Dustin Brown digs deep to set up clash with Nick Kyrgios

Dustin Brown thrilled Wimbledon’s fans once again yesterday and is now looking forward to putting on a show against good friend Nick Kyrgios.
Dustin Brown digs deep to set up clash with Nick Kyrgios

The two men - both natural entertainers on the court - grew close at the International Premier Tennis League when they played for the Singapore Slammers.

They are due to be reunited in round two tomorrow, albeit on different sides of the net, after Brown saw off Dusan Lajovic in five sets and Kyrgios beat Radek Stepanek.

“We played IPTL together, he’s a really nice guy,” Brown said. “We are friends. We will go out and have fun and play good tennis. Besides that, I won’t worry too much about it.”

The dreadlocked German won Wimbledon hearts in 2015 when he unseated the great Rafael Nadal, with his story of how he had travelled around European tournaments in a camper van earning him column inches and plenty of support. Previously he beat Kyrgios’ compatriot, Lleyton Hewitt, in 2013 and is no stranger to causing an upset.

Brown is back in SW19 on a wildcard - he is still ranked just 85th in the world - but looked to be going home as he went two sets to one down against Lajovic.

However, the man nicknamed ‘Dreddy’ delighted the Court 16 crowd by mounting a fine comeback and took the match 4-6 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4 to book a second-round spot.

“I concentrate and try and give my best, try to not worry too much about my opponents,” Brown added.

Joining Brown and Kygrios in the next phase is Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Frenchman, twice a Wimbledon semi-finalist, beat Spain’s Inigo Cervantes 6-4 7-6 (7/5) 6-4 on Court 12.

Other winners on day two included Richard Gasquet, over Brit Aljaz Bedene, along with Viktor Troicki, Yen-Hsun Lu, Juan Monaco and Marcel Granollers. There was little to concern British number one Andy Murray as he kicked off his run at the title against Englishman Liam Broady.

Murray was too good for the 22-year-old in every department and won 6-2 6-3 6-4.

“I served pretty well. Offensively I thought I did some good stuff. Maybe defensively I could have done a little bit better,” Murray said.

“But the first match is always tricky. Obviously Liam... we’ve never played each before although we’ve practised a lot and it’s not that easy playing someone you know so well, but I did okay.”

The world number four, Stan Wawinka, is also through, beating the highly-rated American Taylor Fritz.

Eighteen-year-old Fritz is clearly a mature individual - he is already engaged to be married - and can look back on his show with great pride, taking a set as the Swiss won 7-6 (7/4) 6-1 6-7 (7/2) 6-4.

The rain started to fall just after 4.30pm, leaving the likes of Bernard Tomic and Fernando Verdasco (tied at 2-2), and Tomas Berdych (2-1 up on Ivan Dodig) with uncompleted matches. The eighth seed, Dominic Thiem, was three games into his match with Florian Meyer when the heavens opened.

Meanwhile the mum of Britain’s Wimbledon hero Marcus Willis has hailed her son as the Jamie Vardy of tennis and hopes he inspires other players never to give up.

Willis, ranked 772nd in the world, has written one of the most unlikely stories in the prestigious tournament’s history after he beat world number 54 Ricardas Berankis on Monday to book a dream showdown with Roger Federer.

The 25-year-old has admitted he used to prefer partying to practice and he almost gave up professional tennis earlier this year to coach in America.

But, persuaded to keep faith by his girlfriend Jenny, Willis will now pocket £50,000 for reaching round two at the All England Club. His previous earnings this year amounted to $292. Willis’ mum Cathy, a teacher in Wokingham, was among a packed-out crowd watching her son’s victory on Court 17 and she hopes his rise shows other players that anything is possible.

“I always told him, ‘I think you can do it’ and now he’s a bit older he’s got the break he needed - he’s like the Jamie Vardy of tennis isn’t he? He certainly likes a party,”

Cathy said. “I would totally have understood if he had wanted to do something else, if he’d been a dustman I would have been proud of him.

“I just hope he can inspire other people to keep fighting and keep dreaming the dream because he’s shown it can happen.”

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