The obvious approach to Jamie Murray’s Australian Open doubles final would be: third time lucky. Except that Murray and his new partner Bruno Soares do not need to rely on luck. They have proved in the past month that they are the real deal.
Today’s final will be Murray’s third in succession at grand slam level, a consistent run that has pushed him up the doubles rankings to No 7 in the world. Should he win today, he will rise to No 2, matching his brother in the singles order. Soares, meanwhile, last reached a major final at the 2013 US Open.
The two old friends got together at the start of the season and from their first match together at the Doha tournament they knew they were on to something. Both had split from long and successful partnerships at the end of last season – both felt they simply needed a change – and when Louis Cayer suggested to Murray that Soares might make a perfect foil for his lightning fast net game, the Scot dropped his mate a text.
“We have been friends a long time – I have known Bruno maybe ten years,” Murray said. “I just messaged him and said: ‘Look, I am looking for someone for next year. I really want to play with you, I haven’t spoken to anyone else. Do you want to do it?’ Then we spoke on the phone a bit and decided to go for it and we haven’t looked back since.”
Murray had the best season of his life last year when he played with John Peers so the pair’s decision to go their separate ways came as a surprise. But for all their consistency at the grand slams, they could not close out the final match. But with the 33-year-old Soares at his side, Murray thinks he has found a steady character to calm him when the pressure mounts in the big matches.
“I don’t think me and John necessarily dealt with it the best we could,” Murray said of his two previous major finals. “Maybe that was lack of experience. But with Bruno, he has been to grand slam finals before. He has played a lot of big matches – Masters Series, things like that. I think we go into the match with good vibes. We trust each other.
“Bruno is a very laid back guy which is great for me. I think it shows in his tennis. He just takes it one point at a time. He is very calm, very composed and that helps me. I am not going to have to worry about what he is doing, what his mentality is or anything like that. He will bring that calmness to the court. Hopefully I will as well and that is how you perform well, I think, in big events and in pressure situations. You have to keep your wits about you and stay in the moment, stay in the process and then I think good things happen.”
Already the champions of Sydney this year, Murray and Soares will today try and plot a path past the veteran pair of Daniel Nestor and Radek Stepanek (Nestor is 43 and Stepanek is 37). They, too, are a new partnership but they bring a wealth of experience to the final – between them, they have ten grand slam doubles titles. And it was Stepanek and Leander Paes who beat Soares and Alexander Peya at the US Open three years ago.
Soares believes today will be “a pure doubles match” while Murray knows it will be tough. But both believe their new partnership is good enough to win.
“They’re still churning out the wins,” Murray said of his opponents. “It is great to see, it gives us hope that we’ll still be able to do that when we’re into our 40s. They’ll be very tough to beat in this situation because they’ve done it before. We’ve obviously been to grand slam finals but we haven’t won so I guess that’s an edge they would have over us. But we’ll go out there prepared to play them and just get it done.”