Bloomfield relishes match of a lifetime

“The biggest match of my life” - that's how Richard Bloomfield has billed his first round draw at Wimbledon against one of the game's recent greats, Lleyton Hewitt.

“The biggest match of my life” - that's how Richard Bloomfield has billed his first round draw at Wimbledon against one of the game's recent greats, Lleyton Hewitt.

The Australian may have slipped in the rankings since the heady days of his Wimbledon triumph in 2002 but still represents a formidable opponent for the 24-year old from Norwich.

Bloomfield's form of late has been patchy - he lost 6-2 6-0 last week in the first round at Nottingham to the Swede Jonas Bjorkman - but the world number 190 is hoping he will be able to raise his game for a tie that is likely to be played on one of Wimbledon's show courts, probably on Tuesday.

“I've really got nothing to lose,” said Bloomfield. “Everyone will be expecting him to come out on top. All I can do is try and play at my best throughout and hope that perhaps he's a bit below his best. Hopefully I'll have the crowd on my side and that might make a difference too.

“It would be nice to play on one of the show courts. The last couple of years I've been on the outside ones where you don't really get the big crowds so it would be great to get something like Centre (Court) or Number One. Either way it'll be an experience playing someone like Lleyton whose record says it all.”

The clash against Hewitt will also give Bloomfield the chance to banish memories of his somewhat blighted visit to Wimbledon last year. The current British number four lost in the second round to the number 19 seed Tommy Haas two days after his opening victory over Argentine Carlos Berlocq had been the subject of an inquiry into a betting scandal. Bloomfield was declared blameless but the damage had been done.

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“It did put a dampener on what had been the best victory of my career,” he remembers. “All the headlines afterwards were about that rather than what I had done. I don't really know what happened about it in the end or whether they found out what had occurred. But that's in the past now.”

Doubles specialist James Auckland is still waiting to see who he and Australian partner Stephen Huss will face in the first round, the draw pitting them against a yet to be determined qualifying pair.

However the 26-year old serve and volley expert from Norwich, one of the rising stars of the world doubles game, is confident he can go a step or two further than last year when he reached the third round with former partner Jamie Delgado.

“Steve has got a great previous record at Wimbledon and with the progress I've made over the past year I think we've got a realistic shot of making the latter stages of the tournament,” Auckland told the Eastern Daily Press.

“Last year I was just happy to play some good matches, put in a good performance and get through a round or two. But as you improve and go up the rankings your expectations change and it's nice to go in with an air of confidence that I haven't really had in previous years.”