Big brother doubles up in effort to grab spot in the limelight
Twelve months after winning Britain's first title at SW19 in 20 years, Jamie Murray is looking for a repeat.
Monday 30 June 2008
Twelve months ago Jamie Murray was one of the heroes of the second week of Wimbledon. With brother Andy pulling out on the eve of the tournament because of a wrist injury and Tim Henman departing in the second round, it took the British No 1's older brother to thrill the home crowd by winning the mixed doubles title in partnership with Jelena Jankovic. It was the first British win at Wimbledon for 20 years.
The partnership has not been renewed this year as Jankovic wants to concentrate on her singles campaign, but Murray still has hopes of doubles success. He is playing mixed with Liezel Huber, one of the best doubles players in the women's game, and is through to the third round of the men's doubles in partnership with Max Mirnyi.
Having made his breakthrough last year alongside the American Eric Butorac, Murray ended the partnership last summer and teamed up at the end of the year with Mirnyi, a former world No 18 in singles who has enjoyed even more success in doubles. The 30-year-old from Belarus has won 34 doubles titles, with Wimbledon the only Grand Slam crown that has eluded him so far.
Murray and Mirnyi have won just one title and have not yet made a mark at the Grand Slam events, having lost in the first round at both the Australian and French Opens. Their lone title came in February on the hard courts at Delray Beach, where they beat the world's No 1 pairing, Mike and Bob Bryan, to win the trophy.
They also reached semi-finals in March at Indian Wells, where they beat the Bryan brothers in the quarter-finals, and on grass at Queen's Club earlier this month. In the first round here Murray and Mirnyi beat the Frenchmen Marc Gicquel and Fabrice Santoro. In the second round on Saturday they were too good for James Cerretani, of the United States, and Victor Hanescu, of Romania, winning 6-4, 6-4, 7-6.
They have yet to drop a set but now face the highly experienced No 2 seeds, Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic, in the third match on Court 3 this afternoon. Later in the day Murray returns to the same court to partner Huber in their first match in the mixed doubles, having had a bye in the first round. They meet Russia's Dmitry Tursunov and Nadia Petrova.
If Murray's matches have drawn little attention so far it is probably because his matches have coincided with his brother's, a pattern which is likely to continue today as Andy is last on Centre Court against Richard Gasquet.
On Saturday their mother and grandparents dashed between courts to see both of them play. "Both my matches were played at the same time as Andy's but that's the way it is," Jamie said after Saturday's win. "He was playing first and I think they were watching him. I didn't actually see my grandma in the crowd, but I saw my Mum come halfway through the third set." Murray has been encouraged by the recent form he and Mirnyi have shown. "It's been good on the grass so far," he said.
"It's going to get a lot tougher now, but I think if we keep working hard together on being more of a team as opposed to just two players on the court then we will see the results and things will get better for us.
"The more you play together the more you get to know each other's habits, what they like to do on the court, what's going to make them tick. Today he needed to help me out a bit and he did that. That's how we got through the first set.
"I think we played well in the first two sets. We got the breaks and I was returning much better than the first day. In the third set I probably expected that we were going to get another break and started to get a bit agitated when it didn't happen. But we played a good tie-breaker and look forward to the next round."
The Scot described Nestor and Zimonjic as the form team of men's doubles. "They won Queen's and they were in the final at the French," he said. "They're confident. They're playing well. We know it's going to be a tough match for us, but we're looking forward to it. We're feeling good about our game and who knows what's going to happen."
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