By Paul Eddison at Wimbledon
Neal Skupski is now a two-time Wimbledon champion and his 2022 crown earned him a first invite to the most prestigious event in tennis.
For the second year running, Liverpool’s Skupski claimed the mixed doubles crown at SW19 alongside American Desirae Krawczyk, but where last year Covid denied them the chance to attend the famed Champions Ball, this weekend it was a different story.
The event, which sees all the winners from the All England Club celebrate on the final Sunday of the fortnight, gave Skupski and Krawczyk the chance to revel in their success in a way that was not possible 12 months ago.
He said: “We definitely didn’t go to one last year. There was a bubble and once we finished last year, we got the bus back to the hotel and they had put champagne in our rooms but the Euro final was on, so a lot of people were more interested in that.
“This year is a little bit different, there were more people on Centre to watch our match, the crowd got behind us and the Champions dinner, not many people get to go to that so it’s a special occasion that we missed out on because of Covid.
“It was nice to win one Wimbledon but to win two back-to-back is quite surreal. It will probably take me a couple of weeks to get used to that.”
The win cements Skupski’s place as one of the greats of the British doubles scene, joining John Lloyd and Jamie Murray as the only Brits to have won multiple Wimbledon doubles titles in the Open era.
Now Skupski’s ambition is to take that major success into the men’s doubles alongside Dutch partner Wesley Koolhof.
The duo have enjoyed a fine season so far and currently sit top of the ATP Doubles Race based on performances in 2022, with the target now to establish themselves as the world’s best men’s doubles pairing.
Skupski added: “We’re currently number one in the Race, we want to stay there. We want to be the number one in the world. But it’s going to be difficult because there are a lot of good teams pushing for that spot.
“We want to do better in the Majors, in the Australian Open and the French we made the quarters, we made the third round here. So we want to push into the later rounds, reaching semi-finals, finals and win them. We’d love to win the US Open but it’s not that easy, there are a lot of good teams out there.”
To get to the top of the world rankings, Skupski would have to overhaul another Brit, Joe Salisbury, who reached the semi-finals here alongside American Rajeev Ram.
Add in Murray and the emergence of Lloyd Glasspool, and it is clear that British doubles is flying high, with LTA Senior Performance Advisor Louis Cayer, a doubles guru, deserving a lot of credit for that success.
Skupski added: “British doubles is in a great spot, we get a lot of help from the LTA and Louis Cayer and our individual coaches.
“It is going well, there is a good vibe around British tennis at the moment. There always is on the grass but this is extra special for some reason. It seems that everyone is backing each other to do well and it’s nice and hopefully we can take it forward.
“Louis has been involved in British tennis for a long time. He’s helped out the British guys on the doubles side of it, he has a system that every British guy works to. I’ve learned a lot from him.”
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