PICS: YPN

It’s fun, fun, fun as Jamie Murray eyes British record of Grand Slam titles

If you can’t beat them, join them. It is an old rule and one that has served Jamie Murray well in the past couple of years. Ever since he joined forces with Bethanie Mattek-Sands (his former on-court rival) he has won two US Open titles and is now through to the final of the Australian Open.

By ALIX RAMSAY
Friday, 31st January 2020, 6:07 pm

If he and Mattek-Sands beat Nikola Mektic and Barbora Krejcikova today, Murray will win his eighth major trophy and will become the most successful British grand slam champion in the Open Era. Virginia Wade is next on the list with seven titles and when it comes to male champions, Murray is streets ahead of his challengers: his brother Andy has three singles crowns, Jeremy Bates has one doubles and two mixed doubles titles and John Lloyd won three mixed doubles trophies.

“It’s not something I’d ever thought about,” Murray said, “but I guess that’s a cool record to have. But I’ve not done it yet.”

Of more importance to the Scot is finding a way to continue his winning run with Mattek-Sands. Yesterday they pushed aside last year’s beaten finalists, Astra Sharma and John-Patrick Smith from Australia, 6-3, 7-6, and now they stand one match away from their third trophy.

From the moment Murray and Mattek-Sands got together, their partnership clicked. They knew each other as opponents, they were obviously aware of the other’s reputation on the doubles circuit but that did not necessarily mean that they would gel together. But from their first match at the US Open in 2018, they did gel and they have not looked back since.

“I remember when she first texted me,” Murray said. “I was like: ‘I have got to play with Beth’. I have lost to her so many times. She is so cool at mixed doubles. For me, I cannot pass this up. I have got to do it. It has been great.”

There have been times in the past when Murray has missed the mixed doubles, choosing instead to pour all his energies into the men’s doubles. But then when such famous partners as Martina Hingis, Victoria Azarenka and now Mattek-Sands come calling, what is a chap to do?

“I got the chance to play with Hingis,” he said, “I thought I can’t say no to that. It worked out great then next year got the chance to play with Beth, another great partner – we can win and I’ll enjoy doing it at the same time. That was a lot more motivating for me rather than pitch up and just sign with someone random just for the sake of playing.

“We play great together. We have won two US Opens, we’re in the final again now. We are a good team. It’s fun to go out and play with Beth, she is great energy on the court, a great player as well. My coach Louis Cayer says to me ‘It’s fun to watch you guys, you both know what you are doing, where each other is moving to. Where you are supposed to be on the court. It’s cool. I really enjoyed it’.

“For me, every time I enter a tournament with Beth, I feel we have a great chance to go on and win the tournament.”

The main theme of the partnership appears to be “fun” – they clearly enjoy each other’s company (Mattek-Sands calls Murray her “work husband”) and they obviously enjoy playing together. The winning is a by-product of that chemistry but that does not make it any less important. The two are established champions and they do nothing by halves.

“I’m a super-competitive person,” Mattek-Sands said. “Of course, I want to win every time I go out there but when you’re playing with someone you really enjoy being out on the court with, it makes it a lot more fun.

“We’re both in it to win it through our ups and downs. I think, for me, the mixed is just about the energy and it wins matches so it’s fun. Let’s keep doing it. I come in hot sometimes, with a lot of energy, and Jamie’s kind of like the calm one out there. So, it’s a good balance of energy.”

A good balance and a winning formula. And the season is only just beginning.

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