It may have taken them two days and seven match points, but the cheers from Court 14 could be heard all around the grounds as wild cards Jonathan Marray and Frederik Nielsen saw off eighth seeds Aisam Ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Roger 7-6(5), 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 5-7, 7-5 to reach the men’s doubles quarter-finals.
The duo, who requested a wild card after pairing up in Nottingham for the first time and reaching the final, had seen a match point come and go in the third set before falling foul of the extended rain delays on Monday afternoon. Returning to Court 14 on Tuesday, they suffered the agony of the eighth seeds taking the next two sets, and going ahead in the fifth, before fighting back to claim a raucous victory.
Nielsen, who like Marray supports Liverpool, as so many Danes seem to do, showed the occasion might be getting to him a little bit when he double-faulted while serving for the match, while both Rojer and Qureshi produced their best returns right at the death. But the Anglo-Danish duo converted in the end, the crowd erupting at the end as they set up a quarter-final against James Cerretani and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
Marray has reached the third round in doubles at Wimbledon twice before, in 2007 and 2009, only to be felled at that hurdle both times, which made reaching his first Grand Slam quarter-final all the more memorable.
“I mean it’s something, yeah I thought I probably could achieve if things came together,” Marray said. “I wouldn’t be playing if I didn’t think I could do well in these type of tournaments, so to get through to the quarters at least, it’s a big achievement, I’m proud of it and everything.
“I think I’m still improving as a player, still got a lot of things to learn, and hopefully can do well.”
The 31-year-old is in good company in the British men’s doubles fraternity, ranked No.5 behind Colin Fleming, Ross Hutchins, Jamie Murray, and Andy Murray, with Ken Skupski, Jamie Delgado and Dominic Inglot just behind him, all eight of them inside the world’s top 100.
“Just to see how well Colin and Ross did especially last year when they made the quarter-final here and in the US, to see they lost close matches, could have been in the semis, both tournaments, shows you, we train with them and everything, to see how they do so well, spurs you on to think you could be doing it as well,” Marray said. “So we’re all kind of after the same thing. It’s good to have people in the same boat.”
And, with unseeded opponents ahead of them, Marray is confident that he could turn a maiden major quarter-final into a maiden major semi-final.
“They’ll be thinking they’ve got a decent chance to win, and we’re thinking exactly the same, so it’s a 50-50 match so hopefully we can turn up on the day and get it done,” Marray said.
In less than seven match points, perhaps.