Andy Murray Edges Win; Scotland's Got Talent for Wimbledon
This week's Aegon Classic in Birmingham provides the first real glimpse of British talent ahead of Wimbledon.
By the end of it, we will have a greater grasp on the potential that our homegrown players possess ahead of SW19. We will know who is capable of smashing through multiple rounds, and who is able to provide us with aspirations for glory.
In recent years, the men's game has had the likes of Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski.
Now Scottish born player Andy Murray has taken the role of the accomplished Brit. We have been witnesses to his triumphs on the tour, and now we expect him to claim a Grand Slam in the future.
In the women's game it's all been about one player: Elena Baltacha. Despite never getting further than the third round, she has shown on numerous occasions the ability to produce solid tennis against seeded players.
Until Laura Robson and Heather Watson come into the professional game full-time, she is streets ahead of other British players in the ability to shine in Grand Slam tournaments.
With a series of consecutive first round exits in Birmingham for the likes of Alex Bogdanovic in the men's, and Melanie South and Katie O’Brien in the women's draw, Murray and Baltacha look the most formidable opponents to take on the rest of the world.
Forget Great Britain as the nation then; it’s all about Scotland.
Murray struggled somewhat in today's match against Ivan Navarro. After rebounding from a continuous knee injury, he is still on the road to recovery, in search of more impressive form.
Today he seemed erratic. Throughout today's match it felt as though he was learning how to walk and talk all over again.
Some impressive volleys were balanced out with some poor shot choices that let his opponent keep a constant eye on the game. Murray’s class showed in the end, but his unease at certain moments will no doubt send a worrying tremor through the LTA.
Baltacha will now play her first round match tomorrow after a rain hit day in Birmingham meant it was too late to start her tie against Estonian player Kaia Kanepi.
The Ukrainian born Brit, like Murray, is also on the trail of recovery following back problems and a heat-stroke related illness which she sustained during her triumph at last week's Aegon Trophy in Nottingham.
Baltacha has had a belter of a year. Her ranking vastly improved, leaving her on the brink of a top 50 position. If she were to follow some highly promising results this season, then she could fulfill a lifelong ambition of becoming a seeded player.
She has already accomplished some beautiful wins this season, most notably her defeats of both Bondarenko sisters at Grand Slam tournaments.
Her biggest challenge remains the same: She needs to avoid choking at the biggest moments.
Too many times the Brit has created optimistic headlines by beating players seemingly beyond her depth. These become carelessly undone with a disastrous result in the following round.
If this year she can defeat a talented player and continue her electric form, then she may go further than ever before.
Her goal must surely be to achieve a debut fourth round berth in a Grand Slam. This is definitely not beyond her reach if the draw is kind and favourable to her.
There is little doubt, though, that she will still be buoyed by her successful defeat of Top 10 player Na Li in Indian Wells earlier this year.
Nonetheless, it would remain a travesty and possible nightmare if she were drawn against a Top 10 seed in the first round. This has happened before, and 99 percent of the time would result in a wasted opportunity.
Anne Keothovong could be a third wheel in the preparations for Wimbledon, yet her previous form in major events dictates that she will probably bow in the early rounds once more.
So our hopes are held most within the Scottish duo.
Murray will need to resuscitate his electrifying form in the build-up to Wimbledon. He has the chance to do this in his defence in Birmingham.
If successful then we know he will be able to recreate the form that has allowed him to acquire at least a quarterfinal position in the past.
Baltacha has a lot to prove, even despite her glorious year. She can emerge triumphant in her intentions if she applies herself appropriately.
Her ability to perform looks likely to determine whether this year will see our strongest showing at SW19 on both sides of the action for many years.
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