THU: 25º/14º FRI: 23º/16º
Fab’ Freddie agonisingly close to London 2012
On Saturday, Frederik Løchte Nielsen became the first Dane to win a grand slam tournament in 55 years when he lifted the Wimbledon doubles trophy, a victory that could send him back to London later this month as a member of the Danish Olympic team.
Nielsen accomplished one of the greatest Danish tennis triumphs in history by winning men’s doubles at arguably the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world. Not since Kurt Nielsen, Nielsen’s grandfather, hoisted the US Open mixed doubles trophy in 1957 has any Dane won a grand slam tournament.
Despite being un-seeded, wildcard entry and therefore massive underdogs, Nielsen and partner Jonathan Marray defied tennis lore by defeating the 2, 5, 8 and 9 seeds on their way to the title, including the Bryan brothers, the previous winners and dominating force of doubles tennis over the past decade.
To put it in perspective, Nielsen’s highest career ranking in singles is 190, and he had only qualified to the first round of one grand slam tournament before this year’s Wimbledon. Marray’s best singles ranking is even worse at 215. Going from that to winning Wimbledon is simply incomprehensible, according to Nielsen, who is also a massive Liverpool F.C. fan.
“This means I can walk around calling myself a Wimbledon champion, No one can take that away from me. I always believed we could win and when that smash went over the net I thought about 2005,” Nielsen told Ekstrabladet newspaper, referring to Liverpool’s unimaginable come-back win in the 2005 Champions League final.
And the euphoria was evident as Nielsen’s partner, Jonathan Marray, lifted him up in celebration after the un-seeded pair beat Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau 4-6, 6-4, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 in the final. But that wasn’t the only lift for Nielsen.
Aside from the glory and the 1.2 million kroner cheque that the Wimbledon winners will collect, Nielsen received some more good news following his win.
Despite being told last month that he would not be participating in the London 2012 Olympics this summer, Nielsen’s mesmerising Wimbledon journey has propelled him to the brink of becoming an Olympian after all.
The top Danish men’s player in now the first wildcard back-up for the men’s singles in London and a cancelation from one of the eight wildcard holders would qualify him. And it also means that he could team up with Caroline Wozniacki in the mixed doubles. According to the International Tennis Federation, his new doubles ranking may even be enough to qualify him directly.
Denmark may just have a new Olympic hope, but time is running out. The 2012 London Olympic Games begin on July 27.