Cowan’s heroics give him Davis Cup hope

LONDON, Reuters

Barry Cowan’s five-set Wimbledon heroics against Pete Sampras have given the Briton instant celebrity status and put him at the front of the queue for a Davis Cup place.

British media applauded the 26-year-old wildcard after he pushed defending champion Sampras all the way as dusk fell on court one before falling 6-3, 6-2, 6-7, 4-6, 6-3 in the second round on Wednesday.

“Fighting Brit gives Sampras scare,” read the headline in the Guardian newspaper.

“Thrilled to Brits,” declared the Mirror in a double-page spread dedicated to the life-long Liverpool soccer fan.

“Battling Barry will never Walkman alone after scaring champ Sampras,” the tabloid continued, referring to Cowan’s habit of listening to his personal CD player at changeovers playing Liverpool’s anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.

On Thursday Cowan, ranked 265 in the world, was given a further boost when Davis Cup captain Roger Taylor, himself a former Wimbledon semifinalist, said: “He has definitely pushed himself to the front of the queue with that performance.

“You have to say someone’s got to come up with a pretty good result to better that one. That is a result that is very special.”

Britain, led by sixth seed Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski, travel to Ecuador for a World Group qualifying fixture in September.

“It was a great surprise to see Barry playing like that… hopefully he can find that form again.”

Taylor said he had seen Cowan since the five-set thriller but they hadn’t spoken. “He couldn’t speak… he was smiling too much.”

“I saw him last night and he was just grinning all over his face. He was just obviously thrilled… just really enjoying it.

“But the difficulty now is that he has to get back to reality.

“He’s going to go out on the circuit again to places where there are not any big crowds, probably where he isn’t very well known and he is fighting to sort of move up the ranking again.”