Marray sets historic tone with unlikely doubles title

Briton ends long wait for a home champion as he helps Dane sink the perennial bridesmaids

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The unheralded Jonathan Marray played his part last night in what could become a historic weekend for British tennis by partnering Denmark's Frederik Nielsen to another stunning victory, this time to win the men's doubles title. In only their fourth tournament together they won 4-6, 6-4, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 against the far more experienced fifth seeds, Robert Lindstedt of Sweden and Romania's Horia Tecau, who were thus condemned to a mortifying third successive defeat in the final here.

The sense of history being made was fuelled by this being the first Wimbledon final to be finished indoors, the roof being closed after rain at the end of the third set. The echoes resounding round Centre Court harked back to 1936, a great year for British tennis, when as well as Fred Perry's last Wimbledon triumph, there were home wins in all three doubles events.

Men's omens? Not since then had even one Brit won this event and not since 1960 had there been any representatives in the final, when Mike Davies and Bobby Wilson were beaten in straight sets.

To make this giant-killing all the more unlikely, the crowd's favourites had to contend with an injury to Nielsen's left wrist, which required two lots of treatment. Although he is right-handed, he appeared to be handicapped on his backhand, which the opposition might have been expected to play on more ruthlessly.

It was extraordinary that Marray and Nielsen should have been anywhere near the final. Only on the deadline day for entries did Marray invite his occasional partner to team up with him for just the fourth time, in order to secure a wildcard entry. From there they knocked out the eighth and ninth seeds and then, most impressively of all, the defending champions and 11-time Grand Slam-winners Bob and Mike Bryan in the semi-final.

Nielsen is the grandson of the former Wimbledon singles runner-up Kurt, who he says is "arguably the best ever [player] to come out of Denmark". His serve was occasionally a weak link in the partnership but Marray was the best of the quartet, his volleying outstanding.

Handicapped in his career as a singles player by injury, the Englishman subsequently turned to doubles and will now leap from world No 78 into the top 30, which will be hugely beneficial in securing entry to the better tournaments.

What the pair will also take away, as well as the memories, is a healthy improvement to their bank balances. So far this year Marray has won less than £19,000, but his earnings yesterday were £130,000.

The 35 year-old Lindstedt, who lives in London, was initially the better of the opposing team, serving well and with the quick hands and reflexes required at the net in doubles. His volley won the first set after 30 minutes, Nielsen having dropped his serve in the seventh game.

The Nielsen serve was in trouble again early in the second set but Lindstedt and Tecau were unable to convert their break point. From there the Anglo-Danish partnership held serve and after having two set points saved at 5‑4, 40-15 they drew level at a set apiece when Tecau netted Marray's fine return of serve.

Nielsen required the trainer at that point for treatment to his wrist and later had to have it strapped. Along with his partner he nevertheless held serve throughout the third set and they won the tie-break on their third set-point. It included a notable piece of sportsmanship by Marray, who confessed to something the umpire and opposition had not noticed – that he touched the net on a point his team won. That would have brought a 5-0 lead but as it was they hung on to win the break 7-5.

After the rain stoppage in the fourth set, an increasingly tetchy Lindstedt complained briefly that the court was still slippery. His team slipped into a second successive tie-break, in which Nielsen hit a superb cross-court forehand for a mini-break that helped to put them 5-2 down, but they fought back to take it 7-5.

So to a final set in which Lindstedt's error gave Marray and Nielsen a 2-0 lead which they managed to hold on to amid increasing excitement, rounding things off in three hours and 20 minutes when Marray served out the match, with Nielsen volleying the match and championship winner.

Elsewhere, Mike Bryan partnered Lisa Raymond to victory in the mixed doubles semi-final over Nenad Zimonjic and Katerina Srebotnik but he will not face his brother in the final. Bob and Liezel Huber lost in three sets to Leander Paes and Elena Vesnina .

In the boys' doubles semi-final, the 17-year-old Evan Hoyt from Llanelli and the South African Wayne Montgomery were beaten 7-6, 7-6 by the Italian pair Matteo Donati and Pietro Licciardi.

Comments