British tennis fans will have their loyalties divided in the mixed doubles final on Sunday with Heather Watson and Jamie Murray on different sides of the net as they both chase a second title.
Watson and partner Henri Kontinen, of Finland, are the defending champions, while Murray won the title ten years ago and is this time joined by the Swiss multiple Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis for what should be a marvellous final.
Watson and Kontinen made it into a second successive final by overcoming the stiff challenge posed by No.2 seeds Bruno Soares and Elena Vesnina 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3.
No. 1 seeds Murray and Hingis dominated their semi-final against Brazilian Marcelo Demoliner and Spaniard Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, winning 6-2, 7-5 on Centre Court.
It is a decade since Murray partnered Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic to the title and it was Hingis who was responsible for putting the pair together by calling Andy’s elder brother to see if he was available. Murray senior said “yes” and now he has the chance to make it another Wimbledon to remember for the family.
While Watson and Kontinen were involved in a real battle on No.1 court, Murray and Hingis were able to quickly impose their marvellous doubles skills on Centre and raced through the first set in just 21 minutes.
There was a real danger that Demoliner and Martinez Sanchez would be blown off court but they turned the second set into a real contest and it lasted twice as long as the opener.
Over on No.1 Court, the first set was dominated not only by Kontinen’s incredible ability to hold serve with ease, but also marriage proposals for both Watson and her partner. The interjections brought smiles from all four players.
Vesnina looked more secure than Soares and it was the Brazilian who was crucially broken in the ninth game. After 30 minutes the reigning champions were a set up with Watson happy to play a supporting role as the Finnish right-hander bounded around the court.
Soares continued to have problems holding serve – he saved ten break points in two service games – but showed great determination to keep Kontinen and Watson from building a lead.
Watson became more of a force in the second set and one high backhand volley drew applause from her partner.
However, all those break points were missed, as well as a match point for the holders after 90 minutes on court, and a tie-break settled it which eventually went the way of Soares and Vesnina 8-6.
Watson and Kontinen could have been deflated by those missed opportunities but redoubled their efforts and were quickly 4-1 up in the decider.
Soon afterwards they completed an entertaining three-set victory to set up an intriguing title decider on Sunday afternoon
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photo Cheltenham Racecourse