rajeev Ram 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 and, for the first time in his career, qualify for a Grand Slam singles main draw place.
“I’m happy I got through, it’s the first time I’ve qualified at a Grand Slam," Brown told Wimbledon.com. "I’ve been in a main draw a couple of times before when I was around 80 in the world but in the qualies I’ve never done well,” he said.
The 6ft 5ins player, who has a penchant for luminous shoelaces and is affectionately known as Dreddy by his friends, certainly had his work cut out in the form of Ram – a similar serve volley player who excels on fast surfaces. The men had met on three previous occasions – with Ram winning two of those encounters and, in the beginning at least, it looked as though the American might be on course to add another victory to the tally when he tucked the opening set under his belt and broke early on in the second.
“I played a bad service game and it got me broken,” Brown admitted. “I was down on myself because then he was up a set and up a break in the second. I had to hang in there and try to make as many returns as possible, and say if it goes to five sets it goes to five sets and not put pressure on myself.”
Brown didn’t need the full five to score a win however. “It’s sad one of us had to lose because both of us are suited to this type of surface. I would have preferred to play anyone else because Rajeev is a great player on grass,” the 27-year-old added.
“We know each other really well, he’s a great guy. Yesterday we were in the locker room right after we won our second rounds and we were smiling and like oh God not you again. Every time we go to a tournament with these surfaces he’s one of the guys I don’t want to play against and vice versa when he saw the draw he looked at me and was like ah man.”
It’s been two years since Brown last played in the Wimbledon main draw – on that occasion he fell to 16th seed Jurgen Melzer and he’s delighted at the prospect of playing on the hallowed lawns again.
“I’ll call everybody now,” he smiled. “[Everything] is perfect. The body is fine and I’m happy about everything.”
On the adjacent court another seed - American Ryan Sweeting - was pushed to the five set limit by Germany’s Peter Torebko. However, the No.21 seed managed to reverse his slow start and eventually scrape through 3-6, 1-6, 7-6 (3), 7-5, 6-4.
After the match Sweeting admitted to a slow start and confessed his season had been “average to poor”, in part due to the large number of points he lost by failing to defend his Houston title.
“He came out playing well, really consistent, I just started out flat footed really,” Sweeting reflected. “I wasn’t moving well, I wasn’t making a lot of first serves and he won the first two sets fairly easily and it was tough. I know that if you get to five sets anything can happen so I just concentrated on each point at a time and started to find my game more and more and held my serve well in the final set.”
The 24-year-old added he was excited at the prospect of playing main draw and having four days off. “I now have a lot of lounge, time, will go to the gym and really try and figure out how to start well in these matches because I can’t afford to be losing the first couple sets like this anymore,” he laughed.