Murray's fellow Britons let side down as they all crash out

Perhaps yesterday may turn out to be not just the nadir, but the turning point. Admittedly Anne Keothavong, in squandering a 4-0 lead in the deciding set against Anastasia Rodionova, seemed to reiterate a lack of fortitude and depth in British tennis.

But her dignity and sense of perspective, not least compared with last year, by no means offered the only way to temper contemptuous generalisations about the state of the domestic game.

There was also, it is only fair to say, a most encouraging debut in the main draw from Heather Watson, whose dynamism, pluck and wit provided Romina Sarina Oprandi with a really searching examination before she ultimately succumbed 6-4, 1-6, 6-3. Watson, having soared nearly 100 places in the rankings at Eastbourne last week, confirmed that Laura Robson may not have to develop her career in the same solitude as Andy Murray. Like Robson, Watson has a junior Grand Slam to her name – at Flushing Meadows last year – and even in defeat both have provided some kind of silver lining to Britain's worst-ever start to the tournament.

But the dark clouds were unmistakably condensed in Keothavong's latest Wimbledon humiliation. Somehow she contrived a still more excruciating defeat than the one that prompted a lachrymose departure from her press conference last year. This time, she reserved the choking for the court.

She has now won just twice in 10 appearances here, but reminded critics that she had only recently returned from a second, career-threatening knee operation. "I'm just grateful for being able to do a job I love, that I'm fit and healthy," she said. "Six months ago, I was limping around still. I was working so hard – I was learning to walk properly again."

Nor, equally, did she try to exculpate herself. After exchanging two error-strewn sets, Keothavong had a volatile and vexatious opponent on the ropes. But after Rodionova recovered to 4-3, there was no escaping a sense that a brutally attritional eighth game would prove decisive. For 16 minutes, every anguished point was hammered out like an ingot in the heat of Court 12, the partisan crowd rallying to stem Keothavong's loss of belief. She clawed back half a dozen break points, but the seventh rolled off the net cord into her court and that was that. She forlornly surrendered the last two games and made herself scarce, even as the umpire read a score of 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

While her Australian opponent had ultimately restored a gulf in class, Keothavong did not dissemble. "I think nerves just got the better of me," she said. "I really fought my heart out. [But] she held her nerve better than I did. No one's to blame apart from myself. But there are 64 other players in the same boat as me. I don't think I'll be the only one shedding a few tears."

The wild card, Jamie Baker, followed Keothavong onto the same court but went down in straight sets, 7-6, 6-3, 6-4, to Andreas Beck.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
film
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?