Liam Broady went ‘off the rails’ in 2016 but says the UK Pro Series is getting his career back on track, writes Will Jennings.
The Stockport star reached the second round of Wimbledon in 2015 but has endured a bumpy ride on the globetrotting tennis circuit ever since, qualifying for only two more Grand Slams after struggling to replicate that precocious, 21-year-old, SW19 promise.
Broady lost against former world No.1 Andy Murray at the tournament in 2016, qualifying again two years later but extending his disappointing record of never making it to Roland-Garros, Flushing Meadows or the Australian Open.
The financial struggles of tennis can cripple lower-ranked players but for Broady, 26, it was the temptation to indulge his guilty pleasures that hampered his progress.
— Liam Broady (@Liambroady) August 13, 2020
“It doesn’t even feel like five years [since Wimbledon] - it feels like it’s gone so quickly, but I have no regrets,” he reflected.
“Me and my coach, Dave Sammel, stopped working together for a year or two and I went off the rails a little bit, lost focus and had a little bit of fun.
“I was probably having a few too many beers every now and then, and valuing and enjoying myself more than my profession.
“But I think that is pretty understandable for kids at the age that I was, who were younger and never had that opportunity.
“Obviously when you’re going to amazing places like Thailand and California you want to enjoy it, but I’ve had my fun now and hopefully be more focused on the tennis.”
Broady is one of 24 leading players competing in UK Pro Series Classic Week at St. George’s Hill Lawn Tennis Club, Weybridge, playing against a glittering array of talent including Harriet Dart and Eden Silva in the women’s draw and James Ward and Anton Matusevich in the men’s.
The innovative format was devised by Andy Murray’s coach, Jamie Delgado, with players on Classic Week being split into two boxes of six ahead of finals weekend on August 15th and 16th.
🗣️ "I went off the rails a little bit, lost focus and had a little bit of fun" @Liambroady opens up on his turbulent tennis journey since reaching round two of Wimbledon in 2015 - and how the UK Pro Series is revitalising his career 🏆
Read 👉 https://t.co/pY3mW87QrQ pic.twitter.com/QXa2wp99zf
— ukprotennis (@ukprotennis) August 12, 2020
The new format is run by sports media agency River Media Partners, with players being well-paid for participating - and winning - in a bid to help financially support them after lockdown.
Like so many lower-ranked players, Broady has undergone some financial troubles since 2015 - although not acute - and says the innovative format is vital for helping Britain's leading players make a living.
“This is actually more money than we make on tour, especially because it’s a consistent income and we don’t have the same expenses as when you’re travelling to Australia, America or Italy,” he added.
“This is really big for all of us and can help fund my tennis going forward.
“I was getting quite a bit of support from the LTA for a few years, which obviously helped a lot and funded my coach, whereas now in my last year or two I’ve had to be much more careful with my cash.
“I guess that’s just the reality of being an adult, but I’m doing okay and tournaments like this help out massively.”
Broady has enjoyed a successful start at Classic Week as he vies to lift the inaugural trophy at the salubrious Surrey retreat.
And he’s hoping that will kickstart a revitalised tennis journey on tour, providing a long-overdue springboard for success to earn a regular stream of income from competing around the globe.
He reckons he’s a better person from those mistakes of the past and, loving tennis more than ever before, wants to elongate his career all the way into his mid-30s.
“If I hadn’t have done what I did I wouldn’t be where I am now, and I think I’m probably more mature than I was then, so I’m grateful for the journey,” he said.
“I love it [tennis] now more than I did when I was younger - as you get older you learn to appreciate things more and realise that some things don’t last forever.
“Maybe when you’re younger you’ll think ‘I’ll be around for another 20 years on tour’, so I definitely appreciate it more now.
“Hopefully I’ll be playing into my 30s - that’s the plan, and it depends how the body’s looking.
“I want to break onto the ATP Tour - I think I have the ability to do it, I just need to give myself the opportunities to play there.”
12 of the UK’s top women and men have qualified through the UK Pro Series for the UK Pro Classic - www.ukproseries.com. The competition will be available for free on LIVENow, Eurosport Player and will have national free to air coverage via FreeSports