Most people would probably have put money on Caroline Wozniacki becoming the first Dane since 1950s to appear in a Wimbledon semi-final. But instead it was un-fancied Frederik Løchte Nielsen who has written himself into Danish tennis lore.
Nielsen, who is ranked outside the top-100 in the doubles rankings, and British doubles partner Jonathan Marray continued their surprising Wimbledon campaign after beating James Cerretani and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), 6-7 (3), 2-6, 6-2 in the quarter-final on Wednesday.
The match lasted over four hours and despite taking a two-set lead, Løchte Nielsen and Marray were unable to keep their tenacious opponents from storming back to tie the match, setting up a thrilling and decisive fifth set.
But after a tenuous start, Nielsen and Marray took control of the match, winning the final set in confident fashion.
Nielsen was ecstatic about the win, and gave his partner Marray much credit for turning the match with a stunning smash that he referred to as the “smash of the tournament”.
“At one point it felt like, whatever we did, we couldn’t win the deciding break, until we made a stand down 0-40 in the fifth set,” Nielsen told public broadcaster DR. “After that we were cruising, but wow that was a wild match.”
Henrik Klitvad, the chairman for the Danish Tennis Union, was also pleased with the result, although he mentioned that someone special was missing from the scene.
“It would have been fantastic if Kurt had been able to see his grandson in a Wimbledon semi-final,” Klitvad told DR. “That we now have a woman’s and men’s player, Caroline and Frederik, who both compete at a high level, is brilliant for Danish tennis. Now we have two cards to play.”
Since Torben Ulrich reached the Wimbledon doubles semi-final in 1959, no Dane has managed to accomplish the feat, although Nielsen does come from proven stock: his late grandfather, Kurt Nielsen, did reach two singles finals in 1953 and 1955.
Nielsen and Marray face a stern test in the semi-final. Their opponents will likely be the Bryan twins, Bob and Mike, who have been the most successful doubles pair of the last decade. The Americans are the defending doubles champions and have 11 grand slam titles to their names.
Nielsen and Marray will play their semi-final on Friday.