ATP Nottingham: Malek Jaziri ousts Britain's James Ward in three sets

Malek Jaziri recovered from a double break down in the final set to defeat British hope James Ward in the first round of the Aegon Open in Nottingham.

These two players had met once before prior to this meeting in a Davis Cup tie between Tunisia and Great Britain in 2011. The Brit was victorious on that occasion, winning in five sets 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 8-6. Jaziri was playing in Nottingham for the second consecutive year, reaching the second round in 2015 after a win against Kyle Edmund and defeat to Dominic Thiem. Meanwhile, Ward was looking for his first ATP World Tour win of the season (0-1). The Brit’s best result here at the Aegon Open was a run to the quarterfinals in 2010.

Jaziri races through the first set

A double fault left Jaziri 0-30 down in his opening service game, but the Tunisian was able to respond to capture four points in a row to claim the first game. Ward made a similarly troublesome start on serve, double faulting to leave himself break point down. The British number five saved the point with a forehand winner but then proceeded to hit two more double  faults to hand his opponent the early break.

Ward had further half chances to break the Tunisian's serve in the following game at 15-30 and deuce but failed to capitalize on his opportunities. Two double faults from the Tunisian gave Ward a break back point, which was duly snuffed out by Jaziri with a forehand winner as he held for a 4-1 lead.

The world number 60 hit a stunning backhand down the line winner on the run as he broke the Brit's serve for a second time. The British number five had two break point chances to salvage the set, but the Tunisian fired down an ace and a couple of winners to secure the first set 6-1.

The Brit bounces back

Ward responded in set number two and made the perfect start, finally breaking the Tunisian's serve after a lengthy rally which he finished off with subtle drop shot winner. Ward threw in a couple of double faults in game five, but there was no harm done as the Brit canceled them out with two aces to hold and move 4-1 in front.

The world number 177 had half a chance to secure  the double break at 15-30 and at deuce, but was unable to take advantage. Jaziri held to love in the eighth game to force Ward to serve for it. The British number five was up to the task as he closed out the set 6-3.

Ward was hoping to win his first ATP Tour level match in this encounter. Photo: Getty
Ward was hoping to win his first ATP Tour level match in this encounter. Photo: Getty

Ward's dominance continues in the final set

Ward went from strength to strength as he successfully lobbed the Tunisian to get to break point before outlasting him in the subsequent rally to secure an immediate break. The Brit was then faced with a lengthy service game, during which he faced three break points before coming through to take a 2-0 lead.

The world number 177 hit a superb running forehand cross court winner to get to 30-30 in the third game but was unable to secure the double break on this occasion. Yet in the fifth game Ward took his chance, capitalizing on a double fault and three unforced errors from the Tunisian as the Brit took a 4-1 lead.

The world number 177's level takes a significant dip

The British number five played a very loose service game, with a double fault at 0-40 handing the Tunisian a life line. The world number 117's level significantly dropped as he's dropped serve once again to squander the double break advantage and very quickly found himself 5-4 behind.

The Brit’s meltdown was capped off after another poor service saw him lose the match 6-1, 3-6, 6-4. Jaziri moves on to face 10th seed Pablo Carreno Busta in the second round.