British wildcard and world number 135 Ryan Peniston beats Henri Laaksonen in just three sets on his Wimbledon debut to secure his first ever win at a Grand Slam event
When this grass-court season kicked off, who can honestly say they knew much of Ryan Peniston, his childhood struggles with cancer, and his winding road to tennis’ upper echelons?
When it eventually ends, who knows quite how high this wildcard will have climbed?
It is testament to how the 26-year-old has burst into Britain’s consciousness over recent weeks that progression to the Wimbeldon second round no longer came as some huge surprise.
British wildcard Ryan Peniston beat Henri Laaksonen 6-4 6-3 6-2 on Tuesday morning
Instead expectancy swirled around Court 12 even before Peniston brushed aside Henri Laaksonen 6-4 6-3 6-2.
Never mind that this was his Grand Slam singles debut. Never mind that Peniston had never tasted victory in a major full stop.
Never mind that Switzerland’s Laaksonen is ranked 40 places higher than this left-hander from Essex.
Far tougher tests of Peniston’s progress lie in wait, of course, but the withdrawal of Grigor Dimitrov means it will be American Steve Johnson in round two.
Johnson is 32 and now ranked No 93 in the world. This inspiring story might just go on, you know.
Peniston’s first Wimbledon victory was secured in fine style.
The British’s No 6 and world No 135 wrested control immediately by taking Laaksonen’s first service game.
He kept his nose in front to win it 6-4 before this match swung midway through set two.
At 3-3, Peniston faced three break points – his first all match. The 26-year-old saved them all, and then broke immediately after.
Laaksonen had another chance to break at 5-3. Again Peniston held firm and again the Britain broke immediately after to take it 6-3.
There were more twists to come in set three.
The end seemed nigh when, after five attempts, Peniston broke for 3-1, only for Laaksonen to regain parity in the following game.
Rather than wobble Peniston, that setback only sparked another surge. Three straight games, including two more breaks, saw him take the third 6-2.
Then it was time for the emotion. After remaining calm throughout, Peniston let out a huge roar. Not for the last time this fortnight, you imagine.
More to follow…