Skupski brothers: Neal Crowned Mixed Doubles Champion as Ken Says Goodbye

Neal Skupski and Desirae Krawczyk with their Wimbledon mixed doubles trophies.
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Second seeds Neal Skupski and Desirae Krawczyk defeated the Australian pair of men’s doubles finalist Matthew Ebden and eight-time Grand Slam champion Samantha Stosur to lift the mixed doubles trophies again. This was the first time the mixed doubles final was played on a Thursday, getting the Centre Court spotlight after the women’s singles semifinals and some exhibition legends’ doubles. The British-American pair became the first back-to-back mixed doubles champions since brother-sister pair Cyril Suk and Helena Sukova in 1996 and 1997.

Two Doubles Stars on the Rise

“I am speechless.” Krawczyk opened her winner’s speech after getting her fourth mixed doubles Grand Slam title in just 14 months. “Neal, thanks for playing again. Two in a row baby! At Wimbledon!” The American exclaimed before revealing that the two did not even originally plan on teaming up for this year’s Wimbledon, leaving them with just one week of preparation before entering.

“Would love to go for three next year, if she’ll play with me,” Skupski said. His only Grand Slam finals in mixed or men’s doubles have come alongside the 28-year-old.

Krawczyk and Skupski began their run in the second round, receiving a bye in the first, and struggled to a 6-4 in the third victory over Thanasi Kokkinakis and Asia Muhammad. They followed it up with a 7-5 6-2 win over Ellen Perez and Matwe Middelkoop before getting quite fortunate in the quarterfinals as Robert Farah injured his wrist in the first-set tiebreak and struggled for the rest of the match alongside Jelena Ostapenko.

In the semifinals, the British-American pair fought back from a set down to get another 6-4 in the third win, this time over sixth seeds Mate Pavic and Sania Mirza. As for the finalists, Ebden was coming off a two-sets-to-love comeback win alongside Max Purcell earlier in the day and really did not have much in the tank. Stosur was looking for her third Wimbledon mixed title with her third partner, lifting the trophy in 2008 with Bob Bryan and 2014 with Nenad Zimonjic.

The 38-year-old still got to add yet another Major final on her resume as she approaches the end of her career, her impressive tally now reaching 16.

“Matt, I got revenge today after you beat me in the Men’s Doubles,” Skupski joked when asked about the finalists. “I don’t know how you’re still standing, you’ve played about 700 five-set matches,” the Brit continued, referencing Ebden’s continued men’s doubles heroics alongside Max Purcell as four out of their five matches had gone five sets on his road to the final, including a win over Skupski and Wesley Koolhof.

Ken Calls Time On His Career

The same week his younger brother won his second Major title, 39-year-old Ken Skupski has decided to retire from professional tennis. The Liverpool native finishes his career with seven ATP titles, 33 Challenger titles, 41 Slam appearances, and 14 Wimbledons. At his final tournament, the Brit reached the third round in men’s doubles alongside Jonny O’Mara, with whom he won the Nottingham 125 Challenger. The pair took out the Chilean team of Alejandro Tabilo and Julio Peralta as well as the experienced Raven Klaasen and Marcelo Melo in straight sets before succumbing to the 11th seeds Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies.

The 39-year-old did not get his big court farewell, as his mixed doubles partner Heather Watson had to withdraw due to an injury before they could face the eventual finalists in Ebden and Stosur. Skupski first came into British public consciousness in 2004 when he faced Richard Krajicek in a Liverpool exhibition. The then-21-year-old took a set off the 1996 Wimbledon champion and lost in the ten-point super tiebreak.

After that, the Brit crossed the pond to play college tennis for Louisiana State University, reaching the NCAA Doubles final in 2005 and becoming a school legend as he accumulated 107 wins. Skupski then teamed up with Colin Fleming, who had just recently turned pro, the pair becoming an instant success as they won three Futures and beat the iconic Bryan brothers at the 2009 Queen’s Club.

Skupski broke the Top 150 that season and would not leave for the rest of his career, completing 12 straight years among the best 150 doubles players in June this year. The 39-year-old found regular success on the Challenger Tour but also made 17 ATP finals. The Briton’s career highlights came alongside his brother Neal, winning the biggest title of his career at the ATP 500 in Acapulco last season and reaching the 2017 Wimbledon quarterfinals as wildcards.

Skupski also retires as a two-time Commonwealth Games medallist, earning silver with Ross Hutchins and bronze with Sarah Botwell at the 2010 games in Delhi.

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