Ward takes solace from qualifying wins after early exit

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The Independent Online

James Ward is still searching for his first main-draw victory on the ATP tour outside his home country but the British No 4 still had good reason to feel satisfied yesterday with his work at the Chennai Open in India.

Although Ward, 22, was beaten 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 by Spain's Marcel Granollers, he was delighted to have qualified for the first round after missing the latter part of 2009 with glandular fever. The world No 272, who beat two higher-ranked players in Turkey's Marsel Ilhan (No 155) and Israel's Noam Okun (No 258), had qualified for a main draw on only one previous occasion, at Queen's Club two years ago.

Having begun 2008 at a career-high No 555 in the world rankings, Ward broke into the world's top 200 last year on the strength of steadily improving results, including victory in a clay-court Challenger tournament in Florida. He was on the brink of making Britain's Davis Cup team against Poland in September but had to withdraw after falling ill.

Ward has been working on a part-time basis with Greg Rusedski, while his main coach, the Spaniard Toni Colom, arranged for him to spend time in Majorca last month as Rafael Nadal's hitting partner

Another Briton, Elena Baltacha, also fell at the first hurdle, 6-2, 6-2, to Romania's Ioana Raluca Olaru at the ASB Classic in Auckland.