Richard's ready for tough tie

Norfolk's Richard Bloomfield has his sights firmly focused on causing a shock at today's Nottingham Open when he goes head-to-head with fourth seed Jonas Bjorkman.

Norfolk's Richard Bloomfield has his sights firmly focused on causing a shock at today's Nottingham Open when he goes head-to-head with fourth seed Jonas Bjorkman.

The 24-year-old wildcard entry was left cursing his luck after drawing a seeded player in the first round for his second successive ATP tournament.

The Norwich-born ace, who lost to Robby Ginepri at last week's Artois Championships, is convinced he stands a fighting chance against last year's Wimbledon semi-finalist, Bjorkman, if the sun shines in Nottingham.

"Last year I enjoyed the grass because the sun was out - it makes a big difference to my game," said Bloomfield. "When the conditions are overcast and miserable, it's tough to hit the ball and it makes life difficult on court.


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"But if the sun is out, the ball flies about better so let's hope it's sunny because I know I can push Jonas Bjorkman all the way."

Bjorkman, 35, continues to defy his ageing legs and is a two-time winner in Nottingham - taking the 1998 and 2002 titles.

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And the British No 4 knows he will have to play the best tennis of his career to progress to the second round.

"It'll be a tough ask but I feel I can do it," added Bloomfield. "I've got to play well to stand a chance and make few mistakes.

"I could have had an easier draw. He's seeded four but if the conditions are all right for me, I feel I've got a chance.

"He's a quiet legend in a way. He's won a lot of Grand Slams in the doubles and he has been ranked very highly in the singles.

"He has got a lot of experience but I've got a game plan, which I'll try to stick to. Last week against Ginepri, I hadn't got a plan and that may have cost me. I waited to see how he would play and I think I was a bit too tentative.

"So this week I'm hoping to stick to my game plan and hope for the best - I know I'm capable of winning."

Bloomfield and fellow Brit Jonny Marray were knocked out of the doubles at the first stage yesterday.

After losing a tight first set tie-break against Argentinean Agustin Calleri and Ecuadorian Nicolas Lapentti, the British duo lost the second set 6-1.

Elsewhere, in the doubles, Spixworth's James Auckland was beaten by practice partner Jamie Murray in the opening round.

Murray and Eric Butorac wrapped up the match in straight sets against Auckland and Australian partner Stephen Huss, winning 6-4, 7-6.

Auckland said: "We were happy with how we played but there are definite improvements to be made ahead of Wimbledon.

"My partner has got a good history and I've always played well on grass so between the two of us, we hope to get a lot out of it."

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