The return of Andy Murray to the tennis court was a great thing to see at the Battle of the Brits in the National Tennis Centre yesterday. Though it was bizarre to see the players playing on what looked to be a practice court the quality of the play was surprisingly high.
The group stage continues on Day 2 and provides a look at the final two singles players to make their bows, and possibly the highest-profile match of the entire group stage.
Battle of the Brits Day 2 Predictions
Liam Broady vs James Ward
Previous Meetings: Ward 1-0 Broady
Both players were quite soundly beaten by better players yesterday. Broady managed only four games against Murray and Ward struggled to get a foothold in his match with Kyle Edmund.
Both players generally ply their trade on the Challenger Tour and it is fair to say that both tend to go through peaks and troughs of form. Before the enforced break Broady was the player in better form and the subsequent injury that Ward has suffered may have him half a step slower than he would like.
As a result, we will take the younger man from Stockport to take his first singles victory.
Prediction: Broady in 3
Cameron Norrie vs Ryan Peniston
No previous meetings
Jack Draper was originally scheduled for this match but was a late withdrawal. This is a shame because the youngster is very talented and working his way up through the rankings quickly.
However, the 24-year-old Ryan Peniston has recent victories over both Draper and Liam Broady on his CV. He is currently ranked #394 in the world so there is a substantial gap to the regular ATP player Cam Norrie.
Norrie had an excellent 2018 bursting onto the ATP scene but struggled slightly more in 2019. The Auckland-born left-hander looked sharp in the opening doubles match yesterday though.
There is no doubt that the world #77 is the heavy favourite here and Norrie should oblige with a straight-sets victory to set up qualification from the group.
Prediction: Norrie in 2
Kyle Edmund vs Andy Murray
Previous Meetings: Murray 3-1 Edmund
Two former British #1 players clash here and also the only players in the tournament to have ATP titles to their names. They last played in 2018 when Murray was making his first attempt to come back from his serious hip injury. Edmund defeated a struggling Murray in straight sets, but a few weeks later Murray produced a gutsy three-set win to turn the tables.
For this match, much will depend upon how Murray’s body takes two matches back-to-back. Both players have been working out physically for a long time. Edmund is in great physical shape having added more muscle to his frame, whilst everyone is aware of Murray’s dedication to fitness.
Edmund was far too good for James Ward in his opening singles match showing multiple examples of his powerful forehand. If he can unleash that weapon in the same way against Murray then the 3-time Grand Slam Champion may have problems.
Indeed, Murray himself admitted that Edmund was hitting a “big ball” and that the younger man should be the favourite for this match. The Scot felt that his movement wasn’t excellent and that he felt slightly restricted and rushed by the confines of the court. It was clear to see in his demeanour following yesterday’s match that he wasn’t feeling particularly happy in this stage of his recovery.
However, despite that you cannot count him out of winning this match. The great champions so often find a way, and you can guarantee that Murray will work out a way of denying Edmund from applying his Plan A. It will be a case of how often Edmund will be able to overpower Murray.
This match will be tight and perhaps go the distance. Scenarios like these tend to favour Murray, he has won both three-set matches between the pair. This may well be the outcome again and the one that I favour here. Whoever does emerge victorious will probably assume favouritism for the Battle of the Brits.
Prediction: Murray in 3
Main Photo from Getty.