All eyes now turn to Jamie and his second best doubles partner
HERE were a few laughs amongst the assembled tennis hacks in the US Open media room last week when Jamie Murray casually mentioned that in some ways his brother Andy wasn’t his ideal choice of doubles partner.
The 30-year-old actually finds it easier to engage in on-court communication with a man who was brought up 9000 miles away in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, than one who is the product of the same Dunblane household.
“Um, yeah … Probably, yeah,” said Jamie, shortly after he and his partner Bruno Soares had comprehensively beaten Pablo Carreño Busta and Guillermo García-López to claim the pair’s second major title win, and Jamie’s third in all. “We talk more.”
On closer reflection, the claim isn’t as surprising as it would seem. Murray and Soares are a committed pairing who spend most days together, singleminded when it comes to achieving the same goals.
As instinctively as Jamie knows and understands his brother, theirs will forever be a part-time, ad hoc arrangement. Unless, that is, a vague goal to possibly play more together on the tour as they get older comes to pass.
While Jamie arrives in Glasgow this week as the only undisputed doubles specialist in either team, his arrangement with his younger sibling tends to work best in the Davis Cup arena. Five times they have played together – meeting both obscure names and household ones – despatching all five.
There was Laurent Bram and Mike Vermeer of Luxembourg back in 2011, Nicolas Mahut and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, Sam Groth and Lleyton Hewitt of Australia and Steve Darcis and David Goffin of Belgium on Britain’s glory run of 2015, not to mention Yoshihito Nishioka and Yasutaka Uchiyama of Japan earlier this year in Birmingham.
The need to extend that record to an even half dozen has rarely been greater than it will be today, when ostensibly at least they will take on Argentine duo Federico Delbonis and Leonardo Mayer in a rubber which Great Britain simply cannot afford to lose.
“From a personal point of view, it’s super-exciting for me to be playing here in Scotland, to play in front of a packedout house with the incredible atmosphere that I’m sure will be the same as last year,” said Jamie.
“We know it’s going to be a very difficult match against a really tough team, but I think we’re all looking forward to getting out there and competing an playing in front of so many people in such a noisy crowd.”
Overall, the Murray brothers have won 34 and lost 24 matches in all, hoovering up a couple of tour events, one in Valencia in November 2010 and another in Tokyo in 2011, along the way. But Olympic play continues to be a theatre of cruelty.
While many top singles players also enter the doubles events at the Olympics, the Murrays have only won a solitary match in three attempts, the most recent disappointment coming in a first round defeat to Andre Sa and Thomaz Bellucci in two tight tie-breakers in Rio.
The good news for Great Britain, though, is that the form of their provisional opponents – assuming Daniel Orsanic is as good as his word – is even more patchy. In eight tour events together, Federico Delbonis and Leonardo Mayer have won just one match, ironically against British squad member Dom Inglot and his then partner Treat Huey of the Philippines. They have yet to play a single Davis Cup rubber together and most observers will only believe that will be Argentina’s pairing when they walk out on court.
Dan Evans, who partnered Nick Kyrgios at the US Open, is theoretically an option to replace Andy Murray should the world No.2 conclude that his body is too banged up after his fivehour ordeal against to play all three days. But the Murray brothers are still Britain’s best bet if they are to salvage anything out of this tie.
AT FULL STRETCH: Jamie and Andy Murray have British hopes resting on their shoulders this afternoon as they seek to overturn a 2-0 deficit against Argentina.