July 7, 2006

Wimbledon - Doubles Update

July 6th, 2006
Wow...what a match... A five setter with 4 tie-breaks...!!!!

Leander Paes and Martin Damm on Wednesday moved into the semifinal of the Wimbledon men's doubles competition when they defeated Australian Paul Hanley and Kevin Ullyet of Zimbabwe in a thrilling five-setter here. Seventh seeded Paes and Damm came from behind to win the match 7-6 (10/8) 6-7 (5/7) 6-7 (5/7) 7-6 (9-7) 6-2 against the fourth seeded combination.
But forget Paes' 5-setter match with 4 tie-breaks.. a more interesting match on the same day was the other mens doubles quater finals match which turned out to be the longest ever doubles match lasting 6 hours and 9 minute ... 5-7, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 23-21 ... (remember no tie-break in last deciding set at Wimbledon). Some records about the match from the above two links..
  • 6 hours and 9 minutes of gruelling tennis to reach the Wimbledon semifinals, wrapping up a historic 5-7, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 23-21 victory over Simon Aspelin of Sweden and Todd Perry of Australia on Wednesday. The quarter-final match started Tuesday but was halted due to darkness with the fifth set tied 11-11. The final set lasted 3:13, longer than a typical doubles matches usually lasts.
  • The previous longest doubles match at a Grand Slam tournament was 5:29 at the 1990 Australian Open when Pieter Aldrich and Danie Visser of South Africa beat Scott Davis and Robert Van't Hof of the United States in five sets, including 23-21 in the deciding set.
  • The previous longest doubles match at Wimbledon was 5:05 in 1985 when Heinz Gunthardt of Switzerland and Balazs Taroczy of Hungary beat Paul Annacone of the U.S. of Christo Van Rensburg of South Africa in five sets - 24-22 in the fifth.
  • The longest doubles match in tennis history was 6:20 in a 2002 Davis Cup semifinal between Argentina and Russia.
  • The longest in singles was 6:31, a first-round five-setter at the 2004 French Open won by Fabrice Santoro over fellow Frenchman Arnaud Clement.
  • Aspellin, Perry, Nestor and Knowles did not displace Gene Scott, Nikki Pilic, Cliff Ritchie and Torben Ulrich, who share the record for the most games -- 98 -- at Wimbledon after a 1966 marathon. Yesterday's match ran to 87 games. ...
Nestor and Knowles won't have much chance to rest before facing top-seeded American brothers Bob and Mike Bryan in the semifinals Friday. Both have mixed doubles matches Thursday, although that's not where their focus will be. Nestor and Knowles are eager to add a Wimbledon title to their resume. They've never finished better than runner-up at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, losing in the 2002 final. They're in the Wimbledon semis for a fourth time.

July 7th, 2006

Every one will probably read about and follow the Mens singles final (facile wins today for both Federer and Nadal mean we will see the expected and prospectively "blockbuster" #1 - #2 match-up between Nadal and Federer on Sunday; a repeat of the 2006 French Open finals last month, which Nadal won) and the Womens singles final (again, an interesting match-up; a repeat of the 2006 Australian Open finals in this case, which Mauresmo won by default when Justin Henin-Hardene quit due to a stomach injury).....

.... But you probably will miss reading about the doubles matches, which do not get much coverage but still hold a lot of excitement to tennis fans. So...here I am to enlighten and inform :)
(Note: I'm rooting for Federer (playing 'close to perfection') and Justin Henin-Hardene to win the singles titles. I have raved about Federer elsewhere yesterday evening but Justin, who has reached the final in all three Grand Slam events this year, and with a win Saturday, she would become the 10th woman to win all four major titles, is also a personal favorite for her efficiency, her well-rounded game, which is not dependent merely on a booming service, and her never-give-up attitude.)

Mens Doubles:
FINALS: Fabrice Santoro (France) and Nenad Zimonjic (Serbia) vs. Bob & Mike Bryan (US) ....Saturday.

7th seeded Paes-Damm, who lost to the Bryan brothers in the Australian Open finals this year but went down early in the first round at the French open last month, today lost their semi-finals match against 6th seeded pair of Frenchman Fabrice Santoro and Serb Nenad Zimonjic, losing in just over 90 minutes 6-2, 6-1, 7-5. Santoro and Zimonjic have dropped just one set in the tournament and even beat No.2 seeds Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi in straight sets in the quarters.

In the other semi-finals, Knowles-Nestor, who won the afore-mentioned 6 hour 9 minute marathon match in the previous round, lost to the #1 seeded Bryan brothers.

Incidentally, I thought the Bryan brothers had won quite a few Grand Slam doubles titles but found out just now that they have only 3 Grand Slam doubles titles - one each at Aus, French, and US Open and no Wimbledon yet although they have reached the finals (and lost) on 6 other occasions.
Won Grand Slam men's doubles title in:
May, 2003 Roland Garros, France - beat Paul Haarhuis (NED) / Yevgeny Kafelnikov (RUS) 7-6 (3), 6-3
Sep, 2005 US Open, New York, USA - beat Jonas Bjorkman (SWE) / Max Mirnyi (BLR) 6-1 6-4
Jan, 2006 Australian Open, Melbourne, AUS - beat Leander Paes (IND) / Martin Damm (CZE) 4-6 6-3 6-4
Reached finals and lost:
2003: US Open (lost to Jonas Bjorkman / Todd Woodbridge)
2004: Australian Open (lost to Michael Llodra / Fabrice Santoro)
2005: Australian Open (lost to Wayne Black / Kevin Ullyett)
2005: French Open (lost to Jonas Bjorkman / Max Mirnyi)
2005: Wimbledon (lost to Stephen Huss / Wesley Moodie
2006: French Open (lost to Jonas Bjorkman / Max Mirnyi)
Maybe this is the year for a Wimbledon doubles title for the Bryan twins!

Women's Doubles:
The Chinese are in the finals of a Grand Slam event again!!
FINALS: Yan Zi & Zheng Jie (China) vs. Virginia Ruano Pascual (ESP) & Paola Suarez (ARG) .... Sunday
The fourth seeded Chinese duo of Yan Zi and Zheng Jie, who made history by capturing the Australian Open crown in January, beat the seventh seeded pair, Martina Navratilova (US) and Liezel Huber (RSA), 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 yesterday morning and today went on to beat #2 seeds Cara Black and Rennae Stubbs to set up a finals encounter with Virginia Pascual & Paola Suarez, who have won eight career Grand Slam titles together but have not reached the finals of a Grand Slam event since the 2005 French Open. The veteran duo came unseeded to this tournament but are on a roll, even upsetting #1 seeds Samantha Stosur and Lisa Raymond in the third round itself.
The Pascual-Suarez duo too, like the Bryan brothers, have won the other 3 Grand Slams but not Wimbledon...So once again, like in the men's doubles, probably a great chance for a good doubles team to win for the first time at Wimbledon... but to do that they will have to beat the Chinese, the new powerhouse in womens doubles tennis (my blogpost). Interestingly, even in singles, the Chinese are coming up fast with Li Na making history for China earlier this week as she became the first woman from China to reach the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam singles event.)

Mixed Doubles

In wrote yesterday evening about Martina Navratilova losing her mixed doubles match, her last match at Wimbeldon. She was partnering with Knowles, who was coming of his marathon mens doubles match and Martina herself was coming off a womens doubles loss earlier in the day.
Another match I missed yesterday was that Leander Paes, seeded fourth with Samantha Stosur of Australia, lost 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 to the unseeded American duo of Venus Williams-Bob Bryan in the quarter finals.

Venus-Bryan went on to beat #2 seeds Max Mirnyi BLR (2) & Jie Zheng CHN in the semis today - so, Bob Bryan has a chance for a doubles title in mens doubles as well as mixed doubles this time!
Also, although one of the two Williams sisters is missing from the Wimbledon women's singles finals for the first time since 1999, there is a Williams sister playing in at least one of the 4 finals at Wimbeldon this year - albeit the least attention-grabbing mixed doubles finals - whose schedule is even not fixed typically ("The Mixed Doubles Final will be played on either Saturday 8th or Sunday 9th July, on Centre or No.1 Court," says the official Wimbledon site; and historically this match is often times played on Monday after the tournament is officially all but over!)
The other semi-finals is not over yet...so the finals draw is not yet finalized.

And writing about tennis doubles... a quick note about the stars of mens doubles in the last 15+ years.. Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde. The 'Woodies', as they were called, won a record 61 ATP doubles titles as a team, including 11 Grand Slam events and the gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and a silver medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. After Woodforde retired from the tour in 2000, Woodbridge established a partnership with Jonas Björkman, (who was overwhelmed completely today by Roger Federer in the men's singles semi-finals), which resulted in five Grand Slam event titles in four years. In all, Woodbridge won 16 and Woodforde won 12 men's Grand Slam doubles titles. (trivia: Woodbridge's first Grand Slam doubles final win was in 1989 with John McEnroe as his partner!)
Well.. the Woodies are back!
Six years after their sixth and final victory together on Centre Court, Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde – known affectionately as ‘The Woodies’ – returned to Wimbledon to play in the 35 & over invitation gentlemen’s doubles this week. The Woodies have six Wimbledon Championships together, including five in a row from 1993-1997, and then again in 2000, Woodforde’s retirement year. Woodbridge went on to win the Championship a further three times with Bjorkman, giving him the record for the winner of the most gentlemen’s doubles Wimbledon championships. Both Woodies have also been victorious in the mixed doubles – Woodforde in 1993 with one Martina Navratilova, and Woodbridge the following year with Helena Sukova.

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