Liam Broady outlasted world number four Casper Ruud in five sets for a career-best win that made him the first British male through to the third round at Wimbledon.
In trademark gutsy fashion, the 29-year-old had to dig deep to fight back from two sets to one down but – carried by a buoyant Centre Court crowd – he clinched an excellent 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-3 6-0 victory in three hours and 27 minutes.
Ruud had made the finals of Roland Garros and the US Open during the past 12 months and yet had no answers to Broady’s mixture of flamboyance and grit, with this win sending the world number 142 through to the third round for a second year in a row.
Broady may have unofficially been the warm-up event for home fans before Andy Murray faced Stefanos Tsitsipas later on day four but he instantly showed this would be no walk in the park for the fourth seed.
A wristy forehand winner on the second point of the contest signalled his intentions and despite going an early break down, the wild card came roaring back.
Three double-faults helped Broady get the first set back on serve but his backhand and flat-hitting was causing all sorts of problems for Ruud, who was runner-up at last month’s French Open.
Four games in a row put Broady in control and he clinched the opener in 46 minutes with the home crowd fully engaged.
It is no secret that grass is Ruud’s least favoured surface but the three-time grand-slam finalist was not about to roll over without a fight.
Like in the first set, the Danish player broke in the fourth game and this time he consolidated it with a hold.
Grit and determination have been synonymous with Broady’s career though and Ruud had to come through a nine-minute game, where five sets point were saved, before he levelled on his own debut on Wimbledon’s main stage.
The stakes were high in front of an almost packed out Centre Court but Broady was not about to let the pressure stifle his flair, with an attempted tweener highlighting that at the start of the third set.
While the full repertoire of shots from the British number five were on display when he held to go 4-3 up, with one drop shot perfect for the end-of-tournament highlights reel, his serve let him down as two double faults allowed Ruud to break before he served out to move two sets to one up.
Broady had failed to take two break points during the 10-minute service game that saw Ruud clinch the third set but he grasped his next opportunity to move 2-0 up at the start of the fourth.
It appeared to dent Ruud’s belief and the physio had to work on his right foot before a 118mph ace forced a deciding set.
World number 142 Broady was no stranger to a five-setter at Wimbledon, winning his two matches at the All England Club in 2022 after going the distance.
By contrast Ruud had only ever won twice here in four appearances and his radar remained off with Broady breaking to love in the opening game of the fifth set.
A gutsy hold by Broady followed but better was to follow with another marathon game resulting in a double break, sealed with an overhead smash.
The Stockport left-hander was in his element now and, after another break, a big forehand winner clinched a fifth-set bagel and the greatest victory of Broady’s nine-year professional career.
Reflecting in an on-court interview, Broady said: “I would have liked to have played him back home but Centre Court, Wimbledon would do.
“When I went to bed last night, I had a think about what I would say if I won and now I don’t know what to say!
“It was a pretty terrifying, exhilarating experience coming out at Centre Court on Wimbledon, but it’s been my dream since I was five years old.”
“I said to my mum this morning, she doesn’t like watching, I’ve already won £80,000 this week so she can chill out.”