Wimbledon 2013: Elena Baltacha's lunchtime exit sets gory tone for Brits
No homegrown player advanced to the second round on day one
It was a familiar scene on the killing fields of Wimbledon, the best of the rest of British tennis gored in the afternoon. Elena Baltacha was gone by lunchtime, a straight sets victim of Flavia Pennetta's relentless excellence. Following her into the No 3 Court abattoir was Kyle Edmund, sliced and diced by Jerzy Janowicz.
By the time James Ward had claimed Britain's first set of the tournament shortly after 5pm, to be followed by Andy Murray, all four previous entrants had been routed.
Edmund is at the other end of the rainbow to Baltacha, negotiating this "Britons at Wimbledon" thing for the first time. There was no shame in the 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 defeat. Here was a Grand Slam-winning junior immersed for the first time in the main draw of a major tournament and not surprisingly was left gulping for air. Edmund might have the right stuff but we are some way yet from losing our attachment to the notion that the annual summer pageant in SW19 is anything other than a one-man show from the British point of view.
At this level the ball comes back a little quicker and with greater variety, cruelly stretching the bandwidth of experience. And so it was for Edmund, who was operating under unfamiliar pressure early on despite a brisk start. He claimed the first game of the match and took Janowicz to deuce on his service game, but once he was broken in the fifth the contest fell inexorably into a negative rhythm as far as he was concerned.
Janowicz, the 24th seed, is the kind of practised campaigner who was always going to work Edmund mercilessly. To him the novice Brit was easy meat, a tasty loosener to get him into the tournament. This was only Edmund's third tour event. His first was at Queen's a fortnight ago, his second at Eastbourne, where he recorded a win.
At courtside Greg Rusedski, the LTA's man responsible for easing the passage of our youngsters on to the tour, made copious notes. Hit harder, move faster, dig deeper might have been the thrust of it. "It was a tough experience," Edmund said. "He's so powerful, a big guy. His serve, if you got back, then his forehand, his backhand was coming over hard. If you do have time on the ball you have to take advantage of that because it doesn't happen often."
This is Baltacha's second coming after quietly retiring post Olympics following a foot injury and does not suggest greater returns than her first. In her own mind, of course, the future is replete with promise. "I've still got another three or four years. We'll see what happens. I think from having surgery, not quite knowing what was going to happen, I'm pretty happy with that. If someone had said nine weeks ago, winning Nottingham, winning a round at Eastbourne, Judy [Murray] is going to select you for Fed Cup, I would have said, I'll take that, definitely."
Just as Baltacha had done, Samantha Murray and Johanna Konta gave everything against players expected to beat them. Murray, ranked 232, went out to Camila Giorgi of Italy, 6-3, 6-4. Konta, ranked 137 in the world, was up against 16th seed Jelena Jankovic. The points were tight but decided in the favour of the better, more experienced player, 6-2, 7-5. On No 12 Court, Ward took the first set on a tie break against Lu Yen-hsun, who at 74 is ranked 141 places higher but the man from Taiwan claimed the next three and will next face Andy Murray.
To round off a dismal day for Britain, on Centre Court Anne Keothavong lost 6-4, 6-0 to the Spanish world No 59 Garbine Muguruza late on.
Britwatch: How home hopes are faring
Bt Benjamin Becker (Ger) 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 in first round
James Ward OUT
Lost to Lu Yen-hsun (Taiw) 7-6, 6-4, 7-6, 7-6 in the first round
Kyle Edmund OUT
Lost to Jerzy Janowicz (Pol) 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 in the first round
Plays Maria Kirilenko (Rus) in the first round on Tuesday
Plays Madison Keys (US) in the first round on Tuesday
Plays Kaia Kanepi (Est) in the first round on Tuesday
Anne Keothavong OUT
Lost to Garbine Muguruza (Sp) 6-4, 6-0 in the first round
Johanna Konta OUT
Lost to Jelena Jankovic (Serb) 6-2, 7-5 in the first round
Elena Baltacha OUT
Lost to Flavia Pennetta (It) 6-4, 6-1 in the first round
Samantha Murray OUT
Lost to Camila Giorgi (It) 6-3, 6-4 in the first round
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