Photo: Eisele/Giubilo/ZimmerLaura Robson and Andy Murray (GBR)
LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN: Great Britain’s Laura Robson and Andy Murray will meet Belarus’s Victoria Azarenka and Max Mirnyi in the mixed doubles final at the Olympic Tennis Event, following semifinal wins for both pairs on Saturday.
The British duo battled past Sabine Lisicki and Christopher Kas of Germany 61 67(7) [10-7], while the Belarus pair defeated Lisa Raymond and Mike Bryan of USA 36 64 [10-7].
The atmosphere was deafening on No. 1 Court as Robson and Murray entered for their semifinal showdown, but it almost didn’t happen for the Brits after they came within a whisker of losing in the quarterfinal earlier in the day on Centre Court.
Due to the long singles matches on Friday, the British pair’s quarterfinal against Australians Samantha Stosur and Lleyton Hewitt was postponed until today, and it took all of their doubles craft and guile to get past the Aussies 63 36 [10-8].
Cheered on by a capacity crowd, the Brits continued the momentum into their match-up with Lisicki and Kas, flying out of the blocks to take a 3-0 lead. Lisicki held serve to reduce the arrears, but the Brits continued to dominate and wrapped up the first set 6-1 in a swift 20 minutes.
The Germans were now scrapping to stay alive and Lisicki staved off break points in her opening service game for an important hold, but the Brits kept knocking on the door and broke both Kas and Lisicki to go 4-2 up.
However, Robson was having problems holding her own serve, dropping it twice in a row to help the Germans get back on track. Serving at 5-6, the 18-year-old left-hander saved a set point before finally holding to force a tiebreak.
In a topsy-turvy breaker, the Brits led 3-0 before the Germans reeled off six straight points to move 6-3 ahead, only for the Brits to come back again and level at 6-6. Lisicki and Kas saw another chance slip away at 7-6, but when they reached their sixth set point at 8-7 a netted return from Murray sent the semifinal into a deciding match tiebreak.
The lead exchanged hands a number of times before Murray, serving at 5-6, fired two aces to move ahead. Two points later Robson had the chance to serve out the match from 8-7, and the young Brit duly obliged.
A body serve forced Kas to cough up a return that Murray finished off at the net, setting up a marathon match point that drew gasps and groans from the British fans desperate to see their players advance to the final.
In an incredible point, Lisicki hit the net cord twice as the rally went back and forth, with all four players involved. Lisicki finally sprayed a pass wide of the target to send Robson and Murray through to the final. The celebrations in the stands were wild.
“I enjoyed winning,” said Murray, who will meet Roger Federer in the men’s singles final on Sunday before competing for the mixed doubles gold medal. “I had my game face on when we were playing the match, that's for sure. Yesterday when I won the match, I was very emotional. Today I was very, very happy with both wins. Obviously both of us were because it's a new experience for the two of us.
“Again, keep going back to it, but in tennis we're so used to thinking the next week we have another chance. With the Olympics you're not guaranteed another chance. It's such a long way away. Anything can happen with your career. That's why every match is important here.”
It was a slightly more subdued affair later in the day on No. 1 Court when Azarenka and Mirnyi clinched their spot in the final, coming from a set down to beat Raymond and Bryan in 1 hour 54 minutes.
The match was dominated by serve with just one break in each set, the Americans taking the first and Belarusians taking the second. That meant a match tiebreak and it was the Belarusian top seeds who held their nerve to reach the final.
Azarenka and Mirnyi were in a similar position to the Brits at the start of the day as they still needed to win their quarterfinal match, which had been called off for bad light on Thursday evening. They returned on Friday and wrapped up a 75 76(5) win over Indians Sania Mirza and Leander Paes.
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