Henry Searle thrives on home support to reach Wimbledon final

A raucous crowd helped Henry Searle battle through blustery conditions and stun another seeded opponent to reach the boys’ singles final at Wimbledon.

Searle had defied his unseeded status to reach the last four of the boys’ singles, beating top seed Juan Carlos Prado Ángelo in round one before a quarter-final win over eighth seed Joao Fonseca.

But the 17-year-old, who trains at the LTA’s National Academy in Loughborough, was handed another test in his semi-final against fourth seed Cooper Williams – the American having won the boys’ doubles title at the Australian Open back in January.

The Wolverhampton ace had to wait an extra day to contest his semi-final after rain called off play on Friday, but there was a loud crowd surrounding Court 4 for his contest on Saturday morning. 

And once again he embraced the big occasion, handling the gusty conditions and beating Williams 7-6(4) 6-3.

“It was pretty cool. Being the home favourite is pretty special, especially at Wimbledon,” he said.

“If you’ve got the momentum going with you it’s definitely a benefit for sure, and if it’s going against you it helps you towards trying to regain it.

“All my friends are really supportive. They’re from my tennis club Newbridge, they’ve been around tennis for a very long time.

“I was a little bit nervous. There’s always a few nerves at the start of the match before going on, but I really settled once we got onto court.”

Searle is the first British boy to reach the final since Jack Draper in 2018, and victory on Sunday would make him the first champion in this event since Stanley Matthew Jr – son of the football legend – won in 1962.

But as he gears up for the biggest match of his career against familiar opposition in the form of fifth seed Yaroslav Demin – most likely on Court 1 – he is focusing only on tennis and not the history books. 

He added: “I won’t really think about it too much, to be honest – I’ll just focus on myself. It’s another match at the end of the day and I’ll do my best to win. I can’t really control too much on the outside of the court.

“I’ve played him a couple of times. I played him at the French Open as well, put in a good performance against him – he’s a really good player, really tricky. I managed to come out on top that time.

“It’s definitely a confidence boost to win that, but I’ve got to expect him to be up against a better version of him tomorrow. I’ve got to go out and be prepared to face him.” 

For the latest action on the British summer grass court season, check out the LTA website

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