Friedl and Hantuchova impress the few who bothered

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The Independent Online

Never can there have been two such contrasting finals in one day at All England Club. While Goran Ivanisevic was making history on Centre Court, Leos Friedl of the Czech Republic and Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova were taking the mixed doubles title on No 1 Court. They defeated America's Mike Bryan and South Africa's Liezel Huber in three sets, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Friedl and Hantuchova's victory was remarkable firstly for the fact that neither player had ever been involved in any kind of doubles competition before arriving in SW19 this year, but also the biggest match of their lives attracted the smallest-ever crowd on a Wimbledon show court. At its busiest, there were 124 people inside No 1 Court, which has a capacity of 11,500. The 124 die-hards included the four players, the umpire, 10 line judges, six ball boys and girls, nine covers attendants, 23 stewards, 13 members of the players' entourages, six cameramen, two photographers, six All England Club officials and 44 members of the public.

"If someone had said to me before we started the tournament that we'd end up as the winners, I would have said they were mad," Friedl said afterwards. "But I'm very happy, and maybe putting us on No 1 Court away from the attention was not such a bad thing."

At several points in the game, the cheers from the hill overlooking the screen outside No 1 Court drowned out the action inside.

The turning point came in the second set, with Bryan and Huber a set up and the score at 3-3. Huber was distracted when she thought a bad call had been made against her, although the ball was clearly out. She lost concentration and did not recover.

"You shouldn't be in the chair," Huber had said to the umpire at the crucial moment. "This is a Wimbledon final." Not that you'd have known it yesterday.