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Norfolk hope Bloomfield feels power

23 June 2004 08:00

It 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."

Bloomfield 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 the match.

"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 dream."

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