'Brilliant' Serena Williams lifts Andy Murray into Wimbledon's 3rd round in mixed doubles

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/olympics/rio-2016/a/1132744/" data-ylk="slk:Serena Williams">Serena Williams</a> and <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/olympics/rio-2016/a/1211276/" data-ylk="slk:Andy Murray">Andy Murray</a> advanced in the mixed doubles draw at Wimbledon. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Serena Williams and Andy Murray advanced in the mixed doubles draw at Wimbledon. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Serena Williams and Andy Murray advanced to the third round in Wimbledon’s mixed doubles draw with a thrilling 7-5, 6-3 win against Fabrice Martin and Raquel Atawo on Tuesday.

Williams and Murray breezed to victory in their first match but it was tougher this time out. Williams played on Center Court two hours earlier, advancing to the semifinals of the ladies singles draw with a three-set victory against Alison Riske, but it sure didn’t look like it the way she played.

“She returned brilliantly, especially at the end of the first set, beginning of the second,” Murray said during the post-match TV interview. “Just clean winning a lot of the time [and] making my job easy.”

“She keeps returning like that we’ll have a good chance,” he said.

The 37-year-old Williams carried the pair to victory and a meeting with top-seeded Bruno Soares of Brazil and Nicole Melichar of the U.S.

Williams roars to win first set, 7-5

The sides played a back-and-forth first set in which neither team gained more than a one-point advantage. It was Martin and Atawo’s first match of the tournament as the 14th-seeded pair received a bye in the first round.

Martin succeeded when he was at the net, popping shots into tight angles near the lines to gain an edge for the seasoned doubles players. They took advantage when Williams was up near the net, a spot in which singles players don’t have as much experience.

Despite the few miscues up top, she dominated. Late in the set she returned a 138 mph serve by Martin for a point.

The star who had, again, already played three tough sets earlier won both of the final two points of the set, sending each too far out of the reach of Martin’s backhand. Murray and Williams won 82 percent of their first serves.

Williams, Murray knock out 14th seed

An eight-minute second game broke for Williams and Murray to put the superstar duo up 2-0 in the second set. It was highlighted by Williams skimming a shot over the net at a deadly small angle that dropped inches inside the line.

The 23-time singles Grand Slam winner was all over her side of the court, saving shots and helping her side to a 4-1 set lead. The duo cruised from there and received a standing ovation from the crowd at its conclusion.

“I think we are getting in the groove of things already, so it’s good,” Williams said on the post-match interview. “We’ve only had a couple matches and have this rhythm that we’re starting to feel.”

Williams and Murray combined for four aces and won 85 percent of their first serves. They had 15 winners and only two unforced errors to Martin and Atawo’s five.

Murray struggles in return back

Murray, 32, looked rusty at times especially early in the match. He is returning from hip surgery and an early ouster at the Australian Open.

“All matches are good,” Murray said of his return to play. “Doubles especially is good for the reactions and the reflexes and stuff, which is something that’s obviously helped for the last three or four weeks for me. Once we’re finished here, hopefully on Sunday, I’ll get back to singles and see how that goes.”

Williams looked more in the zone and was the most dominant player of the four on the court.

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