Sport

Salisbury and Watson crash out of mixed doubles on Centre Court in straight sets

By Paul Lagan at Wimbledon
Centre Court

Zielinski/Hsieh v Salisbury/Watson
7-6,  6-4

Home support almost was enough for Joe Salisbury and Heather Watson but they crashed out of the mixed doubles in straight sets in one hour and 48 minutes.

Unseeded Brits Salisbury and Watson made it into the second week of Wimbledon – albeit in the second round.

But the Centre Court crowd who were expecting to see Novak Djokovic play Aussie Alex de Minaur saw the mixed doubles match instead, bought forward to fill the second match slot after De Minaur pulled out of the match due to injury.

Usually it’s the male gender of the pairing that tends to dominate proceedings, but in this encounter it was Watson and Hsieh who outshone the men.

With the sun out and basking over the court, it was a good time for the locals.

They broke and set up a handy 4-1 lead. Zielinski struggled to hold his serve but just about managed to do it to see Watson serve at 4-2.

Could she hold her serve?

Well if going love 40 down constitutes a negative, then negative was about right.

She pulled a point back when Zielinski went wide, but the Poland right-hander soon smashed away a lofted return to bring the set back into contention.

It was Su-Wei Hsieh from Taiwan who had to hold, and she produced excellent cross-court forehands to take it to 40-love. And a terrific cross-court backhand to win the next point and game to level at 4-4.

Salisbury raced to a 40-love lead before unforced errors brought it to 30. and a crisp backhand down the line by Zielinski made it deuce.

A Watson net smash and a crash into the net with a return restored the now slender lead to 5-4.

Which soon became 5-5 with a strong service hold by Zielinski.

Watson also produced a game win. The communication that goes on with the players to decide where to serve is a unique facet of the doubles game, and often decides the outcome.

Thankfully for the GB pairing it got them to within a game of the set.

Zielinski was unhappy with a line call and even more unhappy with the Hawkeye imagery of the point that was called in by a country mile on Hsieh’s serve.

He went to the umpire to register his ire, but the point was replayed.

They won the game to take the set to a tie-break.

The Brits suffered a mini-break straight away.

Soon it was 2-0. They got one back when Hsieh hit the ball into the net.

Watson then lost her first point to make it 3-1. but won her second to make it 2-3.

Then it was 4-2 and soon 5-2.

Salisbury had to win his two points at last.

He got the first one. And the second.

Leaving Zielinski the upper hand at 5-4.

Action from the match Picture by Paul Lagan
Action from the match Picture by Paul Lagan

Spirited defence was no good for Salisbury and Watson as they faced set point.

Which they lost when Salisbury skied Zielinski’s serve high and wide.

Opening games of the second set went with serve.

Watson deservedly held her serve in the best game of the match which saw Watson race to a 30-love lead before twice double-faulting.

Two net cords went Zielinski’s way to keep the game of a knife-edge before Salisbury produced the decision finish at the net to hold the serve and make it 2-2.

Sadly it was Salisbury, who lost his serve, despite winning one of the points of the game when Watson crashed a wonderful backhand right onto the line.

The 4-2 lave gave Hsieh confidence that by holding her serve it would bring them to the brink of victory.

A 30-love lead became 30 all, then 40-30 then deuce before an acrobatic and quick reflex volley by Watson gave them advantage.

That was pegged back to deuce, before Salisbury restored advantage with a deft drop shot.

Zielinski then hit his return long to give the Brits the break they needed to make it 4-3 with Watson serving to level the set.

But instead it went to advantage to the pair across the net. The result was after a quality rally a game loss by Watson, leaving Zielinski to serve out the match.

Another high quality point won by Watson lifted the crowd, which soon became love-30. A long return by Salisbury brought it back to 15-30.

A double fault gave Salisbury a chance to break, which they achieved when Hsieh sliced her net drive wide.

Salisbury now served to stay in the tournament.

But at 15-40 the Brits looked at elimination and so it proved as Salisbury stroked his shot, ideally going down the line, wide.

Pictured top: Joe Salisbury and Heather Watson on Centre Court Picture by Paul Lagan


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