By Phil James
- Ken and Neal Skupski lose five setter to 7th seeds Marcin Matkowski & Nenad Zimonjic
- Success for Dom Inglot/Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Jamie Murray/John Peers
- Heather Watson/Marina Erakovic fly the flag for the women
Ken and Neal Skupski lost a heart breaking five-setter in round one of the men’s doubles on Thursday, despite only dropping serve once all match, in a great day of Brit doubles action.
The brothers from Liverpool, ranked 125th and 124th respectively, lost 7-6(5) 1-6 4-6 7-6(4) 6-4 to seventh seeds Marcin Matkowski, from Poland, and Serbia’s Nenad Zimonjic. Matkowski and two-time Wimbledon doubles champion Zimonjic have 69 career titles between them, are both ranked in the world top 20, and were clear favourites to progress to round two – but the Brits hadn’t read the script.
Despite losing a tight first set on a breaker, the brothers hit back to dominate sets two and three to take them within reach of a famous upset whilst yet to face a break point. But in the fourth set Neal’s serve started to falter and the Liverpudlians had to save five break points to reach another tie break. The seventh seeds took the breaker, thanks largely due to a couple of net cords and a questionable umpire overrule, to force a final set.
By now a large crowd had gathered around court 16 but the home support could not will the Skupskis over the line. Though Ken was still holding serve comfortably, the veterans Matkowski and Zimonjic piled the pressure on Neal, finally breaking in the fifth game. The seventh seeds, despite a few missed match points, were able to serve out the match to secure the win in 3 hours and 9 minutes; the disappointment on Ken and Neal’s faces was as clear as the relief on their opponents’.
Older brother Ken is a veteran with three tour titles, and in 2013 he began playing with Neal, which meant entering Futures tournaments as Neal was without a ranking but their successful partnership saw him end the year inside the Top 100.
There was better luck for Heather Watson who reached the second round of the ladies’ doubles but Johanna Konta lost her second round match playing with American Maria Sanchez. Meanwhile Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot, partnering John Peers and Edouard Roger-Vasselin respectively, won their men’s doubles first round matches.
But James Ward and the all-British teams of Edward Corrie & Kyle Edmund and Luke Bambridge & Liam Broady lost their first round men’s doubles matches.
Friday sees the start of the Mixed doubles with Colin Fleming/Jocelyn Rae, Dom Inglot/Elina Svitolina and Jonny Marray/Anna Smith all on the schedule, with play starting on the outside courts at 12:15pm BST.