Ryan Peniston springs another Queen’s surprise with win over Ugo Humbert

Ryan Peniston springs another Queen’s surprise with win over Ugo Humbert

British wild card Ryan Peniston sprung another surprise at the cinch Championships – and gave Andy Murray a Wimbledon boost – with a straight-sets win over Ugo Humbert.

Essex lad Peniston, currently ranked a lowly 265, shocked top seed and world number five Casper Ruud at Queen’s Club last year on his way to the quarter-finals.

The 27-year-old found the grass of west London to his liking again as he secured a place in the second round, and a potential meeting with second-seed Holger Rune, with an impressive 6-4 6-2 victory.

cinch Championships 2023 – Day One – The Queen’s Club
Ryan Peniston was a straight-sets winner (Adam Davy/PA)

“I loved playing here last year, so to come back, it feels pretty comfortable to be on the court. It’s just amazing,” said Peniston.

“I was nervous – I was more nervous last year. But once you get going it is a lot of fun out there.”

World number 37 Humbert is one of the players Murray needs to overtake in the rankings if he is to be seeded at Wimbledon next month, so his early exit will only help the Scot’s cause.

A place in the quarter-finals at Queen’s might be enough to place the two-time champion back in the top 32, meaning he can avoid drawing one of the big names in the early rounds at SW19.

Murray, on a 10-match winning streak on the grass, faces Australian world number 18 Alex de Minaur in the first round on Tuesday.

Cameron Norrie followed Peniston on to Centre Court and got his grass-court season off to a winning start by beating Miomir Kecmanovic.

The British number one was given a decent work-out by Serbian Kecmanovic, fending off one break point in the first set with some heroic defending at the net.

cinch Championships 2023 – Day One – The Queen’s Club
Cameron Norrie also progressed (Adam Davy/PA)

The 27-year-old, runner-up at Queen’s two years ago, was taken to a second-set tie-break and let three match points slip before converting a fourth to wrap up a 6-4 7-6 (5) victory.

British tennis fans are in for an extra treat this week as Norrie and Murray will team up for the first time in the doubles competition.

Murray memorably won the doubles title at Queen’s with Feliciano Lopez in 2019 as he began his comeback from hip surgery.

“I just asked him, ‘Do you want to play doubles at Queen’s?’. He said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it’. It was pretty simple,” said Norrie.

“I’m just going to enjoy it and get another match on the grass and hopefully just pick his brains on a few things. Obviously he’s got a lot of confidence at the moment, a good guy to play with.”

There was first-round disappointment for British number two Dan Evans, who lost 6-4 7-5 to American Sebastian Korda.

It was a seventh defeat in eight matches for Evans and the 33-year-old was not exactly upbeat about his chances at Wimbledon.

“I have to compete harder than I did today and be better mentally. But it’s becoming difficult to do that with the amount of losses,” he said.

“It’s frustrating and also a little bit embarrassing. So there’s a lot of emotion in that. It’s hard to see what I can do next.

“I’m not looking forward to playing any tennis at the minute. It’s tough. When you feel no confidence, it’s not a good spot to be in.

“You know, I’d love to say I’m looking forward to playing my next match but I’m not. That’s the honest truth for you.”

There was also no fairytale for Britain’s second wild card, Jan Choinski, who went down 6-4 6-2 to Italian sixth seed Lorenzo Musetti.