|Norfolk hope Bloomfield
23 June 2004 08:00It was the Spanish clay court specialist Manuel Orantes
who once said that grass is great if you are a cow, but not so great
if you are a tennis player.
Like Orantes, Madrid-based
Feliciano Lopez likes clay. But he also likes grass, which was bad
news yesterday for Norfolk's Richard Bloomfield, despatched from the
first round of Wimbledon in straight sets 6-4, 6-2, 7-5.
Make no mistake about it – the 21-year-old from Alpington
was far from outclassed. He simply had no answer to the Lopez serve,
never at any time threatening a break despite the support of a
patriotic crowd and a giant Union Jack blowing in the breeze, high
above Court 13.
"You can't do anything about him serving at
135 miles an hour and hitting the lines – he must have done that 18
times," said Bloomfield. "That's too good. He put a lot of pressure
on my serve, and he was strong enough to make a lot of returns. He
made me play every ball, and that is what the top guys do. They make
you play everything.
"This last year, I have been working
hard. But these guys seem to be getting bigger and bigger. I don't
know whether it is just me, but I can't seem to put on any weight
and build up my strength. Maybe I should just take a month off and
run up hills. Thatwhat Andre Agassi does. He says if you can't make
it up the hill anymore, then it's time to quit."
began well against the 18th seed, holding his opening service game
to love with a repertoire that included an ace and a smash delivered
with all the menace of McEnroe at his angriest. But it couldn't
last, Lopez making the critical break in the third game going on to
see out the first set.
The Spaniard then noticeably upped a
gear breaking Bloomfield again in the opening game of the second set
and then again in the seventh. His movement was elegant, his return
of serve dangerous and he was beginning to find the lines with some
devastating ground strokes.
Faced with a man who had made the
Wimbledon fourth round for the last two years running, the tall
Norwich-born right-hander did his best by chasing for every point,
but it was never going to be enough. Having broken once again in the
third set to lead 6-5, Lopez promptly held his serve to love to take
"Playing in front of a big crowd like that does
inspire you," added Bloomfield, who will now return to the
Challenger tournaments. "That's enough to drive you each day to work
harder, to try and make it into all four Grand Slams and not just
Wimbledon. That's got to be the