Stand aside Bob and Mike Bryan, the Murray brothers are coming.
Scotland’s most famous tennis playing siblings may not have the huge collection of grand slam titles that the American twins have amassed over the years, they may not be the No 1 ranked team in the world, but after their impressive display against the French in the Davis Cup quarter-final yesterday, they have proved themselves a force to reckoned with on any surface and on any occasion.
To represent your country with your brother and win a match like this is very specialAndy Murray
Britain’s hopes of reaching the last four of the Davis Cup was always going to hinge on the doubles. A point apiece after the first day, whoever got the upper hand yesterday would go into today’s reverse singles with the wind in their sails. That honour goes to Britain after Andy and Jamie overwhelmed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Nicolas Mahut 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-1.
Leading the French 2-1, Britain just need one more point to secure that semi-final ticket. First on court today will be Andy to face either Gilles Simon or Richard Gasquet. Simon, whom Murray has beaten 12 times out of 14, is officially the French No 1 but the French captain, Arnaud Clement, can replace him if needs be and can leave the selection as late as one hour before today’s match. But Gasquet’s record against the Scot is not good: played eight, won three. And on grass, he has lost both his matches against the world No 3.
Jamie, the Wimbledon doubles finalist, was always going to play yesterday – it was just a case of whether he would play with his brother or with Dom Inglot. In the end, it was a simple decision: Andy is, by far, the best player in the tie, he has played enough doubles in his time to be a solid partner for any player and he knows his brother’s game inside out. In all, the Murrays have played 53 times on the professional tour and have collected two titles in their travels. For Leon Smith, Britain’s captain, Andy and Jamie were the obvious choice.
“How good was that?” Smith said, beaming from ear to ear. “Everyone talked about this being a key rubber. We might play it down a little bit beforehand, but obviously it was. I’ll give you the cliché, as I should do: there’s still a lot of tennis to be played. But it certainly gives us a hell of a good position going into tomorrow – much better than being 2-1 down, let’s be honest. The team energy and the chemistry was fantastic and the crowd was just phenomenal again.”
The crowd was, indeed, phenomenal. The introduction of the Scots brought the house down and after a slow start on Friday, the Queen’s Club regulars are getting the hang of this Davis Cup lark: polite applause is frowned upon; patriotism and jingoism is the order of the day. And as the Murrays were giving the packed stands plenty to cheer about, the noise levels rose noticeably as the afternoon wore on.
It took Andy a while to find his bearings – he has only played six doubles matches all year and has not played with his brother for two years – but once he got into his stride, he just got better and better as the match progressed. It was Andy who dropped his serve in the opening game but after that, the Scots did not face another break point until the very end as Jamie served out for the victory.
But it was Jamie who was a revelation. He has played well in Davis Cup before, but alongside his brother, he sometimes looks overshadowed by Andy’s reputation and status. Andy, on the other hand, freely admits that he gets nervous for Jamie because he is so desperate for his brother to do well. But yesterday it was Jamie who was rock solid and who, for the first set and a half, was playing better than the world No 3. Reaching the Wimbledon final just a week ago seems to have given Jamie a new level of confidence. He played as if he believed he was on a level footing with his brother – and that was more than the French could handle.
“We played an unbelievably high-level match against a top team,” Andy said. “There was an absolutely fantastic atmosphere. To represent your country with your brother and win a match like this is very special. I thought both of us served well, apart from the first game when I got broken. I don’t think they had any more break points until Jamie’s last service game, so we didn’t give them too many opportunities there. We wanted to keep lots of energy on the court and play as a team from start to finish.
“We made adjustments as the match went on. Both of us returned really well.”
The only concern was when Andy slipped and went down like a sack of potatoes in the penultimate game of the third set. He limped gingerly to the side of the court for extensive treatment to his hip and groin but just as the crowd had started to worry, he was back up and running again and from that point on, the Murrays lost just two more games.
“It’s not so much my groin, more the hip,” Murray explained. “I slipped a little bit yesterday. Thankfully it’s OK. It was just a bit sore. I’ve only got one more match tomorrow and then I can rest. I will go and recover now and get patched up for tomorrow and hopefully I can put on another good performance.”
One more performance like yesterday’s and Britain and the Murray brothers will be on their way to the semi-finals.