The American Mardy Fish narrowly beat British wildcard James Ward in the second round at Wimbledon on Thursday. Fish is seeded tenth in the tournament, though has had his own troubles this year, most notably suffering a health scare earlier this year which meant he needed a heart operation a couple of months ago. Having made a remarkably quick comeback from this, he faced Ward in his third match since the procedure, and understandably wasn’t at his best, eventually coming through to win 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3 in over four hours of play.

Ward is currently ranked 173rd in the world but at times looked as though he might have been the player to secure a place in the third round of Wimbledon, even against an opponent sitting around 160 places above him in the rankings. His first serve looked impressive throughout the match and gave Fish problems, but more impressively his groundstrokes were consistent enough to challenge Fish even in the longer rallies.

Encouragingly, Ward still seemed disappointed after the match even though it would be easy to be perfectly satisfied with a second round appearance and a narrow defeat to a high seed and hopefully this means he feels he is able to come up with these performances on a regular basis. “It was a long match,” said Ward. “Ups and downs. But, you know, I tried to give myself the best chance. In the end, he was just a little bit better than me. He played well and so did I. It was a long match but sometimes it don’t go your way. He’s a top player for a reason, and he came up with some big points at the right times.”

Fish will be pleased to get through to the third round so soon after his time out of the sport, and faces the up and coming Belgian David Goffin in the next round. This will be a tougher challenge and the American must be in better shape physically if he is to continue to progress.