Andy Murray and Serena Williams may be the most feted mixed-doubles pairing in the world, but Soares and his American partner Nicole Melichar are the top seeds here, and they played like it in a slick 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 victory.
Of course the fans would have loved to see more of Team SerAndy – or was it Team MurRena? And there is part of the problem. Playing just their third match together, Murray and Williams hadn’t even decided which portmanteau word to use, let alone started to anticipate each other’s position on the court.
Contrast those early confusions with Team MeliRes – as no-one is calling them – who are contesting their third straight slam. Their alignment was so perfect, their interplay so instinctive, that there was hardly a blade of grass they failed to cover
Meanwhile Soares – who won two grand-slam titles with Jamie Murray before they split at the French Open last month – was serving 126mph bombs and returning like a boomerang. On one point, he literally knocked Andy Murray over with a venomous backhand that struck the handle of Murray’s racket and almost flew into the stand.
The old Court 2 was notorious as the “graveyard of champions”. And even since the opening of the new incarnation, which is now in its 11th year, the spell appears to have endured.
Murray lost both his doubles matches on this bijou outpost this year, while the list of other fallers includes Stefanos Tsitsipas, Dominic Thiem, Maria Sharapova, Stan Wawrinka, Angelique Kerber and world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty. That’s a serious jinx. If the All England Club want to see more big-name players at the back end of this tournament, they should think about consulting an exorcist.
Afterwards Williams was asked whether her partnership with Murray might be revived for the US Open – the next tournament where mixed doubles plays a part. Her reply made it sound unlikely. “We aren’t ready for it to be over,” Williams said. “But we are focused on our health, both of us actually, taking it literally one day at a time, seeing what happens from there.”
During the same interview, Williams spoke warmly about the experience of joining Britain’s greatest tennis champion on the court. Like Pierre-Hugues Herbert – who only reached the second round in his men’s doubles partnership with Murray – she has clearly relished the opportunity to play the honorary Brit at Wimbledon.
“I just love Andy’s spirit,” said Williams. “He’s so calm and chill. I loved having the support. It was amazing. Hopefully I can still have it. “I think to play on this stage with Andy, who has done so well here for so many years, is a lifetime experience. It’s fun to get to know him as well because we don’t really know each other that well.”
In an entertaining exchange, Williams then went on to register her amusement at the number of questions that Murray has been fielding about his physical state – but admitted that she tends to drift off into a daydream when he starts describing his training regimes and various rehab challenges.
Short-circuiting the whole interview process, she staged a short mock interrogation herself in which she asked her partner “How is your body? Are you going to be able to play New York?”
A similar question did inevitably surface from the floor, as Murray was asked for his assessment of a tournament in which he played five doubles matches in the space of last seven days. “I think I achieved a lot,” he replied “I think, considering the lack of matches, I did okay. The most positive thing is that my hip felt good. “It’s a lot of physical work now trying to get stronger really, get a good balance with all the muscles around my hip. I’m doing some physical testing next week. I did some pre-Queen’s. It will be interesting to see how things have progressed or not. But I’ve still got, like I said, quite a long way to go.”
Finally, Murray addressed the recent political turmoil within tennis that caused his brother Jamie to resign from the ATP player council on the eve of this tournament along with three other members.
“I think the whole situation is a shame really,” he said, in relation to a feud which has seen a stand-off between two opposing factions – one aligned with British ATP boss Chris Kermode and the other with the controversial American administrator Justin Gimelstob – create a toxic atmosphere behind the scenes.
“It just seems like so many different people, organizations, are fighting, not coming together to try to find solutions,” added Murray. “You want that to change really. I’d like to see a little bit more unity. Once that’s the case, then you can start to move forward.”
Singles focus for Williams now
She takes on Barbora Strycova tomorrow in the semi-final, who knocked out Britain’s Johanna Konta on Tuesday.
Soares and Melichar will face either Dodig/Chan or Roger-Vasselin/Klepac, with that match currently in progress.
How it all ended
SOARES AND MELICHAR WIN – Soares/Melichar 6-3 4-6 6-2 Murray/Williams
15-0, Soares too sharp at the net for Murray. Nice though by Murray off Melichar’s second serve, a return down the line before then coming up for the smash. 15-15.
Murray sharp again, volley into Soares for 15-30. Puts his hand up to apologise. Murray can’t return that serve though, forehand into the net, 30-30.
Williams then leaves a Melichar forehand and it drops safe in the corner! Match point.
Into the net from Murray and that’s that! It was fun while it lasted, but the top seeds showed why they have top billing here at Wimbledon.
Soares/Melichar* 6-3 4-6 5-2 Murray/Williams (denotes next server)
Touch from Murray, sending a low drop shot cross-court for 30-0. Soares challenging a potential point for Murray but it was definitely in, 40-15. Long from Melichar, Williams and Murray cling on.
Soares/Melichar 6-3 4-6 5-1 Murray/Williams* (denotes next server)
Soares long with a volley, 0-15. A few ripples of excitement. That’s too good though by Melichar, reading Murray’s return for 15-15.
Williams can’t get to a forehand in time, before Soares smashes away a winner. Two game points, won with an ace! If anyone can explain Soares’ run of double faults in the last set, that would be great. The top seeds are one game away.
Soares*/Melichar 6-3 4-6 4-1 Murray/Williams (denotes next server)
Crowd have gone very quiet but Williams gets aggressive with a smash at the net, livening Court 2 up a bit. And again by Williams into the body of Melichar, no returning that. Two game points, excellent cross-court forehand by Melichar then makes it 40-30.
But Murray double faults! Deuce, their first of the day. Williams with the backhand winner at the net and with the advantage, Murray does so well coming up to the net to get his racket on it for their first game of the set.
Soares/Melichar 6-3 4-6 4-0 Murray*/Williams (denotes next server)
Melichar has served very well. Up 30-0 before a forehand into the net. Murray and Williams need a break desperately in this game.
Soares too sharp at the net though, reading Murray’s shot down the line and moving across for a forehand winner. Game! The top seeds are two games away.
Soares/Melichar* 6-3 4-6 3-0 Murray/Williams (denotes next server)
Williams hits long with a backhand, shame because the serve was very good. Both Murray and Williams pinned back on the baseline as Murray hits into the net, 15-30.
Quality return by Soares and it’s two break points for the top seeds, who have flicked a switch at the start of this set. And they get the break! This might be over in a hurry.
Soares/Melichar 6-3 4-6 2-0 Murray/Williams* (denotes next server)
Well, Soares has learned how to serve again. Ferocious start to this set by the top seeds as the Brazilian gets a love hold.
Soares*/Melichar 6-3 4-6 1-0 Murray/Williams (denotes next server)
Momentum with Murray and Williams – will Soares open the serving in this set? 30-30 on Murray’s serve before Williams volleys into the net! Break point.
Good serve from Murray but the return by Soares is very good and the top seeds win the break!
Soares/Melichar 6-3 4-6 0-0 Murray*/Williams (denotes next server)
Sharp return by Williams on second serve, placed wide for 0-15. Can they put Soares under pressure? He double faults, 0-30.
And another double! 0-40! Three set points for Murray and Williams. One saved after Williams can’t quite get enough under a lob.
Second serve for Soares… another double! Three in the game and Murray and Williams clinch the second set!
Soares*/Melichar 6-3 4-5 Murray/Williams (denotes next server)
Ball boy nearly runs into Soares trying to catch a returned ball from the crowd! His grimace said it all. Good serve and volley by Murray, before Williams dispatches a backhand volley for 40-15.
120mph serve by Murray forces a soft return, put away by Williams. Still no breaks yet.
Soares/Melichar 6-3 4-4 Murray*/Williams (denotes next server)
Nice from Murray, threads another backhand return up the line into the corner before winning the point with a volley. 15-15.
Too good though by Melichar coming up to the net, forcing an error by Murray. Two game points, one saved with a fine winner by Williams, but Murray can’t return a serve down the middle.
Soares/Melichar* 6-3 3-4 Murray/Williams (denotes next server)
Crunching return by Melichar, volley right into Williams. Soares then a little careless, long with a forehand, to make it 30-30.
Williams composed enough to then win the game, as we stay on serve.
Soares/Melichar 6-3 3-3 Murray/Williams* (denotes next server)
Soares has just lost his first point on serve (that wasn’t a double fault). And now it’s interesting at 0-30, Serena’s whipped forehand too powerful for Melichar.
Smash from Soares makes it 15-30 before a cracking rally, two Williams’ lobs returned by Soares before she hits into the net. 30-30.
Genius by Soares! A flick of the wrist for a cross-court forehand low off the net, dropped in perfectly. But then Melichar hits long, Deuce.
Ace from Soares for the advantage before the top seeds hold, even a Williams shot clipping the top of the net wasn’t enough to disrupt them.
Soares*/Melichar 6-3 2-3 Murray/Williams (denotes next server)
Couple of strong serves by Murray make it 30-0 before he hammers home a forehand with all the time in the world. Soares’ return the drops wide, love hold from Murray.
Soares/Melichar 6-3 2-2 Murray*/Williams (denotes next server)
Williams whistles a shot past Murray’s ear practically into acres of space for 15-15. Williams kicking herself after smashing into the net. Proof that everybody misses I guess. Double fault by Melichar keeps the game alive at 40-30 but she then holds.
Soares/Melichar* 6-3 1-2 Murray/Williams (denotes next server)
30-0 lead for Williams before Melichar unloads an excellent backhand return up the line past Murray. 40-15 though after Soares scoops a forehand wide to the right before Williams’ hammers down an ace.
Soares/Melichar 6-3 1-1 Murray/Williams* (denotes next server)
Soares up to the challenge, serving very well until clipping the net twice for a double fault. He is yet to lose a point on his own serve, only giving up three double faults!
Soares*/Melichar 6-3 0-1 Murray/Williams (denotes next server)
Love hold for Murray, an ace in there too, carrying on from last night with some sharp serving.
Soares/Melichar 6-3 0-0 Murray*/Williams (denotes next server)
Double fault by Soares makes it 15-15 before a nice second serve into the body forces an error by Williams. Murray can’t connect with a forehand and it’s two set points for Soares/Melichar.
And they take it! Backhand volley from Murray into the net and the top seeds clinch the first set 6-3.
Soares*/Melichar 5-3 Murray/Williams (denotes next server)
Murray rocked onto his back after a return from Soares flies towards his head. Managed to get his racket in the way but Murray and Williams in a spot of bother down 0-30.
Soares so sharp at the net, returning a Murray volley and that’s two break points. One lost after Melichar returns into the net. But that’s an amazing Soares return off his backhand! Landed right out wide. The top seeds break.
Soares/Melichar 4-3 Murray/Williams* (denotes next server)
Stunning return by Murray catches Soares and Melichar a little flat-footed. Then after some rockets at the net from both sides Serena’s last effort just drops in by the sideline for 15-30.
Murray can’t return that one though, 30-30, but a double fault by Melichar brings up our first break point of the match.
Too good by Soares, couple of volleys right in the middle of the net makes it deuce. And again there, reading a Williams backhand and just feathering the ball into the grass for the advantage. Better from Murray, catching Soares out and Melichar can’t return, deuce again.
Game to the top seeds though, surviving that break threat.
Soares/Melichar* 3-3 Murray/Williams (denotes next server)
Couple of punishing smashes from Williams up at the net make it 30-0. Incredible lob though by Melichar, Williams and Murray just watching where it’ll land as it drops into the corner of the court.
Now 30-30 after Murray hits into the net. Game point after Melichar’s return drops long. Murray thinks he has an ace, but it was just long. Brilliant backhand volley up at the net by Murray though to keep us on serve.
Soares/Melichar 3-2 Murray*/Williams (denotes next server)
Love hold for Soares, rattled an ace down off the final serve. That was impressive.
Soares*/Melichar 2-2 Murray/Williams (denotes next server)
Strong hold from Williams, recovering from 0-15 to take that game. Melichar nearly hitting Soares with a stray return, that was lucky. Soares and Melichar have started well but no breaks yet.
Soares/Melichar 2-1 Murray/Williams* (denotes next server)
Phenomenal return by Murray but then Williams can’t connect on a volley, 30-0. Nice forehand return by Williams makes it 30-15, then 30-30.
Forehand by Williams into the net though, and then she can’t connect with an overhead backhand.
Soares/Melichar* 1-1 Murray/Williams (denotes next server)
Murray fractionally long up at the net, 0-15. Serve and volley then works to make 15-15 with Melichar hitting past the baseline. Smash from Murray down the middle for 30-15 but Soares levels things up.
Nice low, cross-court volley from Murray up at the net for 40-30 before Melichar hits a backhand wide. 1-1.
Soares/Melichar 1-0 Murray*/Williams (denotes next server)
Serena wide with a backhand to make it 30-15, then both Soares and Melichar up at the next force Williams to hit long with a forehand. Two game points on Soares’ serve and the number one seeds are on the board.
Both teams out on court and warming up
Meaning we’ll be underway very soon.
A stern test today for Murena/Serandy
Given that Bruno Soares and Nicole Melichar are the number one seeds. Soares has never won here at Wimbledon, while Melichar won last year in the Mixed Doubles here alongside Alexander Peya, defeating the team of Victoria Azarenka and… Jamie Murray. Hmmm.
Williams on the US Open final
In an essay for Harper’s Bazaar, Williams has addressed that final against Naomi Osaka and how everything unraveled.
This incident—though excruciating for us to endure—exemplified how thousands of women in every area of the workforce are treated every day. We are not allowed to have emotions, we are not allowed to be passionate.
We are told to sit down and be quiet, which frankly is just not something I’m okay with. It’s shameful that our society penalizes women just for being themselves.
The doubles match to us on Court 2 has just finished up, meaning Andy Murray and Serena Williams are on their way.
Here’s Murray on how well the two gelled in their match on Tuesday.
Serena was the one making me laugh today out there. I think today felt a bit more relaxed probably than the first match because we don’t know each other extremely well. I think there’s a lot of talk about us playing, then once we got on the court, we wanted to do well.
I think today, we chatted a bit more, probably a bit more relaxed than the first round, I’d say.