It is a long way from court seven at the Wimbledon qualifying tournament to court No 2 at the All England Club, and yesterday George Bastl, of Switzerland, did not even start to make the journey which gave him a place in history last year.
Bastl was beaten in qualifying last summer, as well, but was called into Wimbledon on the eve of the competition as a lucky loser and from that unlikely base handed out one of the more astonishing results in the championships when he defeated the seven-times winner Pete Sampras on the court which has become known as the graveyard of champions.
"There is no chance of Wimbledon this time," he said after losing, 7-6, 6-3, to the 19-year- old Czech Jan Hajek in the heat of the day. Although Hajek had never played or even practised on grass, Bastl discovered that court seven does not respect reputations either.
Hajek had to save two set points before winning the first set tie-break and in the second set he broke in the eighth game which he started by racing to kill off a drop shot from an increasingly anguished Bastl.
Bastl has a video of his win over Sampras as the only momento of his triumph. "I didn't take any bits of the grass," he said, "or cut the net. The tape gives me great memories, the match was never shown on Swiss TV. I haven't spoken to Pete since. He didn't give me his number."
Chris Lewis, of Neath, was the first British winner. Despite being ranked 551st in the world, he overcame the Russian Andrei Stoliarov, who is ranked 146th, 6-7, 6-1, 6-4. "I had seen him play on TV because he was in the top 100 for a while," said the 21-year-old, who played junior Wimbledon in 2000. "He is quite tricky because he is not very tall and keeps the ball low. But I knew that if I served well, which I did from the second set on, that I could overpower him."
James Auckland, of Norfolk, fell to Australia's Joe Sirianni, 6-4, 7-6. Aged 23, he was treating the qualifying as his first venture into a Grand Slam, having broken his foot on the eve of Wimbledon last year and being kept out of the game for six months. He is now trying to work out his future after Tony Pickard, who gives him coaching advice, told him to pull his socks up. "I hope I can come back next year with a clear head and who I am and where I want to be," said Auckland.
Tom Burn, of Surrey, an unranked wild card, was beaten, 6-4, 6-2, by Potito Starace, of Italy, while the unranked David Sanger, of Dorset, fell in three sets to Spain's Salvadore Navarro, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.Reuse content