South sees off Schiavone on day of British success

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The Independent Online

As if that was not enough to keep a nation's interest in its home hopes ticking over now that Tiger Tim has been Fed-exed, Alan Mackin fought a brave five-set battle against the Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis before eventually heading out.

South, a wild card ranked 305 in the world, overcame a poor start to send Schiavone, the world No 14, packing after a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win. The finale was stirring, played out before a partisan crowd that also included Martina Navratilova. "Was she there?" South asked afterwards. "It's probably a good job I didn't see her."

The key break in the third set came via a rasping backhand that sailed past the Italian. Schiavone became visibly frustrated. South then set up two match points with a breathtaking cross-court forehand and then dispatched her opponent with an ace. Not since Sam Smith beat Conchita Martinez (then world No 7) in three sets in the third round in 1998 has a British woman taken a scalp of similar magnitude in SW19.

South grew up playing tennis at the Wimbledon club, across the road, something she said inspired her to this, the finest win of her career. Her idol as a child was Monica Seles, although she admitted yesterday that, unlike Seles, she does have a tendency to suffer with nerves. How does she deal with them? "I started reading The Da Vinci Code recently. I've got into that." Apparently it helps her to switch her mind off. South was followed into the second round by the 26-year-old Middlesbrough-born Sarah Borwell (ranked at 249) who beat Marta Domachowska, of Poland, (No 66 in the world) 6-3, 6-7, 6-4.

Lee, a former top-100 player who has slipped to No 252 in the world after years of injuries, became the fifth Briton to reach the second round of the men's singles with a straight-sets win over Dick Norman, 6-2, 7-6, 7-6. The 28-year-old London left-hander never looked back after breaking his opponent to love in the opening game. He had been awarded a wild card by the All England Club against the wishes of the new LTA chief executive, Roger Draper, who argued that it rewarded mediocrity. But Lee himself had no qualms yesterday over Draper's "tough love" stance.

"What the LTA have done in the past for me, I would never complain about how much they helped me," he said. "They helped me a lot. In other countries, you wouldn't get a lot of help at all. I would never complain."

Bloomfield's second-round match against Tommy Haas was scheduled to start late yesterday, against a backdrop of potential controversy - not of his making in any way - over his first-round win over Argentina's Carlos Berlocq.

Betfair, the online betting exchange, had reported irregular betting patterns on the game, which are being investigated. The volume of money on the match (£340,000) was not so much the issue as the timing of a surge of money for Bloomfield before it started. The authorities will investigate but a wave of patriotism, or doubt in Berlocq's grass-court credentials, are as likely to be responsible as a professional sting, according to one source.

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