French Open: James Ward not content with just reaching the main draw
Last Updated: 26/05/14 5:36am
James Ward will break new ground when he takes on Tommy Robredo for a place in the second round of the French Open on Monday.
Wimbledon is the only grand slam where the Londoner has played in the main draw before, and each time courtesy of a wild card.
In Paris, Ward has done it the hard way, winning three qualifying matches at Roland Garros, including 12-10 in the deciding set against Blaz Rola on Friday.
That made Ward the first British man since John Lloyd in 1973 to come through qualifying in the French capital, but going any further will be tough given Robredo is the 17th seed and was a quarter-finalist here last year.
Previously Ward has shown his best form playing for Great Britain in Davis Cup, particularly his five-set victory over American Sam Querrey in February.
The 27-year-old said of his achievement: "It's up there with the Davis Cup wins.
I don't want to stop now. I'm not just happy with getting to the main draw. I feel like I've stepped up this week. Especially before the grass, it's a nice time and hopefully I'll take this form forward for the next few weeks.
"I don't want to stop now. I'm not just happy with getting to the main draw. I feel like I've stepped up this week. Especially before the grass, it's a nice time and hopefully I'll take this form forward for the next few weeks."
Ward saved two match points against Rola in a high-level match, and he does not believe there is too much difference between qualifying and the main draw.
The draw could certainly have been kinder, though, with Robredo a very experienced and wily clay-court campaigner who last year came from two sets down in three consecutive matches.
Ward said: "I think there are 50 players in the draw that all play the same level that we did, or maybe not as good a level. There will be another 50 that will play better than that and there will be another 10 that will play a lot better than that.
"Everyone is fighting. Everyone is playing well. There's a good level of tennis up to 250 really. A lot of the top guys have said it as well."
Andy Murray and Ward have become good friends through Davis Cup and the Wimbledon champion thinks his team-mate can climb well above his current ranking of 168.
Murray, who will play his first match on Tuesday against Andrey Golubev, said: "What he can achieve is really up to him and how much he wants to achieve because, if you look at his results, he's beaten very good players. He has the form in big matches to suggest that he could be a 50, 60, 70 in the world player.
"He wins free points on his serve, which helps in today's game a lot. He has a very, very good backhand cross court, world class maybe. He's just been a bit inconsistent with his results."