HELL hath no fury like a British tennis player scorned.
A recent increase in prize money assures a second-round loser at Wimbledon of £42,310 but for Naomi Broady yesterday her victory from a set down against Timea Babos of Hungary was utterly priceless.
Of the seven-strong British challenge on day one at Wimbledon - five men and two women - Broady was the only one capable of following Andy Murray into the second round. This could hardly be termed a success for the Lawn Tennis Association and its energetic new Canadian chief executive Michael Downey, not least because Broady has not received a single penny in funding from the LTA's seemingly bottomless coffers since 2007.
That was when her funding was withdrawn as a result of the teenager having the temerity to be photographed wearing a mini-dress and posing suggestively by a condom machine in a nightclub toilet. So enraged by this was Broady's father Simon, a property developer, that he pulled her younger brother Liam, then only 13, out of the LTA's programme, selling the family home to fund their careers himself. While he has subsequently rebuffed offers to take Naomi's development back in-house, Liam has since returned to the LTA fold, a decision which has left father and son barely on speaking terms.
An indignant Broady last night savoured her 2-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-0 win - she now faces Caroline Wozniacki or Shahar Peer - and revealed her lack of spare cash was such that this time last year she almost jacked it all in and moved to Paris to become an au pair.
"It's still a win for British tennis even if I'm not funded by the LTA," said the 24-year-old from Stockport. "But it has been tough. It has definitely made me hungrier. If I don't win, I don't have any money. It makes you fight harder on court because if you don't fight and win, then you can't afford the next tournament.
"Still to this day I don't particularly see what was the big deal," she added. "I wasn't doing drugs, I wasn't paralytic drunk on the floor. It was just a stupid, jokey pose that looked horrible. I don't think they [the LTA] will try and take credit. I'll laugh in someone's face if they try and say it was them. It's pretty clear I've been the only person at every practice session for the past few years."
Elsewhere, all around her, Broady's funded colleagues crashed and burned. If the narrative was not so wearily familiar you could say that Brits have not been in this much disarray since that time Jarvis Cocker invaded the stage to thrust his posterior at Michael Jackson.
Six British entrants in the men's singles was the most since 2007, but a uniformly brutal day only served to re-inforce the task facing Bob Brett, the veteran Aussie who was recently appointed head of player development. On the face of it, Dan Evans was the best hope. The sparky little Brummie, Britain's No.2, had shocked Kei Nishikori to reach the third round at last year's US Open and he was given an even chance against Russia's Andrey Kuznetsov out on Court No.2, but before he knew it he was staring at a two-set disadvantage.
On the day Murray had compared himself to Dennis the Menace, Desperate Dan twisted his ankle in a heavy fall but none the less prolonged it into a fourth set before succumbing to a 6-1, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (7- 5) defeat.
Eleven spots further out at World No.154, another Davis Cup stalwart was also finding himself outgunned by a Russian. James Ward had made it through qualifying at the French Open, but he found the experienced Mikhail Youzhny all too much for him. Ward was permitted just five games in a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 mauling but remained philosophical about it afterwards. "Look I played a guy No.17 in the world," he said. "Obviously Andy Murray is a great player and it is tough to keep up. But we're all striving to do it as much as everyone else is in world of tennis."
The next victim was Dan Cox, the World No.214, from Lincoln. The 23-year-old can reflect on taking a set from Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in a 6-2, 7-6 (7-3), 6-7 (6-8), 6-3 defeat.
Young Kyle Edmund, ranked No.320, fell 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 to Andreas Haider-Maurer, while Johanna Konta went down 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to Shuai Peng.
Even Aljaz Bedene, a 24-year-old Slovene who is seeking British nationality, seemed keen to get in on the act. He went down against giant Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-3, 7-5, 6-2. If you were being unkind, you might say his credentials for LTA support are becoming irresistible.