Britain’s number seven Ryan Peniston enjoyed a dream debut at Queen’s Club by defeating top seed and world number five Casper Ruud.
Playing in his first main draw on the ATP Tour, the little-known 26-year-old from Southend won two tiebreaks and beat last month’s French Open runners-up 7-6(4) 7-6(2).
It was only the seventh time the Open-era top-seeker has lost a match in the opening round at Queen’s, with Peniston putting Ruud on an illustrious list that also includes Andy Murray, Pete Sampras and Jimmy Connors.
He said: “I can’t really believe it, it feels like a dream. I didn’t sleep much last night, it doesn’t feel real. I played well.
“Obviously Casper is an unreal player, he did so well at the French Open so I knew it was a tough question but you have to go on the pitch and know you have a chance to win – so I did done that.
“It’s a bit surreal, four or five years ago I was sitting over there and watching. It’s a little unreal. I need a bit of time to process it.”
It was the perfect way for Peniston to celebrate the news that he’d been handed a wildcard for Wimbledon.
Admittedly Ruud is a clay specialist who has a pretty low opinion of grass and the Norwegian struggled with his timing throughout and also required treatment on his hip after falling on the baseline.
In contrast, Peniston has been thriving on the turf this year, already having Challenger Tour victories over Jiri Vesely and Adrian Mannarino under his belt when he broke into the top 200 for the first time.
The University of Memphis alumni gained five points in a row on his way to the first set tiebreak shortly after Ruud slipped at set point.
Ruud fell again early in the second but broke Peniston 4-3 for the first time, only for the home hope to hit straight back before finishing the job in another tie-breaker.
At number one, Britain’s Paul Jubb – the lowest player at Queen’s this week at 227 – defeated world No. 29 Botic Van De Zandschulp in three sets by a brave 7-6(5), 4-6, 6: 1 defeat.