Murray brothers set to face off in the Fantasy Mixed Doubles final


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By Sarah Edworthy

Semi-final Match Reports

Serena Williams and Andy Murray beat Heather Watson and Henri Kontinen 7-5, 6-3

In front of a roaring crowd, wild cards Serena Williams and Andy Murray beat 2016 Wimbledon champions Heather Watson and Henri Kontinen 7-5 6-3 to advance to their first ever mixed doubles final as a pair. What an entertaining match! The straight-sets victory belied a tight, ferociously fought contest, which was ultimately won by the quick-fire net play and a bombardment of winning returns from the power-partners of singles tennis.

Just as in their quarter-final triumph over 2007 Wimbledon champions Jelena Jankovic and Jamie Murray, the MurRena show was an emphatic masterclass in playing the big points with class and guile.

Watson, happy to counter-punch with her own brand of aggression, and the big-serving Finn displayed plenty of specialist acumen to keep the score level in the first set. At 5-5, Watson’s serve wavered. The game was chock-full of enterprise from all four – a terrific Watson backhand, a sublime Kontinen forehand, deft volleying from Williams, awesome court-covering from Murray – but it was the superstar pairing who broke, and went on to high-five triumphantly after establishing a one-set lead.

Rattled, perhaps, by that setback, Watson and Kontinen struggled to cope with the implausibly angled winners that just kept fizzing off Williams’ racket. Two breaks down early in the second set, they failed to convert crucial break points, though there were plenty of ping-pong rallies to prompt a chorus of ooohs and aaahs from the crowd. Ultimately, Murray hit a glorious smash from the baseline to wrap up the match.

“We’re getting in the groove of things, we’re starting to feel the rhythm,” said Serena ominously, anticipating her third career mixed doubles final, where she and Murray will face Martina Hingis and Jamie Murray.

Martina Hingis and Jamie Murray beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray 7-6 (9),  7-6 (10)

Talk about meeting your match! When two-time US Open champions Jamie Murray and Bethanie Mattek-Sands faced back-to-back 2017 Grand Slam winners Jamie Murray and Martina Hingis, the difference was inevitably going to boil down to partnership chemistry and the particular performance level, on the day, of the distaff element of each pairing.

Let’s be frank: Jamie Robert Murray OBE playing Jamie Robert Murray OBE effectively nullifies half the challenge – he could hardly out-play, out-wit or out-think himself. (It is a very different challenge from a match-up between “mirror twins”, like left-handed Bob Bryan vs right-handed Mike.)  In the event, it was the wily, ever-smiling Hingis whose exemplary choice of shots at key moments earned the pairing a place in the final, after the tightest of encounters and tensest of tie-breaks.

For much of the play, it looked like Murray and Mattek-Sands might sneak the edge. The pair bring such energy to each point contested, but their efforts were never quite enough to capitalise when they had the advantage, and Murray and Hingis pounced to win the first tie-break 11-9. At one point, Murray took a tumble as he rushed towards the net for a return. Mattek-Sands continued to play without him, but couldn’t save the point. At 6-6 in the second set, a crowd-thrilling decider looked on the cards, but Murray and Hingis again tightened their hold to continue their remarkable unbeaten run.  Alas, for Bethanie it was not #GameSetMattek.


Final = Serena Williams and Andy Murray vs Martina Hingis and Jamie Murray

On one level, the Fantasy Mixed Doubles final is an intriguing encounter between two great singles champions and a garlanded pair of doubles specialists, power play versus tactical nous. On another level, the deciding factor could be sibling dynamics.

This will be only the third time the Murray brothers have faced each other in their professional careers. And it is Jamie who is 2-0 in career wins over his younger sibling: in Montreal 2015, he and John Peers beat Andy and Leander Paes; in Cincinnati last year, he and Neal Skupski defeated Andy and Feliciano Lopez.

Andy has said he hates being on the opposite side of the net from Jamie. However, alongside Serena – who has won 22 doubles titles with her sister, but holds an 18-12 head-to-head record when playing against Venus – Andy seems determined to avert natural deference, and go all out to claim his first mixed doubles title. “Serena and I are both the younger sibling, so we're used to being bossed by our older brother and sister,” he said, suggesting it is time to turn the tables on Jamie.  With Hingis’s surreal level of play, it looks set to be a thriller.

Vote for your favourite!

Be sure to head over to the LTA' Twitter to vote for your all-time favourite British pairs in the Fantasy Mixed Doubles Tournament.

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