Doubles: Robson and Stoop conquer in battle to save face

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The Independent Online

Those who fancy themselves cynical would doubtless suggest that here was the only feasible way of reducing the exorbitant expectations vested in Andrew Murray. But a true cynic would view the epic, 24-game deciding set between the four British players conveniently drawn together in the first round of the Women's Doubles as confirmation of some national dread of success.

In fairness, Laura Robson's endeavours when knocked out of the singles on Monday had persuasively absolved her from a general grinding of teeth over the travails of her compatriots. And the fact that she and her partner, Georgie Stoop, last night persevered through a third set lasting 76 minutes before finally settling the issue should instead reiterate that her blossoming talent is usefully reinforced by willpower.

And quite right, too, given that few first-round ties in the Women's Doubles can ever have been witnessed by the sort of crowd that squinted into the dusk on Court One. It was in this same arena that Robson had announced herself in the juniors' tournament last year, and she and her partner finally saw off the obstinate challenge of Jade Curtis and Anna Smith 6-4, 3-6, 13-11.

Even when destiny finally beckoned the winners, they hesitated. At match point, Stoop missed out on an easy volley; and the next point she won only by clipping a forehand along the top of the net, where the ball matched her own apparent vacillation before rolling over. But then Stoop, who had failed very honourably in her own singles tie, losing in three sets against the Russian Vera Zvonareva, at last seized the moment with a backhand down the middle.

Jocelyn Rae and Melanie South had, meanwhile, won their tie with the Bondarenko sisters of Ukraine with rather less exertion, 6-1, 7-6, but any hope that his sibling's momentum would rub off on Jamie Murray sadly proved illusory. In the company of the Israeli Jonathan Erlich, he fared progressively worse through a 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 defeat at the hands of Lukasz Kubot – a potential Davis Cup opponent against Poland in September – and Oliver Marach.

But two other British pairings – Jamie Delgado and Jonathan Marray, and Alex Bogdanovic and James Ward – both made it through their ties. Of course, they say that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. But the last refuge of a patriot, palpably, is knockabout tennis of this kind. Still, it was great entertainment. Bring on the mixed doubles!

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