Wimbledon 2014: Tara Moore misses chance of glory as Vera Zvonareva rallies to win epic tie
Oh Tara, so close and yet … (yes, you can fill in the rest yourselves). This is Wimbledon and Tara Moore is British, so a first-round exit complete with the heroically maddening denouement conforms absolutely to convention, and a little, perhaps, to the wholehearted template set by her mentor, the late Elena Baltacha.
Twice Moore served for the match in the deciding set, failing to convert on each occasion. Then up she stepped to level at seven a piece to stay in it. In the end the set and the match went to Vera Zvonareva in the 16th game, clothing No 2 Court in that oh-so-familiar cloud of disappointment.
There is no shame going down 9-7 in the last to a former world No 2 and the 21-year-old from Doncaster played a full part in a disrupted encounter epic in all its ebbs and flaws. After fighting back to level in the second-set tiebreak the night before, Moore carried that momentum forward to break serve immediately.
The importance of the early incursion could be measured in the number of simulated uppercuts she threw, followed by the obligatory "Come on". She is an inveterate slugger of thin air. There was a double benefit here since each punch was sponsored, raising money for the Rally for Bally charity. "I think we are at £300 so far," she said.
Moore is a tiger about the court. She was feeding off the occasion and was simply inspired, saving a break point in the sixth game with the shot of the day, a rasping forehand that took the paint off the baseline.
She had two break points to lead 5-2 and ease all our nerves. The yearning was huge, but she would have to do it the hard way, and so it was that fate invited her to serve for the match not once, but twice.
Effectively, Moore ran into the deep well of experience and pedigree available to Zvonareva. After falling short in her first shot at glory, Moore broke to love to engineer another crack at the match on serve.
It was not to be. Zvonareva has twice contested Grand Slam finals, her first coming here four years ago. Her ranking at 566 reflects the 12 months lost to injury last year, not her talent. "She played good on the big points. She didn't give me anything. She made me work for everything. But she had to try very hard to beat me. She was No 2 in the world and I pushed her to her limits," Moore said.
"I was nervous out there obviously, playing on a really big court. I am so grateful for the opportunity the All England Club have given me. I hope that I've really showed them that I wanted to be there."
The debate about British failure to produce players in sufficient numbers took an aggressive twist with the observation of an outgoing LTA coach that our youngsters have it too easy.
Julien Hoferlin, the Belgian coach now working with the British No 2, Dan Evans, who lost in the first round to Andrey Kuznetzov, said: "The transition between the juniors and the seniors seems to be very, very bad. There's not an exceptional 'tennis culture' at club level and the players are too spoilt."
Of Evans in particular, Hoferlin said: "He has the potential to make himself a top-60 player, but he makes no sacrifices for his sport. He doesn't understand that tennis has to be his priority. For him, it's just a brief interlude in his life."
Britwatch: State of the nation
A Murray bt B Rola (Sloven) 6-1, 6-1, 6-0 in second round
D Cox lost to J Chardy (Fr) 6-2, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 in first round
K Edmund lost to A Haider-Maurer (Aut) 6-3, 7-6, 6-2 in first round
D Evans lost to A Kuznetsov (Rus) 6-1, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 in first round
J Ward lost to M Youzhny (Rus) 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 in first round
D Smethurst lost to J Isner (US) 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 in first round
H Watson plays A Kerber (Ger) in second round
N Broady lost to C Wozniacki (Den) 6-3, 6-2, in second round
T Moore lost to V Zvonareva (Rus) 6-4, 6-7, 9-7 in first round
J Konta lost to S Peng (China) 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in first round
S Murray lost to M Sharapova (Rus) 6-1 6-0 in first round
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