Murray joins forces with Mirnyi after doubles breakthrough

Jamie Murray was back in the classroom yesterday but from next month the doubles specialist will be learning on the job with one of the most experienced hands in tennis. The 21-year-old Scot, who is attending a four-day "ATP University" course in Florida designed to help players cope with life on the professional circuit, is teaming up with Max Mirnyi, one of the outstanding doubles players of recent times.

Murray, who finished the season at No 32 in the doubles rankings, made his big breakthrough this year with Eric Butorac but decided in the summer to end his partnership with the American. He had been trying for several weeks to find a new partner for 2008 and first approached Mirnyi, who has split up with Jonas Bjorkman after three highly successful years together, last month.

The 30-year-old "Beast of Belarus" Mirnyi is 6ft 5in tall and weighs more than 14st reached No 18 in the singles rankings but has enjoyed more success in doubles, winning 33 titles. A former world doubles No 1, he is currently No 16.

"I'm really excited," Murray said. "Hopefully some of his experience can rub off on me and we make a formidable partnership."

Patricio Apey, Murray's agent, said yesterday: "Max is someone who fits Jamie's game perfectly. He's got a massive serve and I think they'll be a great pair. Max has been there and done it in Grand Slams. He's not the sort who'll get tight in a Wimbledon quarter-final."

Mirnyi is based at Nick Bollettieri's academy in Florida and Murray is likely to join him there next month before they play their first tournament together in Doha in January. Murray's brother, Andy, is also in Florida this week after spending last week training at the National Tennis Centre at Roehampton.

Rafael Nadal, the world No 2, appeared on Spanish television yesterday to deny a reported claim by his uncle and coach, Toni Nadal, that he had a foot injury that could threaten his career.

Diario de Mallorca, a daily newspaper on the player's home island, had published an interview in which Toni said the 21-year-old had had to cope with a "very serious" foot injury since 2005. "He has to learn how to live with it," Toni said. "He has to take a lot of precautions when he plays."

However the player himself, flanked by his uncle, told Spanish state television: "This injury hasn't stopped me competing at the top level for more than two years. The story that has come out is totally false."

Organisers of the BlackRock Masters at the Royal Albert Hall in London next week have announced their 12-man line-up. The field includes John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Goran Ivanisevic, Pat Cash and Michael Stich.

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