The internet age has even come to Wimbledon’s Mixed Doubles Championships and the British duo Mel South and Alex Bogdanovic are through to the quarter finals after South resorted to the friendship site Facebook to ask if the British No.3 would consider playing.
Both had suffered first round exits in the singles after being handed wild cards but so far their first mixed doubles partnership has brought nothing but success, moving through to the last eight with a 6-4, 6-3 win over 13th seeds Rogiers Wassen of the Netherlands and Taipei’s Yung-Jan Chan.
'I told him not to be a wuss and to hit it at the girl player as hard as he could. I think he got the message pretty quickly.' Mel South
The victory followed on from the British’s twosome’s initial win over the German pair of Benjamin Becker and Anna-Lena Groenefeld and one of the upsets of the tournament by beating top seeds Mike Bryan and Lisa Raymond.
“It’s quite embarrassing how we came about playing,” admitted South who lost to Japan’s Ai Sugiyama in the first round of the ladies singles. “We’ve known each other for quite a while but I didn’t know whether he would be interested in playing mixed so rather than ask him to his face I sent a message on Facebook. And the answer came back yes which was great.”
Bogdanovic got the taste for playing doubles when he paired up with former world No.1 Marat Safin at the Artois Championships at London’s Queen’s Club. However, he’d never previously had any experience of the mixed and needed a little acclimatisation. “I didn’t know really what to expect and wondered whether it was the right thing to hit the ball at the girl player,” he said.
South is a fellow novice to mixed doubles play at Wimbledon but responded with some hard talking. “I told him not to be a wuss and to hit it at the girl player as hard as he could. I think he got the message pretty quickly.”
So far the pair’s passage has been reasonably lucrative. Together they already guaranteed a prize fund of £10,300 with an extra £12,200 waiting if they make it through to the semi-finals.
Looking any further forward might be viewed as presumptuous but it is 20 years since Britain last had mixed doubles champions; Jo Durie and Jeremy Bates lifting the trophy in 1987.
“We do seem to work well together,” said Bogdanovic who had planned to jet across the Atlantic Ocean on Friday to prepare for next week’s ATP Tour grass court tournament in Newport, Rhode Island.
“Hopefully this will really help me for years to come because I can come back knowing I’ve now won matches on both Centre Court and No.2 Court and that’s an enjoyable feeling.”