Purav Raja and Divij Sharan have finally got the monkey off their backs after notching up their first Wimbledon main draw win at the 2017 Championships on Wednesday. The all-Indian duo had to dig deep to stave off the challenge of Kyle Edmund and Joao Sousa for a 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(6) win in 3 hours 3 minutes.
Veteran Sania Mirza too made it a happy debut at the place where she had been the champion two years ago. The former World No. 1, who is seeded 13th this time alongside Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens, prevailed comfortably, 6-4, 6-3 over Naomi Osaka and Shuai Zhang.
However, it was not a flawless day for India as debutant Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan later went down in a massive five-setter. The southpaw in partnership with Jared Donaldson, squandered a two-sets-to-love lead to succumb to a 7-6(4), 7-5, 6(3)-7, 0-6, 3-6 defeat at the hands of Jay Clarke and Marcus Willis.
Raja and Sharan third time lucky
For Raja and Sharan, this was one win they would cherish. Twice they have failed to cross the first hurdle. Needless to say that success on their third attempt will bolster their confidence by miles.
They finished with 8 aces, four double faults and two service breaks out of 10 opportunities.
That performance, however, needs to be polished a lot more in their next round as they face the seventh seeds Rajeev Ram and Raven Klaasen. The two have triumphed on the hardcourts of Delray Beach and the Indian Wells Masters this year and will be a tough nut to crack.
Effortless display by Mirza and Flipkens
Flipkens and Mirza put up an effortless display in their first round and this was one that they badly needed after pairing up in the middle of the grass season. The Indian had to let go of her usual partner Yaroslava Shvedova, who has an impending surgery.
The former Wimbledon champion found a last-minute substitute in the 2013 singles semi-finalist Flipkens right before the deadline but they could not have any match play.
The partnership finally went off to a smooth start on Wednesday with the Indo-Belgian pair converting five out of eight break points that gifted them the victory in 1 hour 12 minutes.
Their second round opponents will be the winner of the all-British contest between Naomi Broady-Heather Watson and Harriet Dart-Katy Dunne.
So near, yet so far for Nedunchezhiyan
The 28-year-old Nedunchezhiyan and Donaldson got into the main draw by the skin of their teeth after the Indian’s partner Hyeon Chung had to opt out due to an ankle injury.
And the lefty was on course to make the most of a second chance when he and the American led by two sets to love.
But they could not hold on to it. Buoyed by the local crowd, the British pair came roaring back into contention to snatch the victory from the jaws of defeat in 3 hours 15 minutes.
The Indo-American pair’s inability to convert break points was what cost them dearly as they managed to grab only two service breaks from the nine chances that they were presented with. Especially in the decider, wasting the three opportunities they got proved to be the deciding factor in the end.
Willis and Clarke, in contrast, made in-roads into Nedunchezhiyan and Donaldson’s serves just once in that fifth set and that was all they needed to fetch them an improbable victory in front of an elated home crowd.