AEGON Championships: James Ward wastes match points in Queen's defeat
James Ward suffered a heart-breaking defeat in the first round of the AEGON Championships in London.
Last Updated: 10/06/13 7:55pm
The world No 215 from London was beaten in three tie-break sets by Ivan Dodig, losing 6-7 (10-8) 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-2) after a marathon two hours and 43 minutes on the show court at Queen's.
Despite failing to serve out for the first set at 6-5, the 26-year-old held his nerve in the tie-break which he won on his fourth set-point - Dodig also had a set point at 7-6 on the Ward serve.
Ward, a semi-finalist in this event two years ago, led 4-1 in the second set when he also failed to capitalise on a brace of match points.
Serving at 5-4, the British wild card led 40-15 before losing four straight points as the Croatian dug himself out of a deep hole.
In the match's second tie-break, the players shared the opening four points before the world No 54 took the match into a decider by winning five of the next six.
Ward also missed a great chance to take control of the final set, after moving into a 3-1 lead.
The Brit served for the match again in the ninth game but, from 30-30, could not quite get across the finishing line.
Once again his 28-year-old opponent recovered to take the match into another tie-break which saw Dodig reel off five straight points en route to clinching his hard-earned triumph on his first match point.
A disappointed Ward said: "He played well on the big points and that was the difference.
"I stuck to the tactics I went out there with. You've got to give credit where credit is due. He made me play, and that's the reason why he's ranked where he is."
Dodig now faces defending champion and compatriot Marin Cilic in round two.