Jamie Baker became the first Brit to win through the opening round of Wimbledon qualifying this afternoon with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over No.17 seed Matteo Viola.
The wild card, who also qualified for last week’s Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club before bowing out in the first round, admitted he initially struggled against his Italian opponent who at 138 is world ranked 166 places above him.
Speaking to www.wimbledon.com, the Scot said he found it difficult to adjust to ‘slow’ grass court conditions at the Bank of England grounds, Roehampton.
“The grass was a bit slower than I expected it to be…so my game plan at the start wasn’t quite working,” the 26-year-old confessed.
“It took me a bit of time to figure that out….I had to be a bit more aggressive than I was at the start, the court wasn’t doing as much for my shots as I hoped it would be; I had to get him rushing. He’s very good when he’s on the baseline and controlling the points and at the start I was doing too much running, by the end I’d reversed that.”
Both men struggled to hold serve in the blustery conditions but by the end of proceedings it was the Briton who was controlling the largely baseline affair.
A controversial point ensued at 4-4 in the third on Viola's serve. Baker crafted a precision lob which sailed over the Italian’s head and landed at the back of the baseline. Viola believed the ball was long but his protestation fell on deaf ears – the point cost him his service game allowing the Scotsman to serve out the match six points later.
Baker, who was watched on by former GB Davis Cup captain John Lloyd, added: “These tournaments are really tough, everybody in here’s ranked a lot higher than I am so every match is tough. Getting through the first one and getting comfortable…once you do that it sets you up for the next one.
“Today is not the best of days [weather wise] but there’s a good atmosphere, there’s a good buzz around the place. There’s a lot of energy and I got some good support at the end.”
On the neighbouring court fellow Brit Alex Bogdanovic was having a less testing time at the hands off Marek Semjan. Aggressive net play helped the 29-year-old wild card see off his Slovak opponent 7-6, (5), 6-3, however Lewis Burton and Josh Goodall fared less well in their qualifying campaigns.
Popular German Dustin Brown took just 52 minutes to dispose of Burton 6-4, 6-3, while Basingstoke-based Goodall was sent packing by Australia’s Samuel Groth – the man who owns the record for holding the world’s fastest serve (164mph) - 6-4, 7-6 (6) in one hour 18 minutes.