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Monday, July 6, 2009

Knowles and Groenefeld win mixed

Photo Titled Knowles and Groenefeld
Knowles and Groenefeld

Mark Knowles and Anne-Lena Groenefeld sprang a surprise in the mixed doubles final, beating top seeds Leander Paes and Cara Black to bring the curtain down on Wimbledon 2009.

Knowles from the Bahamas and Germany’s Groenefeld produced some fine tennis to come back from two breaks down in the first set to take it 7-5, before running away with the second 6-3.

Groenefeld was in particularly inspired form, delivering some fine returns throughout the match. This and her obvious will to win delighted Knowles, who has waited 18 years to win a Wimbledon doubles title. “It's the one title that I haven't won in men's doubles,” said Knowles. “I've always wanted to win Wimbledon. Like everybody, it's the tournament we all look up to.

“It's extremely special. Anna played fantastic for the entire fortnight. She pretty much carried me to my first title. No one else has been able to do it. But Anna did it. So it feels great.”

Knowles revealed that this can be counted as a rare British success, at least in part. “My mother's British,” he explained. “I have a British passport. I came here when I was nine years old to watch the Borg/McEnroe final.”

He and Groenefeld had been up against two very experienced opponents, with plenty of previous Wimbledon silverware. Paes, the 1999 mixed doubles champion with Lisa Raymond and the 2003 champion with Martina Navratilova, was dreaming of a third SW19 crown after he and Black raced into a 5-2 lead – both the Knowles and Groenefeld serves buckling under early pressure.

But Knowles and Groenefeld, the ninth seeds, are made of sterner stuff, emphasised by their wins over fifth seeds Daniel Nestor and Elena Vesnina and second seeds Bob Bryan and Sam Stosur on their way to the final.

They proceeded to win the next eight games of the match, breaking four times in a row. Groenefeld’s fine lob from the baseline at set point on the Black serve sailed over the head of Paes and landed inside the opposite baseline to win the set 7-5.

Knowles held in the first game of the second set before Paes’ serve was broken thanks largely to some fierce returns from Groenefeld.

Knowles and Groenefeld’s purple patch continued as the German held serve under pressure from Paes and Black at 2-0, 0-30.

The remaining games all went with serve with Knowles closing out the match and the Championships with a serve that Black could not return.

“We played very well together at the French Open so we knew we were capable of doing pretty well,” said Groenefeld after winning her first Grand Slam title. “Here we were almost out in the quarters when we lost the first set 6 0, but we kept fighting. After that we believed in ourselves and we always said ‘OK, we have the chance to win’ and we went for it.”

Centre Court - Mixed Doubles - Finals
Leander Paes IND (1)/
Cara Black ZIM (1)
Mark Knowles BAH (9)/
Anna-Lena Groenefeld GER (9)

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