Less than a week away from the first serve of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships and British wildcards appear to be rising to the occasion ahead of the Grand Slam at the All England Club.
Fresh off a promising quarter-final run at pre-Wimbledon classic Queen’s, 26-year-old Ryan Peniston is becoming a player to keep an eye on.
In last week’s west London grass court tournament, he caused a major upset with a straight-sets win over French Open finalist Casper Ruud.
Ruud may not see grass as his strongest surface but his 7-6 7-6 loss to the Brit nonetheless came as a big surprise.
Peniston’s win snuck him into the top 150 of men’s players and, having already received a wildcard for the SW19 Slam, he yesterday continued his fine run at Eastbourne.
Seen as the premier tournament for women prior to Wimbledon, the men’s draw on the Sussex coast tends to be a little more open.
Peniston, however, who is from fellow coastal town Southend-on-Sea, beat the eighth seed, Denmark’s Holger Rune 4-6 7-6 6-1.
The win continued Peniston’s run ahead of Friday’s Wimbledon draw – where as a wildcard he’s likely to face a seeded player.
“Since Queen’s it has been madness. A couple of weeks ago was a lot different and things have changed,” he said after the impressive result.
“But I’m loving it.”
In this year’s grass court season he has won seven of his 10 matches – including a deciding-set win over fellow Brit Jack Draper.
Peniston remains an unknown to many but with his current form and continued habit of beating the favourite, he may be one to avoid in the opening round next week.
Elsewhere at Eastbourne Katie Boulter achieved arguably the biggest win of her career.
In her three-set 1-6 6-4 6-4 win over Karolina Pliskova, Boulter not only beat last year’s Wimbledon finalist but claimed her first ever top-10 scalp.
Renowned for one of the best serves in the game, Plisokva blew Boulter away in the opening set but the Brit missed break chances throughout.
Thereafter Boulter found her form and completed the landmark win.
“I’m super proud of myself today,” said Boulter, 25, after the win.
“I worked so hard today to battle and fight. Against a player like that, it means so much to come through.”
She had a good showing at the grass court tournament in Birmingham, too, where she reached the quarter-finals stage before losing 6-4 6-1 in straight sets to Simona Halep – she had beaten seeded Alison Riske in the round of 32, however,
Boulter, who has been plagued with injury throughout her career, reached round two of the Championships last year – which equalled her Slam best – and this year will be a wildcard in the women’s draw alongside the likes of Serena Williams.
Both Peniston and Boulter impressed in the south east yesterday and there’s no better time to be ramping up a series of good performances with Wimbledon on the horizon.
With Draper and Harriet Dart among others to find form on grass this year, there is justifiable hope that the supporting cast can give British favourites a run for their money this month..