Tennis: Bailey is best of British

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The Independent Online
THEY call the Direct Line Insurance Manchester Open the 'Wimbledon of the North' although it takes a marketing man's imagination to see it that way. The gatemen are friendly and the food affordable for a start; the results are different too.

Whereas the All England Club takes on the air of a mortuary as the home casualties are counted, yesterday in Manchester, British tennis was showing the rudest of good health. Jeremy Bates and Chris Wilkinson won their matches but that was just the hors d'oeuvres compared to Chris Bailey's defeat of the top seed, MaliVai Washington from America.

Bailey is ranked No 316 in the world. Washington is 17th and so proficient on grass that the Wimbledon committee upgraded him to their 14th seed. Yesterday, however, the 25-year- old from Norwich, won 7-6 6-2.

The match turned on the first set. Bailey had held his serve comfortably but trailed 5-2 in the tie-break. He responded by winning five points in succession to take the set and launch a demolition of Washington's game in the second.

Bates had to recover from being 3-0 down in the final set before he beat his doubles partner, Zimbabwe's Byron Black, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5. The British No 1 was also given encouragement by Wilkinson, who gained his second surprise in a week when he followed his defeat of Goran Ivanisevic at Queen's with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Javier Frana.