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.

Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy
tvCall the Midwife Christmas Special
PROMOTED VIDEO
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.

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there