A year on from his maiden Grand Slam title, Neal Skupski is back in SW19 for another slice of success.
Liverpudlian Skupski reached the peak of his career at Wimbledon 12 months ago when he and American Desirae Krawczyk won the mixed doubles title, beating Joe Salisbury and Harriet Dart in the closing match of the tournament.
The 32-year-old and Krawczyk look to defend their title as the second seeds this year, though he does not hide his main target is victory in the men’s doubles.
Skupski and Dutch partner Wesley Koolhof are seeded third – the Briton’s highest ever men’s doubles seeding at a major – and have won five titles together in 2022, including one on grass at the Libema Open two weeks ago.
Their campaign started with a 6-3 7-5 6-3 victory over Argentinians Diego Schwartzman and Facundo Bagnis and while Skupski admits there was pressure, he believes this was down to the magnitude of the All England Club – not their position as one of the favourites.
He said: “We’ve been playing well this year. Hopefully we can have a good Wimbledon. We’re still looking for our first Grand Slam together and we’re going in the right direction.
“I didn’t really think about it on the match court, being the No.3 seeds. I think it was more to do with it being my home Grand Slam – there’s always that extra pressure.
“You have family in the crowd, you have friends, so you want to try and impress them a little bit, but it’s never easy because there’s extra pressure. We’re happy to come through a tricky first round.”
Last year’s success in the mixed doubles did not quite sink in for Liverpudlian until returning to Wimbledon this year.
With more friends and family able to travel and watch him play this summer due to the relaxation of COVID restrictions, he is hoping to make 2022 even sweeter.
“It does feel more special coming back, especially because some people weren’t able to come last year because of the situation with the pandemic,” Skupski added.
“To see pictures and my name on the board with Desirae, it is a nice feeling. Also, it’s Wimbledon. For me it’s the best tournament in the world, it’s the one that we most want to win.
“Me and Wes, we want to win Wimbledon this year in the men’s doubles. I think we’ve played well so far this year, we just haven’t got across the line at a Grand Slam.
“Hopefully we can continue the good form and go one round at a time – but our goal is to win.
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