Ipswich tennis star Elena Baltacha not allowed to attend Olympic Games opening ceremony

IPSWICH’S Elena Baltacha has backed the decision not to allow Britain’s tennis players to attend tonight’s opening ceremony at the Olympic Park.

Even though none of Britain’s eight players’ matches are until late tomorrow morning at Wimbledon, it was decided that a trip across London for tonight’s opening ceremony – which isn’t scheduled to finish until gone midnight – would be detrimental to their chances.

With Baltacha set to watch the spectacular show on TV at her base in Wimbledon, she said: “We’re all playing tomorrow so that’s fine.

“We’re here to compete. It would have been really nice to go but we’re here for a reason and that has to come first. If we were to go we wouldn’t be back until late and that’s not the best preparation.

“It is a shame but we can watch it on TV, that’s what I’ll be doing with my mum. And if we did go we wouldn’t have seen it anyway, we would have been stuck in a room for quite a few hours.

“I’ve heard it’s unbelievable. Someone I know went to the rehearsal and was saying how amazing it was so I’m really looking forward to watching it.”

Baltacha is likely to be the first British player in action when she meets Hungary’s Agnes Szavay in the first round of the women’s singles in the third match on Court 18.

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She added: “I can’t believe how quickly the time’s passed and it’s all kicking off tonight. It’s an amazing feeling to be part of it and I can’t wait to start my match tomorrow.”

Baltacha has struggled for form this season but Szavay has played only one match in more than a year because of back problems and does not even have a world ranking.

Baltacha said: “It’s a good draw for the first round. You can’t take anyone lightly but hopefully I can go out and do my thing and get into the second round. I’m feeling good and I’m feeling ready.”

Anne Keothavong has the toughest draw of any of the British players against eighth seed and former world number one Caroline Wozniacki but she is rewarded with an appearance on Centre Court.

The Murray brothers begin their men’s doubles campaign fourth on Court Two against Austria’s Jurgen Melzer and Alexander Peya.

Andy Murray will play his first singles match on Sunday against good friend and former top-10 player Stanislas Wawrinka, who has been given tomorrow off after carrying Switzerland’s flag in the opening ceremony.

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