The British nation may still be waiting to end the 76 long years since Fred Perry became the last British man to win a Grand Slam singles title, but Jonny Marray, the 31-year-old from Sheffield, ended a wait of another sort when he and Frederik Nielsen advanced to the semi-finals of the men’s doubles here at Wimbledon.
Marray became the first British man to reach a Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Doubles semi-final since 1977, as he and Nielsen, a plucky Dane, triumphed in five sets, 7-6(5), 7-6(4), 6-7(3), 2-6, 6-2 over James Cerretani and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
The first pair into the semi-finals, the Anglo-Danish duo survived a heavy momentum swing against them as they surrendered the third and fourth sets, but bounced back strongly in the fifth.
Nielsen is the first Danish man to reach such a stage of a doubles Grand Slam, and is in fact the first Danish man to reach a Grand Slam semi-final of any kind since his grandfather, Kurt Nielsen, reached the semi-finals of the Gentlemen’s Singles at Wimbledon in 1955.
The pair have only been playing together since joining forces in Nottingham last month, where they reached the final, but so far it is a partnership reaping huge rewards.
“This is by far the biggest week of my career. It’s a huge deal for me,” Marray said. “I’ve been playing at Wimbledon for a decade now and to get this result is just massive. I think you can probably tell by how we reacted at the end of the match just what it means to us to have got through. I remember watching Wimbledon on the TV when I was younger and now here I am into the semi-finals with Freddie. It’s a really special moment.
“The match itself was another close one. We seem to have played a lot of tie-breaks this week and we’ve had some really long matches but I always thought we could do quite well. Freddie and I have only played one tournament together this year, a Challenger in Nottingham so even though we’re not a regular doubles partnership we’ve pulled it out of the bag today. But we know we’ve got a long way to go. We’re only in the semi-finals at the moment, but we’ve beaten a couple of seeded pairs already so if we can keep playing the way we have then we have a shot.”
The pair will next meet either Bob and Mike Bryan, the second seeds, or Scott Lipsky and Rajeev Ram, another American double-act, to fight it out for a place in the final.