Australian Open: Jamie Murray accuses LTA of not recognising doubles contribution as eight Brits progress

Britain has seven men’s doubles players ranked in the world’s top 60, more than any other country

Paul Newman
Saturday 19 January 2019 13:31 GMT
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Eight British men reached the second round of the men’s doubles in the Australian Open and two are through to the third, but Jamie Murray thinks their contribution to the country’s tennis fortunes is not properly recognised. The former world No 1 also believes that the Lawn Tennis Association could make better use of Louis Cayer, whose coaching has been a key factor in the success of British players.

Britain has seven men’s doubles players ranked in the world’s top 60, which is more than any other country. All seven made the second round here, with Murray and Joe Salisbury progressing to the third.

Murray and his Brazilian partner, Bruno Soares, beat the British pair of Luke Bambridge and Jonny O’Mara 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 on Saturday and will now face Kevin Krawietz and Nikola Mektic. Salisbury, partnering Rajeev Ram, beat Pablo Cuevas and Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-2 to earn a meeting with the French pair of Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

Cameron Norrie and his American partner, Taylor Fritz, went close to joining them in the third round but failed to take three match points and were beaten 6-7, 6-3, 7-6 by Jack Sock and Jackson Withrow.

Ken and Neal Skupski went out in the second round, beaten in straight sets by the No 12 seeds, John Peers and Henri Kontinen, while Dominic Inglot and his Croatian partner, Franko Skugor, were beaten 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday by Marcelo Demoliner and Freddie Nielsen.

“Having more people at these events is important for the health of our game,” Murray said. “We had three British singles players through to the second round here but six different doubles teams with British players in them in the second round. I think that’s important.”

Salisbury, aged 26, never made it into the world’s top 500 in singles, but has made good progress in doubles. He won two titles last year, was runner-up with Ram a fortnight ago in Brisbane and is currently at a career-high position of No 27 in the rankings. Bambridge and O’Mara also won two doubles titles together last year, Inglot and Skugor won four and the Skupski brothers one.

“I think [British tennis] should celebrate more the success of the doubles because that’s the thing they’ve clearly got to be most proud about,” Murray said. “I think that should be recognised more.”

Cayer, whose first involvement with British tennis came when Judy Murray asked him to coach Jamie, has been with the LTA for 10 years. He has helped a number of British players, particularly in doubles and especially Murray, and has been an important part of the country’s Davis Cup entourage.

Jamie Murray believes Louis Cayer can be used better
Jamie Murray believes Louis Cayer can be used better (Getty)

He also helps with coach development at the LTA and was recently appointed performance advisor for the new Loughborough University National Tennis Academy programme. However, Murray would have liked to see Cayer as the country’s high-performance director. That job is currently filled by Simon Timson, who was recruited from UK Sport in 2016.

Soares, Murray’s doubles partner, said Cayer was the best coach he had ever worked with. “He makes guys play their best,” Soares said. “It’s one thing is to make Federer number one, but it’s another to make somebody that’s supposed to be 150 be 50. I think he brings the best out of every player. Every guy that he works with improves.”

Murray, who said that Leon Smith, Britain’s Davis Cup captain, was one of those who do value Cayer highly, insists that the Canadian is much more than just a doubles coach.

“So many of the coaches go to Louis for help with the players they work with,” he said. “The singles guys and girls go to him because they need help with parts of their games. They know he is the guy within the LTA that can help take them to the next level.”

Jamie Murray was speaking after he and his Brazilian partner Bruno Soares advcanced to the round of 16
Jamie Murray was speaking after he and his Brazilian partner Bruno Soares advcanced to the round of 16 (Getty)

Cayer has been a key figure at British doubles training camps in Florida which Murray has organised in the last two off-seasons. Murray said his influence had helped many of the Britons to make “huge improvements either individually or as a team”.

Murray added: “He has done an amazing job. I think everyone should be aware of that. It’s pretty impressive what he’s been able to do. We’re a country desperate to show that we can have success at tennis and desperate to show that we can produce players and have a pathway and you’ve obviously got someone there who knows how to do it and how to go about it.

“I think they should listen to him more and have him more engaged at the top, making decisions. I don’t think that has been the case over the years. For me it’s a shame because he is world-class at what he does and we’re desperate for that in our country.”

Murray said he had personally been very happy to benefit from Cayer’s coaching but added: “For the greater good, he could be doing a lot and have a lot more influence and effect on British tennis if he was in the right position and being listened to.”

For the moment, nevertheless, Murray is delighted by the current success of his fellow countrymen. “As I said to Leon the other day, for me it's been so cool because I've been playing the tour for 10 years now,” he said. “For a while it was just me and Colin [Fleming] and Ross [Hutchins] and then me and Dom [Inglot] sometimes at the big tournaments.

“Now we’re going to be playing this year and there's always going to be [British] teams in those big tournaments. For me it's a lot of fun. It's great to have so many guys around.”

In response to Murray's calls for Cayer's role to be utilised to greater effect, Leon Smith, the head of men’s tennis and Davis Cup captain at the LTA said: “Louis is a world-class coach and a fantastic asset to us. He plays a leading role in how we nurture the next generation of players and coaches and is pivotal to our success. We are also proud in how we support our best doubles players in a unique and innovative way as a federation.

“At the LTA we have an excellent new 10 year performance strategy, developed by our senior performance team This includes launching two new National Academies in 2019, and Louis will be playing a leading role in delivering one of them in Loughborough. Under Scott’s leadership I’m incredibly confident we have the right people in the right roles and the LTA is heading in the right direction.”

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