Wimbledon `97: Jensens' disappearing act

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The Independent Online
The colourful doubles act that is the brothers Jensen, Murphy and Luke, arrived at Wimbledon this year with the firm intention of staying a while.

With Murphy's disappearing act a couple of years a blot on the Americans' copybook - he "went fishing" without telling his mother, brother or doubles- partner, Brenda Schultz-McCarthy - they were keen to make a more lasting impression on Monday.

However, their stay lasted little more than two hours before losing in the first round to the seventh-seeded Australians Mark Philippoussis and Pat Rafter, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

From the moment the doubles teams walked on the court, it was obvious who the crowd favoured. Not the Americans. Instead, hundreds of teenage girls in every corner of the stands could be heard whistling and screaming, "c'mon, Pat" or "let's go, Mark" between every point.

Seemingly unconcerned, the Jensens got off to a good start, taking the first set after breaking Philippoussis' service in the fifth game.

The Jensens were notably courteous with the ball-boys, saying "thanks, dude" after every ball they received.

Luke, who is ambidextrous, often switched hands in the middle of a service game. At set point in the first set, the brothers bumped chests after Murphy put away a hard volley.

The brothers gathered momentum in the second set, but after Luke struck a young spectator with an errant return of serve, the brothers seemed to tense up. Luke went over to the girl and apologised, and later brought her a Wimbledon towel as a souvenir.

Over the next few games, the Jensens stopped their tomfoolery, opting instead for a more conservative approach to the match. Which, however, is not what they are about, and the Jensens were quickly back to their chattering and horsing around.

The two Australians broke Luke's serve in the sixth game and quickly took the set after holding consecutive service games. In the third set, the Jensens were broken again and Rafter was soon serving for the match at 5-4.

Even turning his shirt inside out for the final game did not help Luke.

With the Jensens gone, the lack of characters at Wimbledon this year is even more apparent. Andre Agassi, the vibrant Las Vegan, is absent and it is not only female fans missing him: Pete Sampras, the No 1 seed, would also like to see him back in SW19.

Sampras, who is seeking a fourth Wimbledon triumph, said: "Andre's absence really hurts the game. He is one of the most popular players and brought a lot of attention to the game. We definitely need him.

"When I played Andre quite a bit a couple of years ago he made me a better player. It was exciting walking out with him for the US Open final. It was one of the few times I really felt the electricity from the crowd and the media.

"So you kind of want that challenge and rivalry that can get you up and going. Andre is obviously missed but the longer you are out, the tougher it is to come back. He has the talent and the game, it is just getting it back together."