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June 20, 2017

James Ward

London, England


6-2, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Obviously not the result you would have wanted, but how did you feel your level was today?
JAMES WARD: In patches all right, you know. He rushed me throughout the whole match. He returned very well. He served very well. Served to the lines and didn't give me much chance to get into the match early. And obviously if you go down early, it's always tough to regroup and come back.

No, I tried my best and tried to find a way in, but it was only until the last three or four games he started to make a few errors and let me back in. Before that, he was pretty tight on giving anything away.

Q. Do you think this will affect your chance at a wildcard at Wimbledon?
JAMES WARD: Oh, I have no idea.

Q. Did you feel going into this that was your main priority?
JAMES WARD: No. Playing this tournament is always special for me. It's where I have probably played my best tennis in the past as well as Wimbledon, but I'm not going into a match thinking I have to win to get a wildcard or whatever. It's not my focus at the moment.

Look, I have been off for such a long time that each match for me is a bonus at the moment. They're massive tournaments, and I'm just grateful to be a part of them. The same as if I get a wildcard at Wimbledon, that would be great, and hopefully I can get some good practice in and matches in maybe next week at Eastbourne if that's the case and try and be ready for Wimbledon and go again.

Q. Would it be a blow if you didn't get a wildcard, do you think? I mean, where is it standing in your planned path this summer?
JAMES WARD: Well, there is no plan. Obviously I have asked for a wildcard. That would be the ideal, but I know nothing more than you, you know. I think they are having a meeting today. I think we are both in the same boat.

Q. Back after this long injury of yours, how much does that give you a boost, looking ahead, mentally, physically? Just generally how do you feel about coming back and playing again?
JAMES WARD: Great. Look, there were times in the last sort of eight, nine months that I thought I might not be able to play again because I had so much pain in my knee. I had been there before. I had months off before. I'd broken a wrist, glandular fever, had times off, three, four months, six months off before, but you always knew it was fixable. But with the knee we wasn't sure, and that's why probably it took so long.

So look, for me, it's a bonus. I have worked incredibly hard to get back to this point now. As I say, I'm just grateful for these opportunities, and hopefully in the next couple of weeks I will get some more and build on that for the rest of the year. That's really all I can do, you know, is keep putting myself out there, trying and hoping that my level returns and I can play the best tennis I can.

Q. Was there an extra thrill when you actually walked on the court today?
JAMES WARD: Yeah, of course. Look, it's a big tournament and it's at home. You have a lot of friends and family around to watch. It's always a nice feeling, but at the end of the day you're playing a very experienced player and a very good player. That all goes out the window to a certain extent.

It's only when the match gets really close and tight that I think the support can help, but apart from that, you know, he's been around long enough to know what to expect, anyway.

Q. What positive signs do you see in your game today? You thought, ah, yeah, that's me getting back to where I need to be?
JAMES WARD: I mean, towards the end, as I say, I finally sort of got myself going and started to be a little bit clearer in my game plan from the second set onwards.

I served a lot of good first serves, and they just came back at me equally as fast. He hit quite a lot of lines, and it was one of those days like you think, what else can I do? I'm making a big first serve, putting it in a good spot, and he's reading it and returning it to the baseline. There is nothing I can do. Whether I have been playing all year and no problems and ranked 50, I still serve the same and he's going to return the same. As I say, it's one of those. It's not all down to injury.

But, yeah, it's difficult after being off for so long, and to come back and find that level straightaway is definitely not easy to do.

Q. When will you find out about Eastbourne?
JAMES WARD: I don't know. It kind of depends on what happens at Wimbledon. We will wait for that first. If I don't get one, then it will be quallies so I won't be able to play Eastbourne. If I do get one, then I will go and play Eastbourne. That's pretty much the plan.

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