Liam Broady's Wimbledon came to an end on a high yesterday when he was asked to hit with Rafael Nadal as the Spaniard put the finishing touches to his final preparations. It has been an unforgettable fortnight for the 17-year-old, one that has taken him from being the second best player in his own family to becoming cast in a lead role in the future of British tennis.
It could, and perhaps should, have been even better for Broady. In Saturday's boys final, in front of a large Court 1 crowd, he was a set and 4-3 ahead in the second with a break against Luke Saville, his Australian opponent. But Broady lost his serving radar and control of the match against an opponent who is the same age but already has the experience of playing in a Grand Slam junior final. Saville, who lost in the Australian Open earlier this year, held his game together better than the Briton to break back immediately as he won all but two of the match's remaining 11 games.
With Andy Murray having made his anguished exit the previous evening, Broady received a potentially unsettling degree of attention. But one reason for cautious optimism over his future – he aims to play in the US Open, the event Murray announced himself at as a junior – is the comfortable manner in which he has dealt with being in the spotlight. Broady seems a confident individual, who has relished a fleeting taste of success.
"It was a fantastic experience," he said, before being asked about the pressure that attaches itself to any Briton who makes a mark on home turf. Did he feel it? "No, not really," said Broady. "I think it's irrelevant to me, to be honest, because I'm my own player. I just play how I do and get on with it."
He acknowledged his serve as an area of his game that needs to improve. Being a left-hander brings natural advantages and Broady, who has anendearing habit of acknowledging his opponent when he produces a good shot, has a solid looking game, notably being an adept returner. But there are no obvious big weapons and the step from the level at which he is competing with increasing impact to the men's game proper is a daunting one. The spectre of Miles Kasiri, the last Briton to reach the boy's final here in 2004, is a ready-made reminder of the perils that lie ahead.
Kasiri never made the leap and soon drifted out of the game. Heather Watson and Laura Robson both won junior Slam titles and are taking tentative steps into the seniors and Murray has obviously turned his junior promise into something more concrete.
Broady has another year at junior level – he will be back at Wimbledon in 2012, but before that there is the US Open. He said: "It's great motivation, you know, to come back maybe even at the US Open, train harder, get fitter, get stronger, and try and win it next time instead of making the final. Because this doesn't feel good."
Broady, and his sister Naomi, remain outside the ranks of the Lawn Tennis Association – since their father Simon took umbrage at Naomi being disciplined over postings on a social networking site – but his 15 minutes at this Wimbledon should help secure precious extra funding.
There was a home winner at Wimbledon yesterday, and no doubt much to the relief of the LTA it was one of their own. The boys' doubles final featured a Briton on either side and it was George Morgan, an 18-year-old from Bolton, in partnership with the Croat Mate Pavic, who got the better of Oliver Golding, the top-ranked British junior, and Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic in three sets.
Roll of honour
* Men's Singles
Novak Djokovic (Serb) bt Rafael Nadal (Sp)
* Women's Singles
Petra Kvitova (Cz Rep) bt Maria Sharapova (Rus)
* Men's Doubles
Bob Bryan (US) & Mike Bryan (US) bt Robert Lindstedt (Swe) & Horia Tecau (Rom)
* Women's Doubles
Kveta Pesche (Cz Rep) & Katarina Srebotnik (Sloven) bt Sabine Lisicki (Ger) & Samantha Stosur (Aus)
* Mixed Doubles
Jürgen Melzer (Aut) & Iveta Benesova (Cz Rep) bt Mahesh Bhupathi (India) & Elena Vesnina (Rus)
* Boys' Singles
Luke Saville (Aus) bt Liam Broady (GB)
* Girls' Singles
Ashleigh Barty (Aus) bt Irina Khromacheva (Rus)