Tennis star Liam Broady hopes to get the better of fellow Brit Marcus Willis when the pair battle it out in Wimbledon qualifying later today.
The Stockport hitter enjoyed the perfect start in his bid to win a place at the All-England Club next week, as he overcame Canadian Frank Dancevic 6-2 6-3 at the Bank of England Sports Centre in Roehampton.
The 23-year-old will face Willis in an all-British tie in the second round on court 11 not before 3pm after the Slough player beat Andrej Martin 7-5 7-5.
And Broady reveals he is relishing the opportunity of playing against his friend, despite doubting his own popularity among the courtside fans watching.
“I think a lot of people will be rooting for Marcus – he’s a loveable guy – so fingers crossed I will break a lot of British hearts,” Broady said.
“It’s never nice playing a friend. It’s never nice playing another Brit. I’m definitely aware of it so I’ll probably be more prepared.
“I’ve played Marcus seven times on the pro tour, so we both know what’s on the other side of the net. He plays well on the grass, he’s a very tricky customer but I’m looking forward to the battle, that’s for sure.
“He’s a fantastic grass player. His game is made for the grass.”
The 23-year-old was thrust into the spotlight at the All-England Club last year when he put up a spirited performance in a straight-sets defeat to Andy Murray at the first round of Wimbledon.
It was the same year when Willis came through a remarkable six rounds of qualifying before being beaten by Roger Federer in the second round.
And Broady – currently ranked 384th in the world – says that his memorable all-British encounter with Murray will hold him in good stead for his meeting with Willis.
“When I played Andy Murray at Wimbledon last year I think the support was pretty even, that was the first time I’ve ever played at Wimbledon and not have every single fan around the court supporting me so that has prepared me a little bit,” he said.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for us both – playing second round wild-card qualifiers.”
Broady and Willis are currently nine and ten respectively in the British rankings, and the pair’s last meeting was on hardcourt at Aegon GB Pro-Series Felixstowe in 2013, where Willis came out on top 6-4, 7-6(4).
Broady, who is currently based at the University of Bath and has been training at the Roehampton centre for the grass season, argues the familiar training setting might boost his chances.
“I think I’ve played on these courts about five or six times now, including the juniors and at Roehampton, so I definitely know it like the back of my hand, or as much as I can really,” he said.
“But it’s the same for Marcus. It’s definitely a dangerous match-up but I’m up to the task.”
Broady will continue his qualifying campaign in the men’s singles, after losing with his doubles partner Ed Corrie 6-3 6-4 to Hugo Nys and Antonio Sancic.
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Image courtesy of Wimbledon via YouTube, with thanks.