07242017

British world number 855 Ward reaches Wimbledon

Alex Ward reaches Wimbledon

Ward reached a career-high ranking of 242 in June 2016

World number 855 Alex Ward became the only British player to come through Wimbledon singles qualifying by securing a stunning win over Russia’s Teymuraz Gabashvili.

Ward, 27, won 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 7-6 (8-6) 6-1 in the third and final round of qualifying in Roehampton.

He was given a wildcard to play in qualifying and had lost his previous seven matches before this week.

Fellow Britons Marcus Willis and Jay Clarke went out in the final round.

Ward, from Northampton, will take his place in the main draw at Wimbledon for only the second time, having received a wildcard 12 months ago.

Willis, 26, became the early story of last year’s Wimbledon by coming through six matches in pre-qualifying and qualifying, and then the first-round proper, before losing to Roger Federer on Centre Court.

Ward has taken an even more unlikely route having lost in the final round of pre-qualifying, only to be handed a wildcard into the Wimbledon qualifying event.

He had lost all four previous matches in Wimbledon qualifying.

“It just feels amazing, I’m still struggling to get my head around it,” said Ward, who slipped down the rankings from 242 last year after having six months off with a wrist injury.

“It will mean everything [to return to Wimbledon], especially having qualified. I feel like I really deserve my place there.”

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