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Struggles for the Brits in doubles

Heather Watson hits a volley alongside doubles partner Laura Robson.
by Alexandra Willis
Thursday 28 June 2012

If British tennis players have experienced their best days in a little while at Wimbledon in the singles, Heather Watson becoming the first British female into the third round since compatriot Elena Baltacha in 10 years, it was sadly not a similar tale in their doubles efforts.

After an agonising five-set defeat for Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins against Mikhail Kukushkin and Lukas Rosol on Wednesday night, Naomi Broady and Johanna Konta, first up on Court 4, were out-experienced by the defending champions, Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik. Losing 2-6, 4-6 on their Wimbledon debut together, both Brits will be onto their next challenge.

There was an encouraging performance from wild cards Oliver Golding and Liam Broady, who took a set off the 12th seeds, Santiago Gonzalez and Christopher Kas, going down 6-7(2), 6-4, 3-6, 4-6. Both young men made their main draw singles debuts earlier this week, and will head back to the lower echelons of the tour in their bids to continually improve their rankings. Golding, of course, reaching the semi-finals of the boys’ singles here two years ago, before winning the US Open boys’ singles last year, while Broady was runner-up in the boys’ singles at Wimbledon last year.

Dominic Inglot, playing with Treat Conrad Huey of the Philippines, was downed 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 6-7(6), 7-9 by Israeli duo Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram, Josh Goodall and James Ward went down 6-7(3), 2-6, 4-6 to Aisam-Ul-Haq-Qureshi and Jean-Julien Roger, the eighth seeds, while qualifiers Lewis Burton and George Morgan showed promise by taking a set off Belgian duo Olivier Rochus and Steve Darcis 6-4, 5-7, 6-7(3), 4-6.

But the pair who drew the most attention, unsurprisingly, were Laura Robson and Heather Watson, competing on a packed Court 8 in the mid-afternoon throng. The young pair, who heard on Tuesday that they have been awarded a wild card into the doubles at the Olympic tennis event at Wimbledon, have combined well together on the doubles court, most notably in their performances for the British Fed Cup team in Israel this February.

But it wasn’t quite to be against the tricky pairing of Sabine Lisicki and Su-Wei Hsieh, who squeezed past the young Brits 6-3, 7-6(4).

“We've been working on a lot of things,” Watson said. “I think as a team we've come a long way already in just this short season that we've been playing together. If we keep playing, I think we're going to start doing really well.”

There was one positive though. Jonny Marray came through a titanic five-setter with partner Frederik Nielsen of Denmark, an avid Liverpool fan as so many Danes seem to be, knocking out the ninth seeds Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez, 6-7(3), 6-4, 7-6(4), 2-6, 7-5. Marray joins Jamie Murray in the second round of the doubles, who achieved a five-set win with Eric Butorac over two days on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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