Elena Baltacha yesterday launched a stirring defence of British tennis as she prepared to launch a bid for a place in the third round of Wimbledon. The Kiev-born 25-year-old is the only home survivor in the women's singles, while Andy Murray flies the flag for Britain's men after nine out of 11 players fell at the first hurdle.
Baltacha, who meets Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens in the second round today, insists that Britain's disastrous results at Wimbledon are not a true reflection of the state of the game in this country.
"I'm really chuffed that I'm in the second round and it's a shame that none of the other girls got through," she said. "We all had really tough draws and if you look at their matches, they all lost a tight two sets or a tight three sets. Everyone gets so over-excited during Wimbledon and you've got to look at the bigger picture. It's not about the one week, it's about the whole year. This is one tournament. It is very special, don't get me wrong, and it is great if we can do well here.
"But, if not, you've got to look at what we've been doing throughout the year. All the girls have improved their ranking and there are four or five of us who are nearly top 100 now. We haven't had that for such a long time."
Baltacha, who entered Wimbledon at 106 in the world, has tipped British No 1 Anne Keothavong to bounce back from her straight-sets defeat to Austrian Patricia Mayr. Keothavong, who has endured a disastrous run since being whitewashed by Dinara Safina in the French Open, burst into tears during her post-match press conference on Tuesday.
Baltacha said: "You never like to see your fellow Brits getting upset. But there are so many highs and lows in your career. She did really well a few weeks back on the clay. It's one of these small patches that Anne's gone though and I think she will come out stronger."
Ironically, Baltacha could get the chance to atone for Keothavong's embarrassment, with Safina her likely third-round opponent if she overcomes Flipkens.
"That would be nice but at the moment I just want to concentrate on tomorrow," said Baltacha. "Tomorrow is very winnable for me. I've played her before twice and beaten her twice. But I can't take her for granted because she has just beaten a seed. I know I have to play good but I'm confident. I played a good lead-up to Wimbledon and I feel really confident."Reuse content