British wildcard Liam Broady claimed the biggest win of his career and the biggest shock of Wimbledon 2023 when he stunned Norwegian fourth seed Casper Ruud 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-3 6-0 in front of a delirious Centre Court crowd on Thursday.
Broady belied his 142nd ranking against a player who has reached three of the last five Grand Slam finals but had struggled at Wimbledon in his three previous appearances.
After four closely-fought, if erratic sets, Ruud, who said he had spent the three weeks since reaching the French Open final relaxing well away from tennis, looked like he had mentally packed his bags again as Broady ripped through the decider to seal a memorable win.
“It’s a pretty terrifying, exhilarating experience, coming out on Centre Court at Wimbledon. It’s been my dream since I was five years old,” Broady said in an on-court interview.
“I said to my mum this morning, she doesn’t like watching, but I said I’ve already won 80,000 pounds this week so she can chill out a bit.”
Apart from the huge difference in the world rankings, there was little between the two in the match – not least in their extraordinarily similar appearance.
Both 6ft (183cm) and of similar build, they sported identical shirts and shorts and both had tie-up white headbands, with only a small logo on the front of Ruud’s giving the eagle-eyed an identity clue.
It meant concentration was needed to watch them as a glance away from the court left fans having to quickly recalibrate who to cheer – and there was plenty of opportunity on both sides.
Broady was into his stride quickly as the Norwegian struggled to adapt to the grass surface he is very unfamiliar with and though the Briton was first to drop serve, he hit back to take the first set.
It was a similar start to the second set as Ruud broke for 3-1, but this time maintained his advantage.
When he went two sets to one up, it seemed the natural order would be resumed, but Broady thought otherwise.
He cut down his errors and produced a run of strong service games to take charge of the fourth, epitomised by serving out to love to force a decider.
Since losing to Novak Djokovic in Paris, Ruud has been clay pigeon shooting, playing golf and soaking up the sun on a boat, hardly the best preparation for the game’s most prestigious tournament.
Broady sensed blood, breaking to love in the opening game of the fifth set and, using his double-fisted backhand to good effect, he came from 40-0 down to break again and served out to love for 4-0 and then wrapped it up at a canter for his first Tour win against a top-10 rival.
Broady was the lowest-ranked player Ruud has lost to but he was sanguine in defeat.
“Of course, ranking-wise it’s an upset, but I consider him a better grass court player than me,” said Ruud, who hadn’t seen a grass court until he was 16.
“His shots are much more effective than mine on grass. He moves probably better. I was slipping a little here and there, losing my balance,” Ruud added.
“It’s just difficult. But I’m going to keep trying. I have a goal to try to do well here at some point. It didn’t happen this year but I honestly love coming here. It’s such a special place.”
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