Venus steers her sister to promised title
Sunday 06 July 2008
Having deprived her little sister of a Wimbledon singles title earlier in the day, Venus Williams lived up to her promise that “Serena deserves a win so I’m going to try even harder” when they teamed up for the doubles final last night. Big sister was supreme at the net and with Serena taking out her frustration at the earlier loss, opponents Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur were despatched 6-2 6-2 in less than an hour.
Fittingly, it was the sisters’ 100th victory in tandem, bringing with it a third Wimbledon doubles title to follow those of 2000 and 2002. This year’s could hardly have been more emphatic, as they stormed through 12 sets without losing one. Yesterday the first set was won in exactly half an hour, preying on Raymond’s service to break her twice. The key game in the second set was the fifth, in which Stosur endangered the umpire with a wildly mis-hit serve, then found Venus returning the next one right at her feet for a 3-2 lead.
After Raymond lost four points in a row for another break, the honour of serving for the Championship went to Venus, who made the most of it, finishing things off with a perfect lob on to the baseline. Although victory was never in doubt, the match at least contained plenty of the exciting rallies traditionally expected of an evening doubles match on Centre Court.
That was in sharp contrast to the disappointingly dull men’s doubles final which preceded it. In it, Jonas Bjorkman, the 36-year-old Swede who is retiring at the end of the current year, was denied a fourth Wimbledon title. He and Zimbabwe's Kim Ullyett, seeded eighth, went down 7-6 6-7 6-3 6-3 to Daniel Nestor of Canada and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia.
Playing in front of a Centre Court crowd who probably wished they were watching Laura Robson, and a Royal Box initially containing only two occupants, the quartet produced what was – according to taste – either a powerful display of serving and volleying or monumentally predictable fare. The tone was set from the start, with barely a sniff of a break or even anything resembling a rally in the opening dozen games. Zimonjic's serving, reaching 133mph, was especially strong, as he demonstrated with three aces in the first game of the match.
In the first set tie-break, 10 points went with serve before Zimonij raised his fist on triumph after achieving a mini-break and set point by means of an unexpectedly deft cross-court pass. His partner, alas, wasted the opportunity by clipping a backhand wide. And so it went on until, at 13-12 there was finally a genuine rally at the net which ended with the left-handed Nestor playing the winning shot for the second seeds. The 26 points made it the longest in a mens doubles final.
Oddly both men were born in Belgrade, Nestor then moving to Canada when he was four years old. Runners-up at the French Open last month and winners at Queen's, they were on a winning streak of nine matches, having reformed as a pair last autumn after playing together seven years ago, but they were both chasing their first Grand Slam title. Nestor was in a Wimbledon doubles final as long ago as 2002 when also up against Bjorkman, while Zimonjic was a loser here in 2004 and 2006.
Bjorkman had achieved a hat-trick in the event with Australia's Todd Woodbridge from 2002-4. With Ullyett, who is also 36 and only two months younger, he had denied the fancied top seeds Bob and Mike Bryan, the American twins, a fourth successive final by knocking them out in the semi-final.
As the second set followed the same pattern as the first, a long evening was in prospect. Another tie-break duly followed, although this time two errors by Zimonjic put his team on the defensive at 2-5 and they lost it 7-3.
In the third set, it was the Serbian who forced a breakthrough with a fine backhand down the line and the match's first break of serve, at the 28th attempt. Nestor and Zimonjic, though facing a break point for the first time, held out for 6-3.
Nestor forced the breakthrough in the fourth set and their opponents, restricted to one break point in the whole match, could hardly complain about the outcome.
Earlier, in the girls' doubles semi-final, the unseeded Britons Jocelyn Rae, 17, from Nottinghamshire and Jade Curtis, 18, from Cornwall took the first set off sixth seeds Jessica Moore of Australia and Polona Hercog of Slovakia before going down 4-6 6-3 6-4.
Jeremy Bates, partnering Anders Jarryd in a light-hearted senior doubles against Henri Leconte and the 52-year-old clown prince Mansour Bahrami, kept Laura Robson waiting for her final on Court One while achieving a third successive win in their round-robin group. They will contest the final against Ken Flach and Robert Seguso.
Britain's last representatives in the wheelchair event, the teenagers Gordon Reid and David Phillipson, lost their semi-final to the defending champions Robin Ammerlaan and Ronald Vink of Holland, 6-0 6-2.
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