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No shortage of entertainment from past stars

Wayne Ferreira and Mark Petchey during the Gentlemen's Invitation Doubles
by William Denny
Thursday 3 July 2014

The invitational doubles provided entertainment and excitement in equal measure as always. 

The second week at the All England Club has seen more twists and turns than a theme park rollercoaster. The likes of Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova and reigning king of SW19 Andy Murray have already fallen by the wayside in pursuit of the coveted title.

While the tournament heats up for the present and future stars of the sport, waiting in the wings are a host of past masters returning to the stage where their legacies remain.

The colourful Mansour Bahrami had the responsibility of opening play on No.2 Court along with Henri Leconte, Mark Woodforde and Rick Leach in the senior event. The four provided some moments of sheer brilliance but, as expected when the trick-shot specialist Bahrami graces the turf, the crowd was treated to some playful moments including a cheeky double-ball serve, exaggerated volleys and a Bryan-esque chest pump.

However, the court jester’s antics were not enough as Woodforde, a six-time SW19 doubles champion, and Leach, the 1990 Wimbledon doubles winner, secured a 6-3, 7-6(7) victory in one hour and 23 minutes.

Lindsay Davenport, a six-time Grand Slam champion equally split between singles and doubles events, paired up with Mary Joe Fernandez in the younger division against former French Open winner Iva Majoli and Magdalena Maleeva. The No.1 seeds were toppled 5-7, 6-4, 8-10.

Closing play on No.2 Court was nine-time Wimbledon singles champion Martina Navratilova (20 titles if you include doubles) and Selima Sfar who took on Conchita Martinez and home favourite Anne Keothavong, who made 13 consecutive main draw appearances at Wimbledon. Navratilova would record yet another victory on the lawns of The Championships, 6-0, 6-1.

Last year’s finalists Greg Rusedski and Fabrice Santoro won for the second time in the round robin stage as they prevailed 4-6, 7-6(2), 10-7 on No.3 Court. Rusedski, a US Open finalist, and Santoro, a two-time Australian Open doubles winner, won a highly entertaining tie-break in set three to the adulation of the crowd.

The play didn’t end with past pros as Jacco Eltingh and Paul Haarhuis invited a ball girl onto the court in order to outgun Wayne Ferreira and Mark Petchey. The extra pair of hands were enough for a 7-5, 7-5 Dutch win.

Other names involved on Day 10 of The Championships included wild card Wimbledon winner Goran Ivanisevic, two-time Grand Slam finalist Mark Philippoussis and 1993 All England Club singles finalist Jana Novotna. The remaining British contingent was made up of Andrew Castle, Jeremy Bates and Chris Wilkinson.

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