EletiofeJoe Salisbury and Harriet Dart triumph in deciding Battle...

Joe Salisbury and Harriet Dart triumph in deciding Battle of the Brits clash


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It will be remembered, fondly, as a tennis experiment that delivered more than anyone expected: 60 matches over seven days in the middle of a pandemic that brought together the best available British players to compete for the fun of it – with an edge.

And there are high hopes the Battle of the Brits team event organised by Jamie Murray will become a fixture in the calendar, even when the normal schedule resumes. It would be a shame to waste the feelgood vibe in such troubled times.

Sadly, some were more engaged than others. British No1 Jo Konta decided not to play on Sunday, and said in a curious statement: “With the upcoming schedule and the amount of potential matches, my team and I wanted to manage my time on the match court.”

In the end-of-tournament celebrations, a life-size cutout of the absent Konta appeared – and duly was blown over in the wind, much to the amusement of the other players.

As the week wound to a conclusion in mid-summer sunshine at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton on Sunday, Jodie Burrage (WTA-ranked 289), Emma Raducanu (338) and 18-year-old Anton Matusevich (ATP-ranked 564), whose broad shoulders delivered a lot of heavyweight forehands, bathed in the glow of fresh recognition.

Not that the “old” hands rolled over. After doing a clinical 6-2, 6-1 number on the world No 332 Jan Choinski, Kyle Edmund said: “I felt my rhythm from the start, very relaxed with the conditions. A couple of tricky moments but, once I broke him in the second set, that was it, really.”

Matusevich earned a couple of points for the Union Jacks team by beating Alastair Gray 6-3, 6-2 in the morning; Raducanu, recently voted young female player of the year, got an excellent 6-3, 6-3 win against the experienced Naomi Broady for the British Bulldogs; Harriet Dart gave the Dogs another three points, edging Burrage 6-4, 7-6.

Maia Lumsden defeated Alicia Barnett 6-3, 6-3; Liam Broady red‑lined to beat Ryan Peniston 7-6, 6-3, 12-10; Heather Watson, who has had an excellent week, was too good for Beth Grey, 6-0, 6-2; and British No 1 Dan Evans had to work hard to beat Aidan McHugh, 7-5, 6-2.

Evans, the week’s loudest cheerleader, beamed. “Obviously the teams are random, but you get behind them, don’t you. It’s the same with footballers; they might not want to play at Watford, say, but they go there and get into it. It’s been a great week. That’s the beauty of the event. With all due respect to some of the lower-level players, men and women, they’re getting a chance to get on television, and have Andy [Murray], myself, Jamie and Kyle shouting at them. It’s unique. I’d hope to do it again.”

As the shadows lengthened, Andy Murray and Naomi Broady won their mixed doubles against Edmund and Raducanu, 6-3, 7-6. “Complete luck,” Broady said of a reflex back-spun volley on match point. Murray said: “I thought we served really well. Naomi was unbelievably solid at the net.”

In the deciding mixed doubles match under cloudy skies, Joe Salisbury and Dart outclassed Jamie Murray and Watson 6-4, 6-2, to seal a 63-56 win for the Dogs.

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