Jamie Murray is on the other side of the world playing in Zagreb, but Britain’s No 1 doubles player would no doubt have been interested to hear the result of the mixed doubles final here today. It proved rather a one-sided contest, with Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi beating Nathalie Dechy and Andy Ram 6-3, 6-1.
It was Dechy and Ram who sent Murray packing from Melbourne. The Franco-Israeli combination beat the Scot and his partner, Liezel Huber, in the second round after a champions’ tie-break, completing a less than productive tournament for Murray. In the men’s doubles, in partnership with Eric Butorac, he lost in the first round to Nicolas Lapentti and Tommy Robredo.
Murray, 22, is a highly respectable No 29 in the world doubles rankings, but in one sense his career has stalled over the last year. Twelve months ago he was beginning a new partnership with Max Mirnyi, one of the game’s most experienced doubles players, but, after a promising beginning, it did not work out and they parted company. This year he is starting out again with Dusan Vemic, a 32-year-old Serb.
Murray was philosophical after his defeat here. “It’s fine,” he said. “Every week only one person can win. Everyone else loses. I haven’t really performed as well as I’d have liked, but there’s always next week.”
John Lloyd, Britain’s Davis Cup captain, hinted here that Ross Hutchins might be preferred to Murray for the tie against Ukraine in Glasgow, but the Scot insisted: “It’s not something I'm thinking about. I'd much rather be focusing on starting my partnership with Dusan again and trying to win matches in Zagreb.
“I did quite well after the Australian Open and up until Indian Wells last year and I've got quite a few ranking points to defend. For me, it's much more important to try and do well these next four or five weeks than worry about whether I'm going to get picked for Davis Cup. At the end of the day, it's one match. I would obviously want to play, especially as it's in Scotland, but it's not the end of the world if I'm not picked in the team. Ross is playing well and maybe he deserves it.”
Does Murray feel his confidence is low at the moment? “Yes, it's possible. Certainly since the US Open last year, I didn't win a whole lot of matches. I was playing with different people and I wasn't really asserting myself on the court as much as I should have done. I worked pretty hard in the off-season on things that I needed to work on but probably don't really get the chance to do so much on a doubles court. The first couple of weeks this year I played some good matches, though Melbourne was obviously disappointing.
“Obviously I would like to be doing better. I certainly haven't done as well as I would have liked, certainly last year, even though I finished at a career-high ranking. I know I've improved as a player in the last couple of months. My tennis is probably more in the spotlight at Grand Slams because that's where tennis gets covered most and obviously my results there have been pretty poor, so I guess it probably doesn't look as good on paper.
“I'm still putting myself out there and doing the best I can to win matches, but it's difficult because there are a lot of good players out there. Certainly with the way the scoring works, you can be unlucky sometimes and lose a lot of close matches, as I think I did last year. I lost a lot of tie-breaks, which I guess anyone can win. You need to just get out there and work hard and keep putting yourself out there and trying to win.”
This week offers a good chance to start rebuilding. Murray and Vemic are the No 3 seeds in Zagreb. In the first round they meet Philipp Petzschner and Alexander Peya, the winners to play Igor Andreev and Viktor Troicki or Paul Hanley and Jordan Kerr. Murray and Vemic are seeded to meet the top pair, Martin Damm and Robert Lindstedt, in the semi-finals.