- Aegon International
Tomic sinks Ward in Eastbourne
Wildcard James Ward's Aegon International campaign ended in disappointment after being edged out in straight sets in the first round by Australia's Bernard Tomic.
The British No. 2, who has also been handed a wildcard into the Wimbledon main draw, is a former Eastbourne quarter-finalist but could not find a way to break down Tomic, who prevailed 6-3 6-4 to claim just his second ATP Tour win in the past two months.
World No. 64 Tomic has endured an erratic season to date, with an early title in Sydney followed by injury and controversy woes. The Australian was forced to retire during his first-round match at the French Open with a hamstring strain, making his return at the Aegon Championships last week.
Tomic's first-round loss to Benjamin Becker was overshadowed by the appearance of his father, John Tomic, in the crowd. Tomic Sr, Bernard's coach, had not attended an event since his ATP credentials were suspended after being charged by Spanish police for allegedly assaulting his son's former hitting partner, Thomas Drouet, during the Madrid Masters in May.
Ward had his chances to break early in the match, but it was Tomic who sealed the first game against serve for a 5-3 lead before wrapping up the opening set.
The second was a far tighter affair as both players dominated on serve until again Tomic broke the world No. 216 in the closing stages to leave himself serving for a place in the second round, sealing victory in exactly one hour on his first match point.
Tomic will face Julien Benneteau in the second round after the Frenchman surprised big-serving Kevin Anderson, the No. 5 seed, 7-6(4) 6-2, while Ward's exit leaves Kyle Edmund as the only British interest in the men's singles draw.
Elsewhere, Feliciano Lopez came through an even tighter straight-sets contest to claim his first win in Eastbourne, beating Jarkko Niemenen 7-6(3) 7-6(5). The Spaniard, who retired while trailing Ward in the first round in 2010, will face No. 4 seed Juan Monaco in the second round.
Radek Stepanek eased past Marinko Matosevic 6-3 6-2, while Ivan Dodig and Martin Klizan both moved through to the second round with straight-sets victories.