By Ros Satar, from Indian Wells
- Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares finished 2016 with two Grand Slam titles in their first year
- Murray was part of the Team GB Davis Cup winning team in 2015
- Britwatch had a banter with one of the friendliest double-acts in town.
INDIAN WELLS, USA – As the sun sets in the desert in Indian Wells, we reflect on our chat with Jamie Murray & Bruno Soares as they booked their spot in the Doubles semi-final.
As the desert half of the US hard court spring comes to a close, we were left to reflect a week and a half of what could have been for the Brits. The five singles players in the main draw ultimately failed to make the impact, but as can often be the case, there was still one man standing.
While Andy Murray got one doubles win under his belt with fellow singles player Dan Evans, they bowed out at the quarter-final stage thus missing a chance to go up against big brother Jamie Murray and his partner Bruno Soares.
We follow all the tours week in, week out, and so we are more used to seeing Murray the elder and Soares, along with Dom Inglot as regulars to track the progress of.
Yet outside of the Slams, Indian Wells is probably one of few tournaments most of the non die-hard fans take notice of. We were able to catch up with Murray and Soares along with Russell Fuller of the BBC in the infamous Indian Wells Mixed Zone.
Infamous as you literally leave the premises to run in the blazing sun to the players entrance). In fact as we were interviewing the guys, the tannoy called Garbiñe Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova to their gold buggy to be driven to court, while half way through the interview Marcelo Melo and Lukasz Kubot swung by to congratulate them (on their way to bouncing Murray the younger and Evans out of the tournament)!
So is it frustrating to only come to the nation’s consciousness after all the singles players burnt out in the desert?
Murray said: “I don’t really care, I mean as long as we’re winning, me and Bruno, that’s the most important thing. Of course it’s nice when other guys are in the tournament, winning matches and doing well, then there’s a feel good factor but I mean the most important thing for me is that me and Bruno are winning and so far this week we’ve been doing that.”
After teaming up last year and blazing a trail at the start of last year winning Sydney and for Murray to win his first Slam after two runners-up plates (Wimbledon and US Open with former partner John Peers), the bar was set extremely high, so it was a shock to all when they exited the Australian Open as defending champions in their first round.
He continued: I mean we’re on a good run at the moment. I think since Australian Open was a big disappointment for us, I think we felt coming into this six week swing we were on, it was a big chance for us to set ourselves up for a good year with some good results.
“We’ve been playing really well, I mean we played really well in Acapulco, We played some good matches in Rio as well. As Bruno said we’ve beaten three of the top teams in the world to get to quarters – yeah feeling good, we like our chances and yeah ready to go in the semis.”
The pair make quite a double act. Soares is chatty, joking around while Murray was giving his opinions on the proposed Davis Cup changes, and despite not as much luck at the start of this season, the pair still feel they are heading in the right direction.
In 2016 they were edged out of the Canada and Monte Carlo Masters and ended the first Masters tournament of the year in the semi-finals, losing to Melo and Kubot 3-6 7-5 10-5. The guys had come from 1-4 down in the first set to turn things around, but couldn’t not quite get there in the end.
Life on the road as doubles often feels like a marriage – they are together on and off the court, and so far this ‘marriage’ is still ticking along nicely, as Soares explained:
“I think just more experience as a team. We played one year together. I mean last year even though we know each other pretty well, we know our games styles, you get put into the same side of the court as a team. I think one year after that we’re more experienced as a team. Now just got to use that.”
While they would go on to lose the semi-final, there were still good signs, according to Murray who has never won a Masters despite now having two Grand Slam titles (three if we count his hits and giggles with Jelena Jankovic to win the Mixed Doubles in Wimbledon 2007).
“These tournaments are the hardest ones to win, because you have all the top singles guys playing. We lost two finals last year which again or me was like a step in the right direction.You know this year want to go one further and try to win.”
Murray was also instrumental along with his kid brother in securing Britain’s Davis Cup title and their first since 1936. But with the proposed new reforms, the double-act nature of his partnership with Soares kicked in. The proposal would reduce the five set matches to three and the whole tie would be played over two days, much like the Fed Cup format for the women.
While Murray quite rightly points out that for a doubles player to miss out on the traditional (and often pivotal) Doubles Saturday and quite possibly not play at all in a deciding rubber on Sunday is ‘rubbish’, Soares tried to persuade him about the guts and glory of being the doubles guys, deciding the final, the whole world watching!
For all their joking though, the proposals have had a mixed reception amongst players, pundits and fans. But there is no denying that things do have to change, as Murray pointed out if they want to maintain an annual event, and have top singles players committing to representing their country.
Alas though – as so often seems to be the case, the organisations who make the decisions rarely make use of the valuable input on offer – as Murray said – they just roll with the punches.
Brits will be in action at the Miami Open, which takes place between 22 March to 2 April.
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