Bjorkman Ousts Doubles Partner
Monday, 3 July, 2006
You would think Jonas Bjorkman and Max Miryni see enough of each other on the doubles circuit. The current French Open champions, who are seeded two in this year’s Championships, have been partners since 2005.
On Court 18, however, the men faced each other on the opposite side of the net for their fourth round singles contest and it was the Swede who emerged triumphant with a 6-3, 7-6 (8-6), 4-6, 2-6, 6-3 score.
It was perhaps a predictable win. Over the years the men have met ten times with Bjorkman winning nine of those contests. And while the Swede enjoyed a comfortable straight sets third round victory over Daniele Bracciali, 28-year-old Mirnyi endured an exhausting five-setter against number eight seed James Blake.
Psychologically, the only thing the Belarusian – known as ‘The Beast’ – could count in his favour was the knowledge that his 34-year-old opponent is the oldest man left in the singles draw.
But Bjorkman showed no obvious sign of wilting, despite the soaring temperatures. He picked off the first set in 29 minutes and the second in just over an hour, thanks to beautiful passing shots that made his 6ft 5ins opponent look slow around the court.
In the third, however, it was Miryni who began to threaten. He upped his approaches to the net and read Bjorkman’s drives more accurately to secure an early break and eventually take the set 6-4.
Things then went from bad to worse for the Swede who was broken in the opening game of the fourth. As Miryni grew in confidence, errors began creeping into the Bjorkman game. He began serving double-faults, missing ground strokes and, within 33 minutes, Miryni had taken the fourth on an ace.
But it was all change in the fifth. The Belarusian appeared to choke on his first service game dumping volley after volley into the net to hand the Swede three break points, which he promptly claimed on the first with a winner down the line. Bjorkman, who is a three-times Wimbledon doubles champion, then broke Miryni again and served out the match with an ace to earn his place in the quarter-finals for the second time in his career.
After the match he said the secret of being in the quarters at 34-years-old was to have no expectations. "I think you have to drop the expectations a little bit...Going into Wimbledon I didn't have any expectations. So I think I've been putting less pressure on myself and trying to enjoy the moment of being here because obviously I know well my age...I don't have too many more Wimbledons and that's why I need to be even more in a situation that I'm going to have to enjoy it."
Written by Helen Gilbert