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Melanie South, 21, and Alex Bogdanovic, 23, lost their quarter-final against the reigning Australian Open champions Elena Likhovtseva and Daniel Nestor 6-3 (7-6), 7-4. The Britons came into this quarter-final with every reason for optimism, having beaten the world No.1 pairing of Mike Bryan and Lisa Raymond on their way to this match. But Nestor and Likhovtseva make a fearsome pairing. Doubles legend Nestor, now a 34-year-old veteran, has 48 career doubles titles under his belt, and Likhovetseva already has a Wimbledon mixed crown to her name, having taken the 2002 title with Mahesh Bhupathi.

The Britons won the toss and signalled their attacking intent by electing to receive. But it briskly became clear that their opponents were going to be tough, crowding them at the net.

Despite fewer than half their first serves meeting the target, early on the Britons were holding serve with impressive ease, their opponents managing to unburden them of scarcely a point. But at 4-3 she and Nestor suddenly took control with commanding understanding of the doubles court. South, having previously held to love, found herself at 0-40. She got one break point back, and should have saved another but Nestor punched the volley away for 5-3, and held to love to close out the set.

Demoralised, the British pair saw their touch at the net desert them at the start of the second, and the breakthrough on Bogdanovic’s serve came at once. At 0-2 Bogdanovic was left cringing in a vain attempt to protect himself from a powerful Likhovtseva volley, but there was no escape. The No.11 seeds were into their stride, and promptly broke South to love.

Yet at 2-5, facing two match points, Bogdanovic and South not only pulled them back but then created their first break point of the match, gamely breaking Likhovtseva’s serve when Bogdanovic outgunned Nestor at the net. Renewed, they followed that by breaking Nestor to love. Come the tiebreak they rallied again, turning 0-4 into 4-4, but it was only postponing the inevitable. Nestor closed out the match with an ace.

by Kate Battersby

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