THE CHAMPIONSHIPS 2012
Marray/Nielsen Triumph In Magical Wimbledon Run
by Matt Fitzgerald|
Jonathan Marray and Frederik Nielsen capped off a magical run at The Championships Saturday, defeating fifth seeds Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 6-3 to become the first men’s wild card pair in Wimbledon history to lift the doubles trophy.
“Every kind of sportsperson has injuries I'm sure at a time in their career. When you're not really doing so well, those moments you kind of second guess yourself whether you want to carry on or not,” said Marray. “But I felt like I had a bit of unfinished business and things like that, so I'm more than happy to have made the decision to carry on.”
The history-making effort was twofold, as Marray is the first homegrown player to triumph in the doubles final at the All England Club since 1936, when the British tandem of Pat Hughes and and Raymond Tuckey won it in five sets. Nielsen is the first Danish man to win a Grand Slam singles or doubles title, going one step further than his grandfather Kurt Nielsen, who was the singles runner-up at Wimbledon in 1953 and 1955. Prior to Saturday, Kurt was the only player from Denmark to win a Grand Slam trophy at the senior level, partnering Althea Gibson to the 1957 US Open mixed doubles crown.
“It means more because it's Wimbledon. Maybe because of my family history, I have a different relationship with Wimbledon. That's possible,” said Nielsen. “But I don't think the fact that my granddad used to do well is going to make it even more special. I think the fact that it is just Wimbledon, it carries its name by itself pretty well.”
Marray and Nielsen, playing in their first tour-level tournament together, defeated four seeded teams en route to the title. In addition to their final victory over Lindstedt and Tecau, the Brit and Dane knocked out ninth seeds Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez in the first round, edged No. 8 seeds Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer in a five-set thriller in the third round, and ousted second-seeded defending champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan in the semi-finals.
The highlight of the match was not an act of skill, but an act of sportsmanship. Holding a 4-0 lead in the third set tie-break, Marray and Nielsen looked to extend their advantage, as Marray cut a backhand volley that Lindstedt was unable to return in play. But after following through on his shot, Marray instantly called a foul on himself, saying his racquet hit the net. Nielsen also pointed to the tape, and the point was awarded to Lindstedt and Tecau. The Swedish/Romanian pair brought the tie-break back to 4-3, but Marray and Nielsen held on to clinch it on Nielsen’s serve.
“Freddy had a great serve. I had a sitter on top of the net. As I hit the volley, I followed through and touched the top of the net. So basically it's their point,” Marray recalled.
During a rain delay following the conclusion of the third set, ESPN commentator Darren Cahill said, “He knew straight away. Well done young man. You cannot give enough credit to Jonathan Marray for conceding that point immediately.”
Lindstedt and Tecau were bidding to win their first Grand Slam team title, and are just the second team in the Open Era to lose their first three Wimbledon finals, joining Robert Lutz and Stan Smith who lost in 1974, 1980 and 1981. They had won nine matches in a row after winning the ATP World Tour 250 grass-court event in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
It was the first time since 1998 that the doubles final went five sets, when Jacco Eltingh and Paul Haarhuis topped five-time reigning champions Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(3), 5-7, 10-8.