The Championships, Wimbledon
World's Top Two Teams Battle For Wimbledon Crown
by James Buddell|
The world's two standout doubles teams will continue their growing rivalry in the Wimbledon final after defending champions Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic rallied from two sets down to beat Mardy Fish and James Blake 5-7, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(3), 10-8 in the semi-finals Thursday. The Belgrade-born duo will play top seeds and former champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan.
Nestor and Zimonjic lead the head-to-head series against the Bryans 5-3, with all of their clashes having come in title matches. The Canadian-Serbian duo won their past two meetings to clinch the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles at Monte-Carlo and Rome this past spring, while the Bryans opened the year by defeating their rivals in the Sydney final. In a dramatic finish to the 2008 season, Nestor and Zimonjic wrested the No. 1 team ranking from the Bryans with victory over the American twins in the Tennis Masters Cup final.
Nestor and Zimonjic, the No. 2 seeds at The Championships, toiled for nearly three hours on Centre Court to earn their place in the final. They went up a decisive break against the unseeded Americans in the 17th game of the 60-minute fifth set before closing out the match on serve.
The duo has a perfect 11-0 record at The All England Club, clinching the title on their team’s Wimbledon debut with victory over Jonas Bjorkman and Kevin Ullyett in last year’s final. Nestor completed the career Golden Slam with the triumph, six years after reaching his first Wimbledon final with long-time partner Mark Knowles, while Zimonjic claimed his first Grand Slam singles title in his fourth major final. He also was a Wimbledon finalist in 2004 and ’06.
The Bryans booked their places in a fourth final at The Championships after defeating ninth seeds Wesley Moodie of South African and Belgian Dick Norman, 7-6(4), 7-6(3), 6-4 on Court One. The Bryans avenged their recent shock loss to Moodie and Norman in the semi-finals of Roland Garros, where the Americans lost in three sets despite winning the first set to love.
The 31-year-old twins, who captured the 2006 Wimbledon title over Fabrice Santoro and Zimonjic, will attempt to capture their eighth Grand Slam championship title and 54th tour-level doubles crown in Saturday’s final. It will be the pair’s 15th Grand Slam championship final (7-7 record).
The Bryans proved just why they are so tricky to break, with some awesome defence in the 45-minute first-set, which was decided on a tie-break. Mike Bryan gave the Americans a 2-0 lead, with a superb backhand winner down the line – passing Moodie. The duo maintained the mini-break, remaining rock solid at the net to set up three set points at 6-3. Two opportunities went begging, but Mike Bryan showcased excellent defence from a Moodie volley-barrage to clinch the opener. While the Bryans hit 14 unreturned serves to Norman and Moodie’s 19, the duo committed just one unforced error to their opponents' 13. They also won 29 of 32 service points.
Moodie, a Roland Garros finalist (w/Norman), AEGON Championships (w/Youzhny) and Ordina Open (w/Norman) champion in recent weeks, began to feel the weight of more than 13 hours on court at the All England Club, when he asked chair umpire Carlos Bernardes at the start of the second set, “Is it just me or was that a quick change of ends?” Bernardes, a long-time umpire on the ATP World Tour circuit, answered deadpan, “No, it’s just you. You’re tired!”
When 30-year-old Moodie snapped a racquet frame and broke a string on return of serve, in the space of three games, his temperament didn’t change and some fine serving from the South African and Norman meant the second set would be decided on a tie-break.
Mike Bryan regained the early mini-break with a forehand volley and a low backhand return which Norman would only backhand volley into the net. Bob Bryan hit two unreturned serves for a 5-2 lead, before Mike Bryan passed Norman at the net with a blocked backhand return that helped the Californians secure a two-sets-to-love lead. The pair hit 15 winners, including nine at the net, and committed just two unforced errors.
Moodie and Norman never got close to breaking the Bryans serve in the third set. The pressure became too much to beat for Norman, a 38-year-old tour veteran, when he fell to 0/40 in the 10th game. The Belgian single-handedly saved three match points with three consecutive aces. Match points numbers four and five were saved by terrific sliced serves from left-handed Norman. Moodie came to the rescue with a backhand volley winner on the Bryans' sixth match point. But at the seventh time of asking, the Bryan brothers were able to wrap up victory in two hours and three minutes.
The Bryans had withstood 26 aces from the racquets of Moodie and Norman, hitting 49 winners – including six aces. It was the pair's fourth straight sets win at The Championships this year.