Each year, Wimbledon offers a great snapshot of the different generations that make up the sport.
You have the present, in the form of the world’s top singles and doubles players. You have the future, thanks to the juniors who give us a taste of the talent emerging in the game.
The past – that honour roll of champions that have graced the lawns of the All England Club – is revisited in the invitational doubles events.
On Saturday, several past men’s greats were in action, entertaining the crowds with their humorous antics, but also reminding them of what they can do when wielding a racket.
Opening proceedings on No.3 Court in the seniors’ division were showmen Mansour Bahrami and Henri Laconte, who took on Aussies Peter McNamara and Paul McNamee, aka the “Supermacs”. Bahrami, a 57-year-old dual Iranian and French citizen, was given a helping hand from the crowd, sourcing some muscle spray – in jest, no doubt – to continue in the match.
Alas, it did him no good, as the Australian duo went on to claim a 7-6(1), 6-4 victory, winning their first match of the tournament in their round robin group.
“It's always great to be here, to play at Wimbledon. It's such a great adventure. We played, we lost, but it's not a big thing. We had a great time,” Bahrami said.
Across on No.1 Court there were also plenty of antics.
In a match that saw Brit Barry Cowan and Frenchman Cedric Pioline taking on Cowan’s compatriot Chris Wilkinson and South Africa’s Wayne Ferreira, Pioline chose to sit down mid-point as Cowan did the entirety of the rallying for his team. That particular point ended after Ferreira head-butted the ball over the net for a winner.
Not a legal shot of course, it simply helped Cowan and Pioline on their way to winning 6-4 6-2.
The senior doubles’ event continued later in the day on Court 12, with top seeds Mark Woodforde and Pat Cash – another Australian combination – brushing aside Brit Andrew Castle and Guy Forget of France 6-2 6-3.
Woodforde, a six-time Wimbledon doubles champion, and Cash, the 1987 singles winner at the All England Club, topped their round robin group with three wins and no losses, and will progress to Sunday’s final.
The top seeds in the younger division, Todd Woodbridge and Jonas Bjorkman, concluded the invitational doubles action on Day 12 against Americans Justin Gimelstob and Todd Martin.
The Aussie-Swedish duo won a hat-trick of men’s doubles titles at Wimbledon from 2002 to 2004, but were unable to continue their winning ways against Gimelstob and Martin, taking the first set before falling in a match tie-break 3-6 6-2 [12-10].
Regardless of the result of this match, Greg Rusedski and Fabrice Santoro had sealed their place in the final after winning all three of their matches in the round robin stage.
20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
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