AEGON Open Nottingham 2017: Former Brit No. 2 knocked out in first qualifying round

James Ward was dealt another blow in the ATP Challenger at Nottingham this afternoon as he was knocked out by Mackenzie McDonald in the first qualifying round as the American won in two sets 6-4, 6-4 on Centre Court at the AEGON Open Nottingham

Could Ward buck the trend?

This was seen as the standout match of the first day of qualifying and Ward was looking to buck the trend on Centre Court at The Nottingham Tennis Centre.

Fellow Brits Lucy Diegman and Freya Christie had already been knocked out before Ward took to the court. Ward is of course one of the most well known British players and was part of Great Britain's Davis Cup winning team in 2015. His best performance at a Grand Slam came in 2015 when he reached the third round of Wimbledon.  

His opponent came in the form of American player McDonald. He is currently ranked No. 227 in the world which is a career high. He began 2017 by winning the singles title at the F1 Los Angeles Pro Futures. He will have been relishing the opportunity of upsetting the home crowd here against Ward. 

McDonald breaks late to take set

Both players took no time in settling into the match and were finding each other very difficult to break. Ward was holding his serve comfortably with a couple of perfect service games in the process.

It was not until the ninth game of the match until the first service game was broken. Ward saved the first break point but could not stop McDonald from taking the game and going 5-4 up with an audacious drop shot. McDonald was then able to hold his serve and take the first set 6-4. 

Ward struggles to break McDonald's serve

The 30-year-old responded in the second set in the worst possible fashion as McDonald immediately broke his serve to go 1-0 up. It was looking an uphill task for Ward as McDonald comfortably held his serve for 2-0.

Ward rarely challenged McDonald's serve. (picture: Getty Images / Jordan Mansfield)
Ward rarely challenged McDonald's serve. (picture: Getty Images / Jordan Mansfield)

Ward did have a good chance to break and make it 2-2 but McDonald saw it out for 3-1. This was not the only opportunity Ward had to get back into it. He had a great chance to make it 4-4 but wasted vital points as McDonald held for 5-3. 

The Brit managed to hold his serve in the next game comfortably, seeing the game out with an ace. However, McDonald knew he was able to serve out the match in the next game. This is exactly what he did as he won the second set 6-4 to win the match 2-0. 

What next for McDonald?

McDonald will face Australian player Alex Bolt in the second round of qualifying after he defeated Brit Edward Corrie in three sets 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 earlier in the day.