Fans denied good look at British duo

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The Independent Online

There were no reports of rioting in the Famille Artois Marquee or of lynch mobs roaming the boxholders' hospitality area, but spectators here might have had reason to feel a little hard done by yesterday.

The Centre Court crowd at the Artois Championships were looking forward to a programme that began with Dan Evans, one of Britain's most promising juniors, facing Belgium's Xavier Malisse and continued with Andy Murray, the world No 11, playing France's Sébastien Grosjean. However, anyone who lingered too long over post-lunch coffee might have missed both. Evans lasted only 49 minutes, losing 6-1, 6-1, while Murray led 2-0 when Grosjean retired with a thigh injury after just 15 minutes. Evans received £2,734 as a first-round loser, while Murray, having had a first-round bye, earned £7,890 – at more than £500 a minute – for reaching the third round.

Although Evans was out-classed, the 18-year-old said he had enjoyed the experience on the big stage and hoped it would stand him in good stead. Murray, who will now play Ernests Gulbis or Andreas Seppi, regretted not having more time to find his feet on grass, but at least he is enjoying court time in the doubles. Murray and Daniel Vallverdu beat Richard Gasquet and Nicolas Mahut in the first round and now face Jonas Bjorkman and Kevin Ullyett.

Richard Bloomfield, the third Briton on court, hung around for an hour and a half before losing to the world No 15 Fernando Gonzalez. Bloomfield, who has fallen from a career-high world ranking of No 176 to 412 in just over a year, lost 7-6, 6-3 but did not drop his serve until the penultimate game and led 4-1 in the tie-break.

The 25-year-old from Norwich was probably hoping for a wild card when Wimbledon opens in 12 days' time, but when the All England Club announced its initial list yesterday it stuck to the wishes of the Lawn Tennis Association, which wants only players ranked in the world's top 250 to be rewarded.

Andy Murray and Anne Keothavong, who recently broke into the world's top 100, automatically win places in the main draw, while wild cards have been given only to the other Britons meeting the LTA's criterion: Alex Bogdanovic (world No 243) and Jamie Baker (250) and four women, Katie O'Brien (104), Elena Baltacha (144), Mel South (154) and Naomi Cavaday (196).