ATP World Tour Finals: Jamie Murray’s on the up and up with his peers

With brother Andy ruled out, Jamie could still fly the family flag in the season’s grand finale in London

There could be a Murray at the O2 Arena after all. Andy Murray has withdrawn from next month’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals following back surgery but brother Jamie and his partner, John Peers, could yet qualify for the season-ending finale.

The 27-year-old Scot and the 25-year-old Australian are firmly in contention for one of the eight doubles places in London after their run to the semi-finals of the Shanghai Rolex Masters.

With three titles in the bag this year, Murray is enjoying his best campaign since his breakthrough season in 2007, when he won three doubles tournaments with Eric Butorac as well as the Wimbledon mixed doubles title with Jelena Jankovic. Teaming up with Max Mirnyi the following year did not work out and for the next four seasons Murray chopped and changed partners.

In February this year he was languishing at No 92 in the world rankings. In today’s updated ranking list, he is expected to climb back into the world’s top 30 for the first time for two years. The Scot has a spring back in his step, his spirits having been revived by the partnership with Peers.

Murray and Peers, who are competing in Vienna this week, played their first World Tour 500 tournament as a team in Tokyo, where they reached the final. Their run in Shanghai in their first Masters Series outing together, which ended in a 7-6, 7-6 defeat to David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco on Saturday, has put them in with a chance of making it to the O2 Arena, where the field comprises the eight doubles pairs who have won the most ranking points in the year. However, they need to make up ground on at least three of the pairs above them in the “Race for London”.

“People keep asking me about London,” Murray said. “To be honest, it’s not been on my radar at all. For us to come close is a pretty big effort, considering that we haven’t played in most of the big tournaments the teams ahead of us have played.

“Now that our rankings have moved up, hopefully we can start to play more of those tournaments next year. I think next year we’ll give it a good go. If a miracle happens and we make it this year we’ll have had a great end to the year, but for me it’s not something I’m thinking about.”

Peers, a tour latecomer after playing college tennis in the US, had singles ambitions but decided to concentrate more on doubles this year. Murray practised with him at the Australian Open in January and suggested playing together. “I said: ‘We’re similar ranking, we’re both pretty young, we speak the same language. Why don’t we give it a try for a couple of months and see how it goes?’”

The new team reached the semi-finals in Montpellier in their first outing in February and won their first title in Houston in April, beating the Bryan brothers in the final. Titles in Gstaad and Bangkok followed, plus a run to the quarter-finals of the US Open.

“We’ve got different styles, which I think works well,” Murray said. “He has all the attributes that you need for doubles. If you watch doubles now so much of it is about big serves, big returns. He has a great serve and he’s learning a lot about how to return. He has a huge forehand, plus he moves so well at the net and volleys well.

“John can trade big shots with opponents. I don’t have the ability to hit 10 big forehands cross-court, but I can do other things. I can chip the ball and come forward and make it difficult for guys. There are things he’s learning on the return, like how important it is to set your partner up. I can do things at the net to maybe help get the breaks, but if the ball goes back to him he can hit some great forehands. So we have lots of different ways to win points.

“He’s only a couple of years younger than me, but in tennis terms I’m quite a bit older because he’s only played on the tour for a couple of years. He’s got a lot of energy and he doesn’t have any fear.”

Murray enjoys not having to spend so much emotional energy worrying who will be his partner in upcoming tournaments. “I always used to be thinking: ‘In two or three weeks’ time I’m not going to have a partner so I need to find someone.’ It was often a case of messaging 20 guys, seeing who was free. Peace of mind, calmness, continuity – all those words – have definitely helped me. I think it’s helped John as well. It’s exciting. We’re both enjoying it. Everyone enjoys success.

“Every time you turn up at a tournament there’s that calmness there because you’re playing with the same guy, you know what each person’s about on the court, what they’re trying to do, their strengths and weaknesses, what we need to do to perform. Even if we lose in the first round we can practise together for the week.

“John’s a really nice guy. He wouldn’t say a bad word about anyone. We don’t live in each other’s pockets, which I think is a good thing because you spend so much time with each other at the courts that you can spend every waking minute with each other. You probably shorten the shelf life of the team because eventually you just get pissed off with each other.”

This is the first year since 2007 that Murray has won three titles. “I know a lot more now, six years down the road, than I did then, especially about myself and what it takes to win,” he said. “I’m a lot more comfortable with me as a tennis player on court now. I accept my weaknesses and I accept that my strengths can be really, really good and I try to use them as much as possible, to increase my chances of winning.

“I’m enjoying my life. There are guys still playing doubles at 40, having played for 15 or 20 years, so I’m still like a baby. That’s quite scary, really.”

Jamie Murray (left) with partner John Peers in Shanghai on Saturday Jamie Murray (left) with partner John Peers in Shanghai on Saturday  

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture