Net Gains: Brainy Brits double up and set to be wild things at Wimbledon
Sunday 14 June 2009
Is there a brainier doubles partnership than Colin Fleming and Ken Skupski? The British pair, who enjoyed a remarkable victory last week over the Bryan brothers, are both university graduates. Fleming, 24, returned to full-time tennis last summer after leaving Stirling University with a First in economics and finance. Skupski, 26, took four years out to study communications at Louisiana State University in New Orleans. They can play, too. The pair joined forces in October and won four titles in a row on the Challenger and Futures circuit. In the last month they have won a Challenger in Italy, reached the Nottingham final and capped everything with victory at Queen's over Bob and Mike Bryan, the world's No 1 doubles team, before losing to Lukasz Kubot and Oliver Marach in the quarter-finals. Both are at a career-high doubles ranking – Skupski is world No 148 and Fleming No 165 – and will climb further when the list is updated tomorrow. While Skupski concentrates full-time on doubles, Fleming, who made his Davis Cup debut against Ukraine this year, still has singles ambitions. His doubles commitments have prevented him trying to qualify for Wimbledon in singles, but he will play singles (and doubles with Skupski) in Eastbourne this week and the pair will play together at the All England Club courtesy of a wild card.
London is Blake's heaven
James Blake has more incentive than most to qualify for the season-ending World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena. The 29-year-old American has an English mother and always enjoys crossing the Atlantic. "I'd be excited to be a part of it no matter where it was, but even more so in London," Blake said. "The fans here are knowledgeable and have shown how much they care about tennis with the tradition of Wimbledon and Queen's."
Recession bites, sarnies sell
The recession is biting even in this well-heeled corner of west London. The caterers at Queen's have been selling fewer of their fancier dishes this year while there has been a 20 per cent increase in the sales of humble sandwiches.
Players walk out over Tube
Traffic in west London is never good at the best of times but the combined effect on Wednesday of the Tube strike and an accident at Hammersmith brought the area to a standstill, leading to the rare sight of a number of international tennis players exiting courtesy cars and walking.
Fed dangerous? Roger that
Andy Roddick has lost 18 of his 20 matches against Roger Federer, which was probably why he looked aghast when asked if the world No 2 would be "more dangerous" now he has equalled Pete Sampras' record of 14 Grand Slams. "We're talking about a man who's been the best player of all time. So is he going to be more dangerous than the best of all time?" asked Roddick.
Roddick loses his head
What was Roddick doing in a shiny pink cap on Monday? The answer was he paid the price for losing his doubles with Rajeev Ram to Andy Murray and Lleyton Hewitt. The two Andys agreed beforehand the loser would pose for photos wearing the lurid headwear. Murray thinks Roddick should replace the caps he normally wears. "They have sweat stains on them because he never washes them and thinks they're lucky," he said.
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