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Bryan and Raymond reach final in quick time

Mike Bryan and Lisa Raymond celebrate during their semi-final doubles match against Nenad Zimonjic and Katarina Srebotnik.
by Matt Trollope
Saturday 7 July 2012

Mike Bryan and his partner, Lisa Raymond, are through to the mixed doubles final but his brother, Bob, will not be there after he and Liezel Huber - the No.1 seeds - were beaten by Leander Paes and Elena Vesnina.

Evens prevailed over odds in the mixed doubles semi-finals on Day 12 at Wimbledon, with fourth seeds Paes and Vesnina winning through to face second seeds Mike Bryan and Raymond.

The No.1 Court crowd was promised an exciting display of tennis given that the top four seeds had taken their places in the semi-finals. And they got it, witnessing an assured performance from Bryan and Raymond in the first match, against Nenad Zimonjic and Katarina Srebotnik, before being treated to an exciting, absorbing display of all-court tennis in the second.

Paes and Vesnina combined exceptionally well throughout their battle with top seeds Bob Bryan and Liezel Huber, but initially, they found the going tough. Not even the unintentional yet painful blast of a Paes missile into Huber’s torso could stop the American combination from gaining an early break of serve and forging ahead 4-2.

But the Indian-Russian pairing soon began to settle into the contest. They broke back shortly after and again in the 11th game, and when Paes played a delicate drop-volley for a winner, the No.4 seeds had secured a one-set lead.

The Americans hit back in the second set, breaking serve in the third game and maintaining this advantage to level the match at one-set-all. It set the stage for an exciting one-set shoot out and, from the off, it didn’t disappoint.

The first game of the third stanza was one for the ladies. Vesnina out-volleyed and then out-rallied Bryan from the back of the court, eventually sending a forehand winner up the line past Huber to bring up break point and a massive cheer from the crowd. Yet that opportunity was erased by Huber, who outlasted Paes from the baseline to bring scores to deuce. Vesnina again starred, volleying a winner before the fourth seeds went on to hold.

Huber proved the weak link in the fourth game, committing a pair of errors to hand Paes and Vesnina a service break. When Paes consolidated the break to move ahead 4-1, it appeared nothing could stop them. Yet a sharp volley nearly did – Bryan sent a backhand volley straight into Paes’ mid-section in the eighth game, accidental pay-back for the Indian’s hit on Huber earlier in the match. The players and crowd shared a laugh.

But soon it was back to business. Surviving a raft of Vesnina winners, Bryan and Huber held serve for 3-5 to force the No.4 seeds to serve for it. And they did so in style – a Paes ace followed by a pair of volley winners completed a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 victory, sending the Indian-Russian combo into their second Grand Slam final of 2012.

Earlier in the day, on the same court, No.2 seeds Mike Bryan and Raymond overcame a slow start to dismiss No.3 seeds Zimonjic and Srebotnik.

The Americans fell behind an early service break before recovering it in the sixth game, a scorching low return from Bryan eliciting a volley error from Srebotnik and helping level at 3-3. Well-placed returns by Raymond saw the second seeds gain a second break to lead 5-3, and they secured the set following a spirited volley exchange at net that Bryan ended with a winner into the vacant alley.

The sharpness of Bryan and Raymond at net again proved a decisive factor in the second set – a reflex stop-volley by Raymond forced Srebotnik to dig up the reply, which Raymond then smashed away to extend the Americans’ lead to 3-1.

Games progressed on serve for the remainder of the set, and when Bryan stepped up to the line to serve for the match at 5-4, he made no mistake, landing four powerful first serves to complete a 6-3, 6-4 victory in 55 minutes.


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