What a difference a year makes. This time 12 months ago British wild card Naomi Broady had considered trading in the sport for a career as an au pair. The lady from Stockport was struggling to scratch out a living on the tennis circuit and had begun researching alternative career paths as well as the possibility of living abroad.
But this afternoon her bank balance was looking £43,000 healthier after she ousted Hungary’s Timea Babos 2-6, 7-6(7), 6-0 to book a place in the second round of Wimbledon for the first time in her career.
“I was looking at doing first aid courses, language courses to become an au pair because I couldn’t afford to play tennis,” the 24-year-old declared after the match.
“When I was looking at other things to do it was specifically because I couldn’t fund my tennis. It was, therefore, hindering my tennis and I wasn’t getting the best out of it. So that was really the first time I thought seriously that I was going to have to stop.”
However Broady received a lifeline wild card into the Wimbledon qualifying tournament last year, where she won a round. That victory helped her finance her next few tournaments.
“My wins started coming more, first in the doubles, which paid for my singles. Then I started doing better in my singles, which has now paid for that,” she said.
Monday’s victory over the 21-year-old was perhaps even sweeter given that the Briton had lost to world No.94 twice previously in two tie-break third sets. “I was quite determined not to get another loss today,” she confessed.
On her path to victory Broady served up 17 aces and 35 winners. She plans to celebrate with a new handbag and learn to drive. “That’s going to be my thing now. I’m going to try to pay for my driving lessons."
Elsewhere, compatriot Johanna Konta gave China’s Peng Shuai a run for her money pushing her to three sets before succumbing 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in a match lasting two hours 15 minutes.
The British No. 3, who at 109 is ranked 49 places below Peng, meant business from the moment she stepped on court.
On the other side was the defending ladies’ doubles champion who she had only faced once before, in 2013 on the hard courts of Guangzhou.
On that occasion the Eastbourne resident had only managed to scrape together four games. This time she was out for revenge, and in mild conditions under a sky peppered with clouds, it looked as though she might achieve that feat, breaking 28-year-old Peng to love in the opening game with a string of powerful groundstrokes that would set the tone of the match.
Peng, who has reached the fourth round of the ladies’ singles here on two previous occasions, broke back immediately and there followed an even hard-hitting contest – the tenth game alone lasted an astonishing 15 minutes – and would prove to be the turning point of the opening set.
The Briton continued to go for her shots even though a couple – a volley in the tramlines and a long ball – generated two set points for Peng. The 28-year-old Chinese player eventually converted on her fourth opportunity to clinch the set.
Konta continued with her aggressive style to secure the second set, much to the delight of the partisan spectators, but was broken in the final set.
Ultimately the Sydney-born player's gutsy performance would prove to be her undoing – she generated 32 unforced errors compared to Peng's 17, allowing her Chinese opponent to advance to the second round of the ladies’ singles for the seventh time in her career.
After the match, Konta admitted Peng handled the occasion much better than she did. “I was playing with a little nerves, a lot of tension,” she said. “Obviously when you play like that, you can’t play at your best level.”
20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...
20:03"I already have seven. It's not like I need another one. But it would have been awfully nice to have it. I think that's what the feeling was of the people, and I felt that... I know they love tennis. They love tennis after we're all gone."View all