By Ros Satar at the ATP World Tour Finals, London
- Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares become the No. 1 doubles team
- Jamie was World No. 1 in doubles in April this year
- Andy became No. 1 after winning the Paris Masters and is in a battle to retain it for the year-end
LONDON, ENGLAND – It is a long way to come for the two young sons of Dunblane, as this weekend could be momentous for the family Murray.
The peculiarity of the round robin format at the season-ending finale is that quite often the final moments of glory can rest in other hands. Take for example Jamie Murray and his partner Bruno Soares. Teaming up at the start of the year, things could not have gone better.
They won their first title in Sydney after reaching the semi-finals of Brisbane the week before, and then went on to win the Australian Open. For Murray, after a landmark year where he reached the Slam finals at Wimbledon and the US Open, it really was third time’s the charm with new, chatty partner Soares.
They bookended the year with the US Open title, and in the year the elder Murray reached the No. 1 ranking in April.
They either had to reach the final at the season-ending finale or hope that their nearest rivals Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut failed to get out of the group stages. They were granted their wish and Bruno Soares could still take over the No. 1 spot in the doubles by the end of the tournament, should they go on to win.
As for little brother, he started the year once more the bridesmaid at the hands of great rival and junior friend Novak Djokovic, not once but twice in a row, as he made his first French Open final but was part of Djokovic’s career Slam.
But once we hit the grass the younger Murray surged. With Djokovic struggling with the natural lapse after such an achievement (to hold all four Slams at the same time and to have achieved the rare career Slam) Murray picked up the pce, winning Wimbledon for a second time, becoming the first person to defend an Olympic Tennis title and then picking up titles through the later part of the year while Djokovic struggled with injury.
He was rewarded, perhaps anti-climatically with an ascension to the World No. 1 spot in Paris at the hands of a Milos Raonic walkover, but now fittingly it could all come down to this weekend.
Murray has to better Djokovic’s progress here – and this could well mean defeating him in the final – something he expected he would have to do anyway, as he explained.
“I don’t think it’s significant really. I mean, there’s a good chance that if I want to win the tournament, I would have to win against him. That would either be in the semis or the final. I don’t think that makes a whole lot of difference.”
Understandably over the week a lot of the conversation has revolved around the brothers’ achievements over the past year.
Jamie, talking after their win against the Bryan Brothers said: “I guess he has to keep winning, like us. That makes things easier for everyone, I think. I’m sure he’s super motivated.
“For him to finish No. 1, that’s his goal. I’m sure it’s been the last few years. He does have a genuine chance to do it this year. He’s put himself in a good position. What an achievement it would be if he does do it.”
After their win against Ivan Dodig & Marcelo Melo, he added: “Just the opportunity to have the chance to do it is something special. I’m sure the three of us are going to do our best over the next three or four days to try to be there at the end of it.”
Here is no doubt that the bond between the brothers is very strong, their partnership on the way to their doubles triumph ably demonstrating how far they have come since kids.
Andy was seen in the late hours watching and photographing his older brother’s trophy ceremony the night before his Singles final at the Australian Open, prompting Jamie to quip that he should be tucked up in bed, like any good bigger brother would do!
The younger Murray has always been very proud of his brother’s achievements, sometimes maybe enjoying his success a little more than his own, as he explained:
“They had an amazing year. Only started playing with each other in January. Won the two slams, you know, which is fantastic. Jamie had not won a slam before this year, a men’s doubles slam. Bruno neither.
“They obviously complement each other’s games very well. They’ve played I think really good in most of the big competitions. They deserve it. They’ve obviously played extremely well this week. They knew pretty much what they were going to have to do. Won all three of their matches here. It’s a great achievement for both of them. Very proud of Jamie.”
He continued, reflecting on what many believe has been the best year of his career to date: “Obviously the whole year has been fantastic for both of us. We would like to finish it perfectly if we can. Still there’s a good chance that doesn’t happen. Yeah, regardless of what happens over the weekend, we can look back on this year and be very proud of what we’ve done as a family.”
Each Other’s Biggest Fans
The brothers went down their separate paths quite early in their lives, and there was obviously always that competitive desire.
“We obviously used to play against each other all of the time pretty much until we were like 12 to 14. That was kind of when we went our separate paths really. Jamie went down to Cambridge for, like, nine months or so. Obviously he went off to Paris, and I went off to Spain when I was 15.
“Actually, between 12 and then 17 and 18 we didn’t spend loads of time together. But before then, we were on the court together. Pretty much every time we went to practice or play tennis, it was together.
“But we didn’t play loads of tennis. We played probably four hours a week up to that point. It wasn’t like loads. But we did play golf together. We played squash together, table tennis. We were always competing against each other, from a young age.
“Now we obviously don’t. I think we’re probably each other’s biggest fans. It’s really special to get to watch what he’s achieved, you know, in the biggest competitions in the sport. Neither of us ever would have expected this when we were growing up. Need to try and enjoy it.”
So when he looks back to playing at home with his older, stronger (at times) and bigger brother – was it always like that?
He told reporters: “I mean, when we were really young, Jamie would have won most things we did. He was 15 months older, so he was bigger and stronger and better than me at most things. He was smarter than me.
“Then as we started to get older and physically were on more of a level playing field, we were pretty close really at most things. Jamie is a really good golfer. He was better at that. Football, probably me. Then like squash and table tennis, more of the racquet sports, was pretty close between the two of us really.
“Well, that’s my recollection of it. He might say something a bit different (smiling). That’s what I remember.”
Whatever happens this weekend, their achievement this weekend will have been an immense source of family pride – their grandparents and parents have all been down over the week.
On reflection – not a bad year at all for the Brothers Murray.
Andy Murray will face Milos Raonic for a spot in his first final at the ATP Finals, with Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares kicking off the evening session.
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