The bad news for British tennis fans is that Jamie Murray and Venus Williams’ mixed doubles campaign didn’t end until the second round. The good news is that they lost to a British pair, Jonny O’Mara and Alicia Barnett, whose combination of chutzpah and stamina instantly gave them a pair of replacement heroes.
An epic 34-point tie-break in the third set provided enough thrills to make up for the glamorous pair’s early exit, and added many memorable Williams moments to his already bloated record here at Wimbledon. After a classic Venus winner deep in the baseline brought her and Murray to 13-12, she threw her head back and roared like a lion – only for her counterpart Barnett to pull off a burst of her own at the net and saves the next game. indicate.
In the end, O’Mara and Barnett won on their fifth attempt to take a match point, and seemed so amazed and delighted with their achievement that no one in the place would have blamed them for a second. It’s not often you’ll hear a British crowd cheering on a Murray, but love for the underdog still reigns supreme in SW19, and the couple of O’Mara and Barnett also had a sizable bank of personal support sitting in it. in the bleachers.
They were not intimidated by their prestigious opponents. Barnett was happy to take charge of the net, while O’Mara kept her motivated with a constant stream of encouragement and instruction. “Here, then there,” quickly became a No. 2 Court catchphrase before every serve from Barnett, although he left onside commentary after he appeared to distract his partner from her shots.
By comparison, Murray and Williams seemed like a relatively quiet pair. There was less thrill in this game than in their opener – maybe after their performance on center court they decided they were there to win it, not entertain. They won the first set 6-4 and took a break in the second, but Barnett fought back with a pass through Murray that seemed to surprise her as much as her opponent and prompted an outright win.
O’Mara also took advantage of his own magical moment against Murray, a blinding return of serve that put them on hold to give them the second set. What came out was a charming display of teamwork and initiative. When they struggled to get the ball past Murray, they teamed up against him and even tried the same tactic on Williams, although she faced them and prevailed in a rally against their combined ground shots.
The pair continued to fight after an early break in the third and by the time they returned serve, 5-4 and 30-30, the upset looked decidedly – although neither team could see it take as long as it did.