As has become custom in the current tennis calendar Great Britain is staging an event open to its best home players. The former World #1 doubles player and seven-time Grand Slam winner Jamie Murray and his production company are the brains behind this so-called “Battle of the Brits”. It will be televised on Amazon Prime Sport in the UK and other territories around the world.
As you may expect from the LTA they haven’t messed around with the tennis format too much. The eight singles players are entered into a format familiar to those who follow the ATP Finals. Two groups of four have been drawn, the groups named after recent British tennis “heroes” Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski. Funnily enough, they have also formed part of the Amazon coverage over the past couple of years…
The winner and runner-up in each group will then progress to a semifinal and final. The matches themselves will be best-of-3, tie-break at 6-6 sets like a regular tour event. The courts at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton are hard courts.
The opening day consists of three singles matches. Read our predictions for all matches below.
Kyle Edmund vs James Ward
Previous meetings: Ward 1-0 Edmund
All of the British players will obviously know each other fairly well but there will be a meeting of generations of sorts in a couple of the matches. Ward has been on the British tennis scene for a long time now, hitting a high ranking of 89 in 2015. Since then Edmund surged onto the stage and firmly established himself as a regular ATP Tour player, winning his first title earlier this year in New York.
Their only previous meeting was on clay all the way back in 2013 so this can be deemed irrelevant. It may be simple to think that the fact that there are over 200 world ranking places between the two means that Edmund should win this convincingly. However, there are multiple factors why this won’t necessarily be the case.
The enforced time off means that all players will be rusty to some degree. The increased competitiveness of playing home players on home soil can also not be underestimated. Ward would have seen Edmund coming up as a junior and usurping his place, this is a good opportunity for the experienced man to show that he is still able to play at a high level.
If there are to be surprising results they may well be early on as the top-ranked players feel their way back into form. I will go for a shock Ward win to open the tournament.
Prediction: Ward in 2
Daniel Evans vs Jay Clarke
No previous meetings
The current British #1 kicks off his campaign against another in-form (before the break) Brit in Jay Clarke. Clarke had made the final and semifinal of two recent Challenger events, putting his ranking at #167, close to his #153 peak from 2019.
Evans, however, was beating the likes of Andrey Rublev in Dubai in his last tournament. The run seemed to show that Evans was preparing to take his career to the next level. Again with the competitive edge here that should be enough to take him to the win. It will be interesting to see at what level of fitness the Solihull-born British #1 arrives at the tournament in.
Prediction: Evans in 2
Andy Murray vs Liam Broady
Previous Meetings: Murray 1-0 Broady
This pair met in Wimbledon 2016 and Murray won comfortably. Obviously, a lot has changed since then with Murray experiencing the highs of becoming world #1 but then suffering crippling injury.
The Scot hasn’t played a regular tour match since winning the Antwerp title in October 2019. It remains to be seen whether his hip will be able to hold up, especially for a round robin tournament format.
Broady had a busy 2020 before COVID-19 struck hard. He was making the latter stages of many CHallenger tour events.
I almost expect Broady to win at least a set here. It is still an unknown to everyone how Murray will be physically, but if he is able to retain a good level of fitness then his game should be somewhere close by.
Prediction: Murray in 2
Main Photo from Getty.