Neal Skupski and doubles partner Desirae Krawczyk battled their way through to a second consecutive mixed doubles final at Wimbledon.
Liverpudlian Skupski and American partner Krawczyk won the title last year, beating Joe Salisbury and Harriet Dart in the final.
Having won their first three matches, a semi-final against Mate Pavic and Sania Mirza – both multiple Grand Slam winners – stood between them and a return to the final.
Skupski and Krawczyk struggled in the first set, with the sixth seeds dominant on serve.
It looked as if Pavic and Mirza would seal a comfortable victory when they led by a set and a break, though the defending champions rallied from 4-2 down, winning five of the next six games to force a decider.
And in a thrilling final set, they once again rallied from a break down and broke in the final game of the match to seal a 4-6 7-5 6-4 victory in front of a loud Court 2 crowd.
Skupski said: “It was a difficult match. Mate, he’s a great player and I don’t think he’s lost a match on grass so far this year, and Sania is a great champion. She was playing unbelievably – she was returning my serve pretty easily, which was getting me down!
“We managed to find something and fight back in the second. We broke Sania and then we were just trying to get the crowd involved in the third. A lot of people came out from Centre Court to watch.
“We just started swinging in the end. We weren’t really getting close to Mate’s serve in the third, but you stick around and see what happens. I think we got lucky and connected with a few returns.”
Krawczyk added: “It was a really gritty match. We kind of just stuck in there and fought. We got a couple points here and there, and just stuck with it.
“Making finals is always great, but it’s tough. We’re happy to be in the final again together. It’s going to be another great moment tomorrow.”
Up next for Skupski and Krawczyk are the all Australian pairing of Sam Stosur and Matt Ebden in tomorrow’s final on Centre Court.
And the 32-year-old is out for revenge against Ebden, having lost to the Australian in the men’s doubles here and at the Australian Open earlier this year.
“I lost to him 7-6 in the third in Australia and then we [Skupski and Wesley Koolhof] lost in five sets here so I will certainly look for revenge tomorrow,” said the Liverpudlian.
“We’ll be ready to go. We’re looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully we can defend our title.”
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