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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Walkover gives Murray mixed semi spot

Photo Titled Jamie Murray
Jamie Murray

Britain's Jamie Murray is two matches away from another Wimbledon title - two years on from his famous win alongside Jelena Jankovic - after he and mixed doubles partner Liezel Huber had a walkover into the mixed doubles semi-finals. The pairing's prospective opponents, 15th seeds Lukas Dlouhy and Iveta Benesova, both from the Czech Republic, withdrew prior to their quarter-final.

But there was plenty of other quarter-final action. Top seeds Leander Paes of India and Zimbabwean Cara Black made short work of their quarter-final against 11th seeds Andre Sa of Brazil and Japan’s Ai Sugiyama, winning in just over an hour, 6-3, 6-3.

Paes and Black started with an immediate break to build an early lead. They came under severe pressure in a long eighth game, but hung on to their serve. Then, with Sa serving at 3-5, some fierce returning gave the No.1 seeds the advantage and the set.

Paes who opened service at the beginning of the second set and the pair never looked like losing their momentum.

The 2nd seeds, and defending champions, Bob Bryan and Samantha Stosur were not so successful. In a tough contest, it was the 9th seeds Mark Knowles of the Bahamas and German Anna-Lena Groenefeld, who won in three sets, 0-6, 7-5, 6-3.

The first set was over in the blink of a tennis eye, in 19 minutes, as the 2nd seeds refused to let the 9th seeds take a game. But 37-year-old Knowles and 24-year-old Groenefeld were not to be pushed over so easily. The second set was full of closely-fought points, fine angles, and the odd ferocious volley. This time, the 9th seeds forced a deciding set.

And they pushed home their advantage, as Bryan and Stosur faded just a little. The reigning champions were unable to dig deep enough to pull out the win. Stosur served a safe game at 2-5 to keep the pair’s hopes alive, despite a fierce tight angled cross court winner from wide of the baseline by Knowles.

It was Knowles who could then serve out at 5-3. He and Groenefeld raced to three match points, of which they needed only the first.

The 4th seeds were also defeated by lower ranked opposition in a gritty match lasting 2 hours, 13 minutes. Kevin Ullyett of Zimbabwe and Su-Wei Hsieh of Chinese Taipei were put out by 12th seeds, Australian Stephen Huss and Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain, in three sets, 6-3, 5-7, 9-7.

After consistent play in the opening set by both pairs, with plenty of elegant, angular tennis, it was a break in the 8th game that gave Huss the pleasure of serving for the first set. The 12th seeds needed only one of the two set points they had carefully engineered.

The 4th seeds came out fighting in the second set, making an early break. But the Aussie/Spanish pair broke back after fast-running net play by the men, and a long return by Su-Wei Hsieh which Huss shouted at Virginia Ruano Pascual to leave. The match was levelled at 4-4, but come the end, the 4th seeds need only one break point to take the set.

The final set was filled with powerful ground strokes and delicately-angled volleys. And it wasn’t until the 15th game that Huss and Ruano Pascual broke serve, leaving the Spaniard to serve for the match. They worked up two match points thanks to some sterling net smashes by Huss. Another net poach by Huss with an acute angle gave the pair a place in the semi-final.

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