Jodie Burrage has promised to go into Wimbledon with no fear and keep ignoring the name of her opponent as she looks to continue an impressive summer at the All England Club.
The 23-year-old made her main-draw debut at SW19 last year but won only three games against Lauren Davis on her way to a speedy day-one exit where coronavirus restrictions made it a far-from-normal grand slam experience.
Burrage, who owns a flat in Wimbledon and was born in Kingston, is excited to experience her home tournament with no limits this time and enters it with more experience on grass than most this summer after playing 14 matches since June 1.
Victory over world number four Paula Badosa in Eastbourne this week earned the Briton a career-best result on the eve of the Championships and, while it may seem premature to talk about a potential third-round meeting with Anett Kontaveit, another top-five player, were it to happen the local girl would not be fazed.
“What I have learned most about tennis is it comes down to day by day and who plays better on the day. You have to believe anyone can beat anyone and that is what the last few weeks have shown,” Burrage told the PA news agency.
“I took Paula’s name out of it and just played the ball that was coming to me because otherwise you are going to get all sorts of different emotions, especially trying to close out a match like that.
“The belief I had I just took it in with me for every single point, regardless of what happened the point before, and it really got me through. If I didn’t believe in myself, I know there would be no chance.”
Everything has clicked for Burrage during the past month and she will break into the world’s top 150 for the first time on Monday but, had things been different, she would not be preparing for just her second-ever appearance in the Wimbledon main draw.
A wild card opportunity appeared likely in 2019 but the Londoner sustained a serious ankle injury a matter of weeks before the grand slam in her backyard.
Burrage explained: “At Surbiton I did my ligaments. I got my ranking to 230 and you can’t really assume anything but I put myself in a good position that year, was playing some great tennis and Surbiton on match point I did my ankle.
“That put me out for another three or four months, so that one was really frustrating and I actually didn’t think I would get back from that injury.
“It was the third operation I had, that op was on my left ankle but I had two before on my right ankle. I was a bit all done with it and wasn’t in a good place but family and friends really helped me turn my thinking around.”
After Burrage completed her recovery, Covid-19 hit to throw another spanner in the works and in a strange twist of fate everything has come full circle with Surbiton the catalyst for an excellent summer.
It was a superb run to the Surbiton Trophy semi-finals which sparked a momentum shift that has seen the Briton reach the last-16 of Nottingham and Eastbourne events with a runner-up showing in Ilkley in between.
Burrage would be lying if she said it was expected after losing all four matches on grass in 2021 and having endured a difficult time on clay but the work off court seems to be paying off.
“I have been working with my psychologist for like a year and a half now,” she revealed.
“I have learnt a lot about myself and how to deal with myself, because mentally for me I have a very fiery personality. In the past it has been being able to balance the negative and positive. At the moment I am getting a very good balance of that.
“I can’t tell you why now because even a few months ago I was putting really hard work in and not getting the results I wanted, so I wasn’t in a great place. That is why I have actually surprised myself a lot during this grass season considering how I was feeling before so I am happy it has actually clicked just before Wimbledon.”
While Burrage has won 10 matches on the lawn in 2022, the home favourite will take nothing for granted ahead of facing Lesia Tsurenko in round one.
She added: “I kind of feel like this year I have got a first main draw at Wimbledon outside of the Covid bubble so I am looking forward to that.
“Obviously I have had some really good wins but it doesn’t mean my level is automatically there. You have to take each match as it comes regardless of where the person is ranked but it is exciting times going into Wimbledon.”
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