Liam Broady beat world No. 4 Casper Ruud in five sets to secure the best win of his career at Wimbledon. In doing so, he became the first British man to reach the third round that year.
In typically brave fashion, the 29-year-old had to work hard to recover from two sets from behind but – carried by a lively center court crowd – he clinched a superb result 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 win in three hours and 27 minutes.
Ruud, 24, has reached the last two French Open finals and finished runners-up at the 2022 US Open, but the Dane had no answer to Broady’s mix of flamboyance and courage, the win propelling world No. 142 into the third round For the second time in a row.
Broady may have been unofficially the warm-up event for the home fans ahead of Andy Murray against Stefanos Tsitsipas later on day four, but he immediately showed that this would be no picnic for the fourth-seeded player.
A skillful forehand winner at the second point of the contest signaled his intentions and despite falling out early, the wild card roared back. Three double faults helped Broady win back the first set on serve, but his backhand and flat shot caused all sorts of problems for Ruud. After four games in a row, Broady was in control and clinched the first goal in 46 minutes as the home crowd watched.
It’s no secret that grass is Ruud’s least favorite underground, but the three-time Slam finalist wasn’t ready to turn around without a fight. As in the first set, the Dane managed a break in the fourth game and this time he consolidated it with a service game. Tenacity and determination were synonymous with Broady’s career, however, and Ruud had to complete a nine-minute game that saved five set points before leveling on his debut on the Wimbledon main stage.
The stakes were high in front of a nearly crowded center court but Broady didn’t let the pressure deter him from his flair, underscored by an attempted tweener early in the third set. And as he took a 4-3 lead, the British No.5 displayed a full repertoire of shots, with a drop shot perfect for late-tournament highlights. His serve let him down, however, as two double faults gave Ruud a break before he served to take a two sets to one lead.
Broady had failed to grab two break points during the 10-minute service game that saw Ruud secure the third set, but he used his next opportunity early in the fourth set to take a 2-0 lead. It appeared to affect Ruud’s faith and the physio had to work on his right foot before a 118mph ace forced a crucial set.
Broady, world No. 142, is no stranger to a five-setter at Wimbledon, having won his two games at the All England Club in 2022 after going the distance. In contrast, Ruud had only won twice in four appearances here and his radar remained off as Broady clinched the win in the opening game of the fifth set. A bold serve from Broady followed, but it was better to follow another marathon game that resulted in a double break that was sealed with an overhead smash.
The Stockport left-hander was now in his element and after another break, a big forehand winner secured a bagel in the fifth set and the biggest win of Broady’s nine-year pro career.
In his on-court interview, Broady said: “I would have liked to have played him at home, but Center Court at Wimbledon would do.”
“When I went to bed last night I was thinking about what I would say if I won and now I don’t know what to say! Playing on Wimbledon’s Center Court was quite a terrifying and exciting experience, but it’s been my dream since I was five years old.
“I said to my mum this morning, she doesn’t like to watch, ‘I’ve already gained £80,000 this week’ so she can relax.”