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Friday, July 3, 2009

Murray beaten in mixed doubles semi

Photo Titled Jamie Murray and Liezel Huber
Jamie Murray and Liezel Huber

In the wake of Andy Murray's defeat in the men's singles, his elder brother Jamie exited the mixed doubles tournament at the semi-final stage as he and partner Liezel Huber lost in straight sets to 9th seeds Mark Knowles of the Bahamas and Germany’s Anna-Lena Groenefeld, 6-2, 7-5.

Both ladies lost their serves in the opening set, which meant the match was level-pegging. The subsequent loss of both Murray’s and Huber’s service games left Groenefeld serving for the first set 5-2. It was all looking rather easy for the Bahamas/Germany pairing. They bagged the set with an instinctive net response by Knowles which looped to the baseline before Huber could race back to retrieve.

The second set was more of a battle, though Murray continued to make heavy weather of his service. Knowles became increasingly predatory at the net, working another break point after a rat-a-tat volley. The unseeded pair had a chance on the Groenefeld serve, but supreme defending by the ninth seeds kept the pretenders at bay. Murray and Huber drew level at 4-4 with a strong game, and this might have been a turning point in the match for them. But it wasn’t. A searing, splitting service return down the centre line gave the seeds the opportunity to serve out the match. It took a couple of games more, but the result was never really in question.

In the other semi-final, it was formbook all the way as top seeds Leander Paes of India and Cara Black of Zimbabwe saw off the competition from 12th seeds Stephen Huss and Virginia Ruano Pascual in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4.

The first set went entirely as expected with the dominant Paes and Black needing just 35 minutes to wrap it up. The second set took just one minute longer in a match that was played with friendly humour not detracting from the competitive nature one iota.

Australian Huss and Spaniard Ruano Pascual have been showing exceptional form here, having knocked out the 4th seeds in the last round. But they weren’t able to make further progress. A break in the seventh game of the second set gave their opponents an unassailably strong position. Paes was aggressive and quick, all over the net, poaching anything that moved, whilst Black mopped up the long shots.

Huss served well at 3-5 to keep the 12th seeds in the match, the pair taking their time and making good shots, despite the best lobbing and angular efforts of the favourites. But Paes was not to be so generous on his own service game; not even a neat reflexive pick-up by Huss off his ankles into space was enough. The No.1 seeds earned two match points, and Paes took the first with an ace down the line.

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