Tuesday, 4 July 2017 18:28 PM BST
James Ward: First round

James Ward talks to the media after the 4-6, 4-6, 3-6 defeat by Marcos Baghdatis

Q. I guess that was an improvement on Queen's. Never really got into the match. But I suppose you were kind of in the sets here?
JAMES WARD: Yeah, I was definitely in the sets here. Just looked at the stats and there was eight points difference through the match over three sets. Not that much.

We both started off serving really well, didn't really give each other too many chances. And then it was -- the second one or two points in it. That carried on till the second set. Third set was a bit more, a couple of chances, two sniffs at Love-30, one game in the second, one in the third.

Then went big second serve wide. One I had a decent chance on. But yeah, it's tough, you know. It was good level. He's been playing well this year, and definitely on the grass last week making semis in Turkey.

So it was a tough match but definite improvements on only being back four weeks or so.

Q. How long before you think you can say you're firmly back in the groove?
JAMES WARD: I don't know. It's difficult. I didn't expect to be off for as long, and obviously it was gutting. It was nine months. It's difficult. You can't just come back in. I feel like I'm practicing well, training well, and then you get out on the match court and it's different. There is only so much training you can do. You have to be playing matches and over the grass it was difficult.

I played Evo in Surbiton and played Benneteau at Queen's. Pospisil at Eastbourne. So it's some good players on grass. They know what they're doing on grass. Then obviously Marcos here.

I haven't had any guys that you would say are sort of not really grass courters and you can feel your way in, maybe get one or two matches and get a bit of confidence. And I think that's the main thing is when you starting winning a few matches, get a bit of confidence, start feeling a better, more sure about your game. But until then it's definitely tough.

Q. Does it seem like a long road ahead looming?
JAMES WARD: Yeah, look, I have come a long road. There were times I never knew if I was going to play tennis again. I was in the gym every day rehabbing with a physio. And it was tough, because you just don't know when it's going to get better.

You see very small improvements. Sometimes you go backwards. And then now I'm at a stage where I'm not completely 100% pain-free, but I don't know if I ever will be. So that's what I maybe have to live with.

A lot of players play with pain every day anyway of different sorts. It's something I have got to manage. That's why I have a physio with me all the time to help that.

That's the main thing at the moment, just to try and stay healthy and play as many tournaments I can till the end of the year. Maybe set a goal of maybe making Aussie quallies next year and see how it ends up.

Q. Is it just on court when you're in discomfort or does that roll over...
JAMES WARD: A little bit of everything. Sometimes afterwards I play, sometimes when I'm playing it's fine, and then it stiffens up in the evening. It's been a chronic injury for a long time.

So even when I was playing well I had the same sort of pain for four, five years before I started playing.

So it's something that I have been used to for a long time, and something I have dealt with. It just got to the point where it was a bit ridiculous. I couldn't play to a level where I felt like I could compete.

So that's why I went back and took the time off and now it's trying to get back to that level and it's not easy.

Q. Your T-shirt suggests you don't get down for too long.
JAMES WARD: "Work Hard, Play Hard." We'll see about that (smiling).

As I say, I feel like I'm training well. I'm practicing well. It's just getting on to a match court is obviously different, and something I've got to look to do over the summer.

Q. I guess you won't get to as many Arsenal matches next season as...
JAMES WARD: I went to every game last season, which was nice. That was the only plus, I think, of not being able to play.

Q. Some might say it's not a plus.
JAMES WARD: Well, yeah, after last season. I think we signed Lacazette today, which is a touch. We will see if we get Mahrez next, then I might try and get over there as much as possible.

But yes, we'll see what happens. Arsenal is another subject we will leave for another time.