Top 10: Brits in the second week of Wimbledon

Jul 7, 2015, 2:43:20 PM

In the last 47 years, only 10 subjects of Her Most Gracious Majesty managed to reach the round of 16 in London. This round figure was well worth a top.

Despite all the efforts of James Ward, only defeated 8/6 in the fifth set of the third round, Andy Murray is once again the only British player qualified in the second week of Wimbledon. A sad and consistent failure for local players on their own and (not so) dear grass since, from the beginning of the Open era in 1968, or 47 years, only 10 subjects of Her Most Gracious Majesty managed to reach the knockout stages of the London tournament. Between the safe bets of their time, flashes in the pan and genuine champions, this round figure was worth a top.


Mark Cox

A very good player in his time, one of the few amateurs that were able to quickly get on level when tennis became Open and professionals returned in Grand Slam tournaments, from the spring of 1968. From Wimbledon that year, Cox advanced to the fourth round, resisting two sets to the world No. 1 Rod Laver (9/7 5/7 6/2 6/0). With a great longevity - first Wimbledon in 1962, at 19, and last in 1981 at 38 - he made it to the round of 16 again in 1977 (defeated on a knife edge by the American Billy Martin in a heart-breaking match for the whole country 3/6 6/3 6/4 0/6 9/7) and in 1979 when time had taken its toll against Jimmy Connors (6/2 6/1 6/1).


Roger Taylor

The Tim Henman of his time: always well ranked, never winner. Multiple semi-finalist in Grand Slams (four semi-finals, including three at Wimbledon in 1967, 1970 and 1973) and having reached at least once the quarterfinals of all the four major tournaments, he touched his glass ceiling in the rounds preceding the final show. Yet he passed very close in 1967, the last year the tournament was closed to professional players, but lost in five sets against the German Wilhelm Bungert (6/4 6/8 2/6 6/4 6/4). If he couldn't do much against Ken Rosewall in 1970, he had big regrets in 1973, when 13 of the 16 world's best were boycotting the tournament to support Nikki Pilic, suspended from international competition by the ITF after turning down a selection in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas. But he left too much energy in his quarterfinal against a young Swedish hope called Björn Borg (6/1 6/8 3/6 6/3 7/5) and paid the price in the semi-finals against Jan Kodes (8/9 9/7 5/7 6/4 7/5).


John Feaver

The boycott of 1973 still allowed our Most Gracious Majesty to place two representatives in the second week of Wimbledon since, besides Taylor, John Feaver jumped at the chance to take a step forward: he won a marathon match in the first round against the American Eugene Scott (8/9 6/3 6/8 6/4 6/4), and then defeated two lucky losers, the Australian Cliff Letcher and the American Pancho Walthall. The Soviet Alex Metreveli, future finalist, put an end to the joke in the 4th round: In 13 participations at Wimbledon between 1971 and 1984, the only time John Feaver ever made it beyond the second round.


Graham Stilwell

Graham Stilwell was already 30 and had played 10 Wimbledon when, in 1975, he finally reached the round of 16 of his home Grand Slam. It was almost an epic since he went through the qualifying rounds in which he managed to get back a two sets gap against a young New Zealander who would later play the final of the event, Chris Lewis (3/6 2/6 6/1 6/4 7/5). In the final table, he benefited from the early elimination of John Alexander, No. 10 in the table, and arrived in the 4th round without meeting any top seed. He then lost with honours against the future winner of the tournament, Arthur Ashe (6/2 5/7 6/4 6/2). Six years earlier, in the third round, he even almost defeated the American champion (6/2 1/6 6/2 13/15 12/10).


Buster Christopher Mottram

A rare (unique?) specimen Of Briton more comfortable on clay than on grass. Winner of Roland Garros in junior in 1972, he reached the fourth round in Paris in 1977 and until Andy Murray came to dust all this in the spring, he remained the last Brit to win a title on European clay (Palma de Mallorca in 1976). Despite this strong preference for ochre, "Buster" Mottram also managed to reach the last 16 once at Wimbledon, in 1982, by defeating Anders Järryd and Victor Amaya, before losing to the young Tim Mayotte.


Jeremy Bates

The best British player between the years Cox-Mottram-Lloyd (who never managed to pass the third round in London) and the rise of Tim Henman and the naturalization of Greg Rusedski. Jeremy Bates played the 4th round of Wimbledon twice, defeated each time by Guy Forget: in 1992, after surprising Michael Chang in the first round he pushed the French to five sets (6/7 6/4 3/6 7/6 6/2); in 1994 however, there wasn't actually match between the two men. Two fourth round in singles and one title in mixed doubles (1987). At the end of the day, it might not be much, but it was enough to guarantee Jeremy Bates his regular quota of wild card in the various tournaments of the Senior Tour organized these days in Britain.


Andrew Foster

In 1993, Andrew Foster was 21 years old. He was ranked 332nd in the ATP and the weakness of the British pool was such that this ranking of (good) Futures player allowed him to be invited by the organizing committee of the All England Club. In the first round, he caused a stir against the 1991 junior world champion, Thomas Enqvist, 71st in the ATP ranking (4/6 6/3 6/2 3/6 6/3). Behind, Luis Herrera opened the table by eliminating Karel Novacek, seeded No. 15. Foster defeated the Mexican (6/4 6/3 6/4) and then took advantage of Andrei Olhovskiy’s withdrawal in the third round (6/3 6-5ab.). His lucky star took him to the second week... and couldn't help him anymore against Pete Sampras, launched at full speed towards the first of his seven Wimbledon (6/1 6/2 7/6). As for Andrew Foster, he would never exceed the 184th place in the world, after winning a fourth and final match on the main tour in 1994 in Sydney.


Greg Rusedski 

Canadian naturalized British in 1995, Greg Rusedski arrived at a time when the perfidious Albion was desperate of its national team. Good timing for the one who reached the fourth round in London from his first Grand Slam with a British passport in 1995? Not so much: a year later, the emergence of Tim Henman would steal his spotlight and condemn him to the role of second fiddle in English hearts. Still, the big lefty server managed some good performances at Wimbledon with five fourth round (1995, 1997, 1999, 2001 and 2002) for one quarterfinal in 1997, year when he was also a finalist at the US Open. Over the years, his specialty became to shut down young wolves with long teeth: Mark Philippoussis in 1997, Magnus Norman in 1999 Juan Carlos Ferrero in 2001 and Andy Roddick in 2002.


Tim Henman

The regularity of the greats... Who miss the little something that makes true champions. From 1996 to 2004 Tim Henman has always reached the second week at Wimbledon. A constant over almost a decade only equalled by the greatest, Sampras, Federer or Connors. But unlike them, "Gentleman Tim" has never been able to win a title. In four semi-finals, he tripped over the champion "Pistol Pete" twice (1998, 1999), once over the world number 1 at the time and eventual winner Lleyton Hewitt (2002) and once over history in motion: that of Goran Ivanisevic, 125th in the world, saved by the rain while he was drifting after the equalization of Henman at one set all. That year, in 2001, the last pure serve-and-volley player of the world Top 5 came within two points of the final (7/5 6/7 0/6 7/6 6/3). Without title, he however bequeathed to posterity the "Henman Hill", nickname of the promontory where fans without tickets for the Centre Court were following his matches on a giant screen.


Andy Murray

So it took Scotland to help the British Isles to finally regain possession of "their" Centre Court. Andy Murray is a champion of a different kind than his nine compatriots mentioned above. The rarity amongst most of the others is nothing more than a bare minimum for him, since he has lost only once before the round of 16 in ten appearances at Wimbledon: it was for his debut in the tournament, in 2005. He had then lost in in the third round against David Nalbandian, having first led two sets to none. The birth of a future champion, successor of Fred Perry in 2013, after a 77-year wait.


By Guillaume Willecoq