Arthur Fery showed his potential on his Wimbledon debut despite a straight-sets loss to third seed Daniil Medvedev.
The 20-year-old, ranked 391, matched his illustrious opponent in the first set before a rain delay disrupted things and eventually fell to a 7-5 6-4 6-3 loss.
Fery has followed Cameron Norrie’s route to professional tennis by taking a scholarship to a US college – Stanford in his case – and is likely to decide later this year whether to complete his degree or pursue his sporting dreams immediately.
His natural touch and willingness to come to the net make him well suited to grass and he looked at home on Court One straight away after a rain shower delayed the start.
Fery, who has French parents but grew up in Wimbledon, won his opening two service games to love and forced a break point on the serve of Medvedev – playing his first match at the All England Club since 2021 after last year’s ban.
It was the Russian who made the first move with a break for 3-2 but Fery delighted the crowd by hitting straight back, prompting his excited father Loic – owner of French top division football club Lorient – to leap from his seat punching the air.
Fery held his own until 5-5 when rain again began to fall, calling into serious question the organisers’ decision not to close the roof.
Still it stayed open, and the delay did not help Fery as he dropped his serve on the resumption before Medvedev, who was returning from metres behind the baseline, clinched the opening set.
Listed at a generous 5ft 8in on the ATP website, Fery was giving away nearly a foot to his opponent and Medvedev began to make his longer levers count, drawing more errors from his young opponent.
The third seed was by a long way the highest-ranked player Fery, making his tour level debut, had ever faced, and he was bidding to defeat a top-100 player for the first time.
Medvedev saved a break point in a long service game at 1-2 in the second set before breaking Fery again, but back came the young Londoner.
The disappointment for Fery was that, having given himself a chance in the set by pulling back to 4-4, he was then broken again.
The 20-year-old recalled watching Medvedev’s US Open triumph in 2021 on his phone on the Tube while travelling back from a music festival, but he continued to do a good job of narrowing the gulf between them in the third set.
Medvedev was playing his part in that, too, with more errors than he would have liked but he succeeded in finding a way past Fery, who left the court to loud cheers.
Medvedev admitted he was unsure how he would be received, saying: “I was pretty nervous. I didn’t play here for two years.
“I didn’t know which reception I would get and it was unbelievable. I’m not loved everywhere for who I am, sometimes I get crazy on the court.
“It was an amazing feeling to be back here. I’m going to be loving my time here. Hopefully I can prolong it as long as possible.”