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London bringing out the best in Max Mirnyi

Victoria Azarenka and Max Mirnyi celebrate gold
by William Denny
Saturday 5 July 2014

Max Mirnyi’s pursuit of his second mixed doubles title at Wimbledon took another giant step forward as he and partner Hao-Ching Chan defeated Daniel Nestor and Kristina Mladenovic 7-6(4), 7-5 on No.1 Court.

“It’s exciting to be in the deep end of the tournament,” said Mirnyi. “It has been a while for me here if you exclude the Olympics. No teams have looked at us as potential finalists and that helps in a way. We’ve had a lot of resistance from the first round and it’s just gratifying to be there and find a way to win time after time.”

After two breaks apiece, a cagey first set ended in a tie-break with Mirnyi and Chan coming out on top 7-4. But, the No.5 seeds responded in the second as Mladenovic, who earlier lost the ladies' doubles final, showed no signs of tiring as she executed an array of classy strokes. Her opposite number Chan, produced shots of similar ilk as the pairs edged closer towards another tie-break.

Yet, a timely break in the 11th game put Mirnyi, a winner of 12 Grand Slam doubles titles, and 20-year-old Chan in the ascendency as they served for the match. Despite a match point against them, aggressive tactics allowed Mladenovic to manoeuvre a sublime volley past Mirnyi before Nestor’s elegant touch saved match point No.2. But the earlier exertions from Mladenovic seemed to catch up with the young Frenchwoman as Mirnyi’s instinctive volley sealed the win.

“It’s fabulous because looking back over my career there are many moments that you can just point out as highlights and being in Wimbledon finals is certainly one of those,” he added. “I don’t know what it is, I’ve been here playing for a number of years and I’ve been in three mixed finals including the Olympics. It must be something to do with London and being with the girls I guess,” he joked.

“Tomorrow is the final game and we look up to the challenge and will use all the tools we have to try to overcome another opponent.”

In the other semi, Grand Slam champions Sam Stosur and Nenad Zimonjic won in straight-sets, 7-5, 6-2 against Aisam Qureshi and Vera Dushevina. The Serbian-Aussie partnership used all of their big match experience to beat the No.16 seeds offering no break points while converting three from an available seven.

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