Tennis / Wimbledon '93: Foster sets the British standard: Home trio advance to second round: Trevor Haylett reports on a hat-trick of wins for British men in the first round of the singles

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The Independent Online
GLORIOUS sunshine on Midsummer's Day: what better way for Wimbledon to begin. Three British wins will do for starters. There is always at least one, despite the jokes which are everywhere this fortnight.

Mark Petchey and, late in the day, Chris Wilkinson, successfully followed the example of Andrew Foster, who had established the standard with a gutsy 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 success over Thomas Enqvist, a Swede who knows his way round these parts, having once been Wimbledon junior champion.

For a brief moment it looked as if it would be left to Neil Foster to revive English sporting honour as the Essex man delayed the Australians with a dead bat at Lord's. Then, on to Court Five strode his namesake, Andrew.

It was the biggest win of the Stoke-on-Trent man's career, but then they always are here because nowhere else does the spotlight burn so harshly on the home players, nowhere else are the victories so satisfying.

'How do I feel?' asked Foster, a 21-year-old with a hefty serve. 'I can't say because I haven't come down from it yet. To win a match here is something I have always dreamed of. It's just great.'

It felt especially great at match point, a blistering ace confounding the theory that the Brits have a habit of bottling it at the sharp end of the contest.

His joy was unconfined as he drilled the spare ball he carried into the turf and away to the next court, where luckily play had halted. Then came the double-fisted salute we had last seen hoisted in victory by Jeremy Bates on these lawns a year ago. Foster now plays Luis Herrera, the Mexican who had conveniently removed the 15th-seeded Czech, Karel Novacek, from his path.

Petchey was that rare commodity, a Briton expected to win, and he duly conformed, scoring a 6-4, 6-7, 6-1, 6-1 success over Mark Keil, an American qualifier with the disconcerting habit of congratulating his opponents.

'At 4-1 in the fourth he said 'great serving' and I did not think it was a particularly nice comment to come out with at that time,' said Petchey, another Essex man. 'I asked the umpire if it was allowed, because if someone says that you start thinking about it, don't you? I didn't like it, but I don't think he was winding me up. Perhaps he just plays that way.'

Wilkinson, the British No 2, maintained the favourable impression he made at Queen's, where he beat Goran Ivanisevic two weeks ago, with a 6-3, 6-0, 6-2 triumph over Daniel Orsanic, of Argentina.

Earlier it looked as if Lorna Woodroffe, just 16 and with a schoolgirl's toothy grin, would be the first home representative to have her name in lights.

In her first excursion into the senior draw she faced the eldest of the three seeded Maleeva sisters, Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere, the 11th seed from Switzerland. The Briton led 5-2 in the first set before losing the next five games.

An impressive forehand and no little display of spirit kept the Surrey girl in contention in the second set, and it was only unfortunate that she was forced to serve every other game.

Breaking to level at 3-3 and again at 4-4, she was unable to build on that and eventually bowed out 7-5, 6-4 after a debut performance she will remember.

Smiling continuously at her first press conference, she clearly enjoyed the whole experience. 'I was a little bit nervous walking on court to see so many people, but I soon got into the match and forgot about them. You have to be confident. It is no good being nervous.'

(Photograph omitted)

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