Tennis: Wimbledon '97 - High fives all round for Woodies

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The Independent Online
The last time a pair won the men's doubles five years in succession the ink was barely dry on Britain's lease of Hong Kong. Yesterday Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde equalled Laurie and Reggie Doherty's record set in 1901.

The two Australians, known as the Woodies since before their first title in 1993, defeated the Netherlands' Jacco Eltingh and Paul Haarhuis 7- 6, 7-6, 5-7, 6-3, taking their unbeaten record at the All England Club to 30 matches.

History came in a stutter. At 5-3, 40-0 up in the third set they were just a good Todd Woodbridge serve away from the title but managed to squander four match points and then lose a further three games in succession.

In the fourth set, the scenario was the same with Woodbridge serving for the match. This time the nerve and the serve held, the culprit of the third set smashing the ball away for the last winner with a relish.

Gigi Fernandez and Natasha Zvereva defeated Nicole Arendt and Manon Bollegraf 7-6, 6-4 to take the women's doubles. Very routine it was, too, the champions of '92, '93 and '94 wrapping the match up in 1hr 29min.

Fernandez and Zvereva won six Grand Slam tournaments in a row in the early Nineties but their run had ground to a halt to such an extent they parted company last year, playing with Martina Hingis and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario respectively in the Australian Open in January.

The separation did not work, however, and, newly restored, they have won the French Open and now Wimbledon. "This means as much as the first title," Fernandez said. "We got back together with few expectations, so to win in Paris and here is very special."

Neil Broad, who is likely to play in the doubles for Britain in the Davis Cup tie against the Ukraine this week, failed to reach the mixed doubles final when he and the South African Mariaan de Swardt lost 7-6, 4-6, 6-3 to Andrei Olhovskiy and Larisa Neiland.

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