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World No 180 Ryan Peniston keeps ‘dream’ Queen’s run

QUEEN’S CLUB — Ryan Peniston kept the British flag flying at Queen’s were ended as he withstood a spirited comeback by Francisco Cerundolo to win 6-0 4-6 6-4.

A relative novice on grass whose only previous experience on the surface was Wimbledon qualifying last year and a first-round win here against clay-courter Pedro Martinez, Cerundolo offered virtually nothing as he lost the first set 6-0 in just 21 minutes.

However, the 23-year-old, having lost the first seven games, then won eight of the next 11 to win the second and take control of the deciding set, only for Peniston to break back and bring the match level as it approached the two-hour mark.

Only a top-200 player for the first time last month, this was by far the biggest moment of Peniston’s career to date and he showed fine nerve to save break point and hold serve at 4-4, before taking his very first match point with aplomb to the delight of a 9,000-capacity crowd.

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Queen’s results, day 4

Men’s singles

  • Tommy Paul, United States, def. Stan Wawrinka, Switzerland, 6-1, 6-4.
  • Matteo Berrettini, Italy, def. Denis Kudla, United States, 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4.
  • Ryan Peniston, Great Britain, def. Francisco Cerundolo 6-0 4-6 6-4.

Men’s doubles

  • Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (2), Croatia, def. Filip Polasek, Slovakia, and John Peers, Australia, 4-6, 7-5, 11-9.

Earlier, Stan Wawrinka was blown away by Tommy Paul to bring to an end his first grass-court tournament since 2019, beaten 6-1 6-4 in little more than an hour.

The Swiss three-time grand slam champion is returning from surgery on his left foot last year and at the age of 37, was awarded a wildcard earlier this week to play Wimbledon for a 16th time.

He overcame Frances Tiafoe in the first round over the course of nearly three hours but appeared to run out of steam as he lost in just 66 minutes and won only five games against Paul.

The 25-year-old American is just short of his career-high ranking at No 35 in the world but endured a torrid clay-court season, winning just two of eight matches on what he would call his favorite surface, but appears to have found his feet on the grass.

“I never really had a full grass court season so this will be my first,” Paul said afterwards.

“The clay season didn’t go as planned this year, but maybe I’ll be a grass court player this time next year!”

He added: “If you had asked me two or three years ago, I would have said grass was probably my worst surface.

“But when I started working with my coach Brad [Stine]he told me that grass will end up being my best surface.

“So we’ve really tried to mold my game around that and I feel like very comfortable out there.”

Paul also said he apologized to Tim Henman afterwards, working as part of the TV broadcast team at Queen’s, for his missed volleys; the former British No 1 is one of the American’s favorite players.

Paul’s grass-court game will face its stiffest challenge yet in the quarter-finals when he faces Matteo Berrettini after the defending champion came from behind to beat Denis Kudla.

The 2021 Wimbledon finalist, who also claimed the title in Stuttgart last week beating Andy Murray in the final, suffered the only break of serve of the first two sets in the opener to hand Kudla a set lead, and the American saved set points on his own serve to force a tie-break.

However, Berrettini came through that and then took his third match point after two hours and 47 minutes in 29-degree heat to book his place in the quarter-finals.

“It was a really tough match,” said Berrettini, who had hand surgery earlier this year and required treatment on a callous after the second set.

“We know each other pretty well. We’ve played seven times and every time it’s like a different match. So I’m glad that I’m through.”

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