Richard Bloomfield reaches third Futures tennis tournament quarter-finals this year
Richard Bloomfield reached the quarter-finals of a Futures tournament for the third time this year at the $15k event in Bath.
The Norfolk man came through two long matches before finally falling to top seed Yannick Mertens of Belgium in close fashion.
It was a match that the in-form Bloomfield may even have won after taking the first set 6-1 with some trademark big serving, but it was not to be as Mertens gradually got a foothold in the second set.
The Belgian, ranked 208 in the world, took the second set tie-break 7-3 before finding a crucial break of serve in the final set to end the hopes of the British number eight.
Bloomfield's recent tournament win in Croatia has seen his ranking improve to 370 in the world and this was enough to earn him the seventh seeding in Bath and a first round draw against Lewis Burton, ranked nearly 300 places below him.
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His young compatriot made a fine effort to level the score after he had fallen a set behind, but Bloomfield showed his experience at Futures level and regained his composure during the decider.
The final score reflected a topsy-turvy match, with the 28-year-old from Alpington winning 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 to set up a second round match up with Marton Fucsovics of Hungary.
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The clash with Fucsovics was a repeat of the semi-final from Bloomfield's recent tournament success in Croatia.
On that day, Fucsovics had thrown in the towel after Bloomfield had claimed the opening set 6-2, but this time it was a much closer affair.
A fine start from the Norfolk number one saw him race to a 6-1 lead, but he was pegged back by a resilient opponent who took the second set 7-5. Bloomfield responded to stamp his authority on the match in the final set; breaking serve midway through the set and taking the decider 6-3 to reach the quarter -finals.
His run was to end in the quarters against Mertens but it has been a fairly encouraging start to the year for the man who has had a number of injury setbacks in the past three years.
Bloomfield improves his world ranking to 370 after the run of results, which takes him back into the top 10 in Great Britain.
More importantly it pushes him nearer the crucial 250 mark which is one of the criteria needed for a wildcard berth into the main draw at Wimbledon.
It is unlikely but achieving that ranking would probably secure a spot in the qualifying event. Bloomfield will also line up as part of the Norfolk men's team that faces the All England Lawn Tennis Club at Wimbledon in an invitational match on March 31.
This is the second year in a row that the team have been invited down to play and, after last year's 6-3 Norfolk victory, the AELTC are likely to field a strong side for the rematch.
Norfolk will be without the services of James Auckland and Tom Spinks for the day but captain Barry Fulcher is likely to field the same line-up that secured promotion in the summer with wins over Warwickshire and East of Scotland on the final two days of county week.