Andy Murray and Serena Williams to form mixed doubles dream team at Wimbledon

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Andy Murray and Serena Williams will link up to play mixed doubles at Wimbledon, the Scot’s team confirmed on Tuesday evening.

The partnership, which seemed little more than a media dream when it was first mooted on Saturday, had grown increasingly more likely over the past couple of days and, after Williams safely came through her first-round singles test, it became reality.

The pair will sign in ahead of the deadline at 11am on Wednesday, thrusting what is traditionally the least heralded of the five main draws firmly into the spotlight.

Positives noises from Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, were the first real hint that it could happen, and Murray added further intrigue on Monday when he said he was 90 per cent sure who he would play with and that it could “possibly” be the American.

Williams continued to tease the possibility after beating Guilia Gatto-Monticone in the first round of the singles, suggesting she could do with the extra time on court.

The 37-year-old, who has been battling knee problems for much of the last few months, was in a playful mood in her press conference.

“I’m just going to see how I feel today, then go from there,” she said, refusing to confirm her intentions.

“I’m still kind of in the singles mode, trying to figure that part out. We’ll see. I could use extra matches, though, so it could be something.”

Asked for a percentage of how likely it was that she would team up with Murray, she replied: “I don’t know. If you guys really want it, then maybe I’ll do it.

“All right, done, just for you guys. Don’t forget. If you guys want it.”

Williams won the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon 21 years ago with Max Mirnyi but has played only once at a grand slam in 20 years while Murray’s mixed-doubles experience has come at the Hopman Cup and in the Olympics, where he won a silver medal in 2012 with Laura Robson.

He has won favour from Williams in the past for speaking out on feminism and she was glowing in her praise for him on Tuesday.

“We’re a lot alike on the court,” she added. “I’ve always liked that about him. Talking about work ethic, his work ethic is just honestly off the charts. That’s something I’ve always respected about him. His fitness, everything.

“To do what he’s done in an era where there are so many other great male tennis players, so much competition, to rise above it, not many people have done it. He’s actually one of the few.

“There are so many things to be admired. Above all, he really stands out, he really speaks up about women’s issues, no matter what.

“You can tell he has a really strong woman in his life. I think above all that is just fantastic.”

Murray will open his men’s doubles campaign on Thursday alongside Pierre-Hugues Herbert, with the pair taking on Frenchman Ugo Humbert and Romania’s Marius Copil.

Herbert declared himself fit on Monday after doubts over a thigh problem, and there was some concern for Murray’s fitness on Tuesday, with the 32-year-old stopping practice 20 minutes earlier than scheduled and limping off court.

Murray is three weeks into his comeback following a second operation on his right hip in January.

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Rafael Nadal criticises Wimbledon's seeding system

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Rafael Nadal has questioned Wimbledon’s seeding system as the Spaniard looks set to be placed third when they are announced on Wednesday.

Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam of the year to operate with a different seeding structure, meaning world number two Nadal is likely to be behind both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

While the US, French and Australian Opens use the ATP and WTA rankings for their seed placings, Wimbledon’s take grass-court performances into account.

Defending champions Djokovic and world number three Federer are therefore expected to be above Nadal – who will begin the challenge of winning his fourth title at SW19 from next week.

“I don’t think it is a good thing that Wimbledon is the only one with its own seeding formula,” he told Spanish TV station Vamos.

“Wimbledon is the only tournament of the year that doesn’t follow the rankings.

“It’s their choice – Either way, being second or third seed, I have to play at the best level to aspire to the things I aspire to.

“It is better to be second than third, but if they consider that I have to be third I will accept.”

Seeding third will leave Nadal in the same half of the draw as Djokovic, who beat him over five sets in last year’s semi-final en route to lifting the trophy.

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Andy Murray wins doubles at Queen’s on return from injury

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Andy Murray completed a remarkable winning return to action with victory in the doubles at Queen’s Club alongside Feliciano Lopez.

The Scot, who was close to retiring five months ago due to the hip injury which left him struggling to walk without pain, let alone play tennis, strolled off with the silverware at his first attempt back.

Murray and Lopez – the latter ‘fresh’ from winning the singles title less than an hour earlier – beat Britain’s Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram of the United States 7-6 (6) 5-7 10-5 after a third-set match tie-break.

Murray had insisted after their first-round victory that winning was not his number one priority this week. After all, it was only five months ago that the former world number one tearfully announced that the Australian Open could be his last tournament.

This, then, was supposed to be a tentative comeback, testing out the new metal hip after a career-saving operation and getting a few games under his belt, with a view to gradually building up to a return to singles. But the three-time grand slam champion clearly has not lost the appetite for a battle.

The fledgling partnership were 5-1 down in a first-set tie-break but fought back to level, and took it when Ram pushed a forehand wide.

The second set went the way of Salisbury and Ram after Murray dropped serve, and like so many matches during Murray’s career, it went to the wire.

Lopez, who must have been running on empty, somehow conjured up a series of stunning winners in the match tie-break to secure his own personal double and an unlikely, but welcome, victory for Murray.

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