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Safin Ends Brave Ward's Artois Bid

London, England

James Ward will now set his sights on improving his current South African Airways ATP Ranking of 495.© Getty ImagesJames Ward will now set his sights on improving his current South African Airways ATP Ranking of 495.

James Ward’s brave debut at The Artois Championships came to an end after the 22-year-old from London went out in three close sets against former World No. 1 Marat Safin on the opening day at The Queen’s Club.

Ward, who came through qualifying to reach the main draw, went down 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 against the two-time Grand Slam champion in front of a packed Centre Court crowd.

“I knew I could play at that level,” said Ward. “I don't think I played to my best today either. But I'm playing a guy who's won Grand Slams, who has been world No. 1, he knows when to put the pressure on.

“I definitely had chances. Even in the third set, I had him at Love 40 in one game. He produced two big serves again. It was one of those things that went for him today.

Having pushed the former US and Australian Open champion to three sets, Ward now sets his sights on improving his current ATP ranking of 495.

“I need to be traveling to tournaments I want to play,” said Ward. “I need to get out there. And obviously the finances to get to the places I want to go, to play on the surfaces that I want to play, and to pick where I'm most comfortable would be nice from here on into the future.”

Ward’s only previous experience at this level came two years ago when he received a wild card into the clay court tournament in Valencia, courtesy of his connections at the Juan Carlos Ferrero Academy in Spain where he lived and trained for four years before returning to Euston. He remains good friends with the former French Open champion and regularly calls for advice.

“He was a great example,” said Ward of the Spaniard. “Now he's a great friend of mine. So we've grown close over the years. I've seen what a great professional he is, how much it does take to reach the top.”

Ward’s fellow Briton Alex Bogdanovic suffered a 6-3, 6-3 defeat at the hands of Australian qualifier Joseph Sirianni in the first round, while two-time runner-up Sebastien Grosjean booked his place against Andy Murray after defeating qualifier Rik de Voest in straight sets.

Hewitt Makes Impressive Start in Quest for Fifth Title
 
Former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt began his quest for a record fifth title at The Artois Championships with a comfortable 6-4, 6-4 victory over British wild card Josh Goodall on the opening day at The Queen’s Club.

After suffering a surprise defeat at the hands of Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in his opening match a year ago, the former Wimbledon and US Open champion was pleased to make a winning start this time around.

“It's different when you get in your first match on a different surface,” said Hewitt. “That was a good knock because I felt like I served smartly throughout the match, hit my spots well when I needed to. On my returns, I felt like I was putting a lot more pressure on him than he was on my service games.”

Hewitt, seeded No. 11 this year, needed just 72 minutes to overcome the challenge posed by Goodall, the 22-year-old from Basingstoke whose winless streak in ATP matches now extends to seven.

The 27-year-old from Adelaide, making his 11th consecutive appearance at The Queen’s Club, is looking to add to the titles he captured here in 2000-02 and 2006. Another victory this week would see the Australian surpass the record he currently shares with Andy Roddick, John McEnroe and Boris Becker, and he says he is excited to be back at The Artois Championships for another shot at the title.

“I've always thought they're as good a grass [courts] as I've ever played on,” said Hewitt. “Amazing how good a nick they're always in every year we come back here. I've always had a lot of success here, which has been nice, as well.”

For Goodall, who fired 13 aces in his first grass court match of the season, there was plenty to take back to his training base in Sutton. “I was reasonably happy,” said Goodall. “Obviously, my first match on grass this year, against Lleyton Hewitt, one of the top grass court players in the last decade. I was a little bit tentative at the start in a few parts of my game. Other parts, I was really happy, my serve and my volleying. That hasn't been my game style, and that's what I'm trying to work more towards. Overall, I think there were more positives than negatives.”

Elsewhere on the opening day, Croatia’s Mario Ancic overcame Ecuador’s Nicolas Lapentti 7-5, 6-3 to set up a second round meeting with Spanish lefty Fernando Verdasco, who was handed victory when Hyung-Taik Lee retired with a left knee injury midway through the first set.

Meanwhile, Robby Ginepri earned a second round showdown with good friend, countryman and defending champion Roddick after he defeated Vince Spadea 6-4, 7-6(4) to continue the kind of form he showed by reaching the fourth round of the French Open.

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