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Review: British men's tennis ahead of the grass-court season

Sports Mole takes a look at the current state of British men's tennis ahead of Wimbledon, which gets underway on June 29.

At the end of 2014, Sports Mole assessed how the depth of men's tennis in Great Britain had improved throughout the course of the year, and ahead of an important few weeks on the grass at Queen's, Nottingham and Wimbledon, it seems the ideal time to take a look at how the domestic-based players have fared during the first five-and-a-half months of the season.

Two-time major winner Andy Murray has continued to prove himself as one of the best players in the world by reaching the Australian Open final as well as winning clay-court tournaments in Munich and Madrid, but below, we take a look at the remaining British players in the top 200 of the world rankings before they look to impress their home crowds.

1. Aljaz Bedene

Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene plays a shot during his men's singles match against Serbia's Novak Djokovic on day two of the 2015 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 20, 2015© Getty Images

Ranking at end of 2014: 156

Current ranking: 73

Highlight of 2015 so far: Reaching Chennai final, winning challenger events in Irving and Rome.

Review: Aljaz Bedene began the year representing Slovenia, the country where he was born, but the 25-year-old has been a long-time resident of London and after a lengthy application process, he was finally given permission to feature for Great Britain in March, which automatically promoted him to next in line behind Murray.

While still in Slovenia colours, Bedene reached his first ATP Tour final in Chennai, coming through qualifying and beating the likes of Feliciano Lopez and Roberto Bautista Agut before losing to Stanislas Wawrinka. He followed that by progressing through three qualifying rounds to reach the Australian Open where he was drawn to play Novak Djokovic, and although he impressed, he ultimately fell to a straight-sets defeat to the world number one.

Since then, he won challenger events on both hard and clay courts to move well inside the top 100 in the world rankings. Those triumphs mean that he currently sits at 54 in the Race to London rankings, which is an excellent achievement, but as he prepares to play in front of an English crowd for the first time as one of their own, he will be eager to build on his form from the opening half of the year.

2. Kyle Edmund

Great Britain's Kyle Edmund on day two of the Australian Open on January 20, 2015© Getty Images

Ranking at end of 2014: 191

Current ranking: 101

Highlight of 2015 so far: Qualifying for Australian Open, reaching French Open second round, winning Hong Kong challenger event.

Review: Kyle Edmund ended 2014 by reaching his first challenger final in Yokohama, and the 20-year-old has only gone from strength to strength during the first half of 2015, which started with qualification for the Australian Open before he succumbed to American Steve Johnson.

The Beverley-based hitter followed that up by winning his first challenger event in Hong Kong, before he made the semi-finals in a high-quality field in Irving. After reaching three challenger quarter-finals on clay, he was suitably prepared for the qualifying rounds at Roland Garros, where he powered past three respectable opponents to reach his second Grand Slam of the year.

After prevailing from a five-set thriller with Stephane Robert, Edmund was unable to take to court for his second-round clash with Nick Kyrgios, but the tournament represented new ground for the new British number three. He continues to struggle with a stomach muscle problem, but there is optimism that he should be fit to feature at Wimbledon.

3. James Ward

James Ward in action on day two of the Australian Open on January 20, 2015© Getty Images

Ranking at end of 2014: 101

Current ranking: 108

Highlight of 2015 so far: Achieving direct entry into Australian Open, beating John Isner in Davis Cup.

Review: After finishing 2014 by getting to the final in Traralgon, James Ward increased expectations ahead of what he hoped would be the springboard to take him into the world's top 100, but so far, the Londoner has failed to match his exploits during an exhausting run of events last year.

Between the ATP and challenger tours, Ward has won just four main-draw matches and has left himself with a huge amount of work to do if he is to maintain his current ranking position. More recently, he has struggled with a foot problem, but it shouldn't prevent him featuring at Queen's, Nottingham and Wimbledon.

Despite his struggles when world ranking points are on offer, Ward did achieve undoubtedly the biggest win of his career when fighting back from two sets down to beat John Isner in the Davis Cup, taking the final set 15-13. It's a result that ultimately proved pivotal and gave Great Britain the "bonus" point they required to see off the United States.

4. Liam Broady

Liam Broady of Great Britain serves during his boys' singles final match against Filip Peliwo of Canada on Day Fourteen of the 2012 US Open on November 3, 2014© Getty Images

Ranking at end of 2014: 192

Current ranking: 179

Highlight of 2015 so far: Reaching Australian Open third qualifying round, making last eight of Samarkand challenger,

Review: Like Edmund and Ward, Liam Broady was superb during the closing months of 2014 as he won three futures events as well as reaching his first challenger final in Charlottesville, but so far, the former junior Wimbledon finalist has failed to repeat his results of the previous year.

Despite falling at the final hurdle in qualifying for the Australian Open, Broady would have been encouraged by significant wins over Farrukh Dustov and Jared Donaldson, but failure to qualify for ATP tournaments in Memphis and Delray Beach halted his progress and as well as receiving some rough draws during the opening rounds at various events, he has struggled to put together a string of wins.

His grass-court campaign hasn't gotten off to the best of starts after losing in the first round at challenger events in Manchester and Surbiton, but he has showed in the past that he has the game for that particular surface, and if he can break his current streak, the Stockport player could rediscover the form that saw him break into the world's top 200.

5. Brydan Klein

Brydan Klein of Great Britain in action during his second round qualifying match against Denis Kudla of the USA on day two of the Wimbledon Championships 2014 Qualifying at the Bank of England Sports Centre on June 17, 2014© Getty Images

Ranking at end of 2014: 250

Current ranking: 188

Highlight of 2015 so far: Reaching Surbiton semi-finals, winning futures event in Australia.

Review: Australian-born Brydan Klein is something of an unknown where British supporters are concerned after failing to qualify for a Grand Slam since making his nationality switch, but if he can continue his recent form over the next few weeks, he has the potential of making a burst up the world rankings.

Aside from strong performances in futures events in Australia, his campaign showed little sign of igniting until he pulled off a huge upset in defeating former Wimbledon semi-finalist Marcos Baghdatis at the Manchester Aegon Trophy last week. Klein has followed that by reaching the last four in Surbiton, which could take him to a career-high in the world rankings.

It remains to be seen whether his results over the past two weeks will be enough to earn him a wildcard for Wimbledon, but the fact that he has put himself into contention is promising, and even if he misses out on guaranteed entry to SW19, he would still be confident of advancing through the qualifying rounds.

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Andy Murray of Great Britain celebrates a point against Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in their semi-final match during the Miami Open Presented by Itau at Crandon Park Tennis Center on April 3, 2015
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