Murray and Williams outshone in mixed doubles by Britain’s O’Mara and Barnett


The bad news for British tennis fans is that Jamie Murray and Venus Williams’ campaign for the mixed doubles has ended in only the second round. The good news is that they lost against a British pair, Jonny O’Mara and Alicia Barnett, whose combination of chutzpah and stamina have instantly given them a pair of replacement heroes.

An epic 34-point tie-break in the third set packed in enough thrills to make up for the early exit of the glamour pair, and added plenty of memorable Williams moments to her already bulging file here at Wimbledon. After a classic Venus winner deep to the baseline took her and Murray to 13-12, she flung her head back and roared like a lion – only for her counterpart Barnett to pull off her own piece of brilliance at the net and save the following match point.

In the end O’Mara and Barnett won at their fifth attempt to take match point, and looked so amazed and delighted by their achievement that no one in the place would have begrudged them a second. It is not often you will hear a British crowd cheering against a Murray, but love for the underdog still reigns supreme in SW19, and the pairing of O’Mara and Barnett also had a considerable bank of personal support sitting in the stands.

They were unintimidated by their prestigious opponents. Barnett was happy to take charge at 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 each Barnett service, although he quit the in-play commentary after it seemed to distract his partner out of her shots.

Jonny O'Mara and Alicia Barnett got the better of their more illustrious opponents in a marathon final tie-break.
Jonny O’Mara and Alicia Barnett got the better of their more illustrious opponents in a marathon final tie-break. Photograph: Steven Paston/PA

In comparison, Murray and Williams seemed a relatively quiet pair. There was less frisson to this match than their opening one – perhaps after their performance on Centre Court they had decided they were in it to win it, not to entertain. They took the first set 6-4 and went a break up in the second, but Barnett broke back with a pass through Murray that seemed to take her aback as much as her opponent and prompted a spontaneous victory spin.

O’Mara enjoyed his own magical moment against Murray, too, a blinding return of serve that put them a break up to give them the second set. What emerged was a charming display of teamwork and can-do spirit. When they struggled to get the ball past Murray, they tag-teamed against him, and even tried the same tactic on Williams, although she took them on and triumphed in a rally against their combined ground strokes.

The pair kept battling after going an early break down in the third and by the time they got back on serve, 5-4 up and 30-30, the upset looked decidedly on – although neither side could have seen it taking as long as it did.



Read More: Murray and Williams outshone in mixed doubles by Britain’s O’Mara and Barnett

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