There may a distinct lack of Andy Murray around the cavernous O2 arena for the ATP World Tour Finals this year but his big brother is doing his bit for the family honour.
Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares marched into the doubles semi-finals last night, squashing the late challenge of Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo 6-2, 6-4 and finishing top of the Woodbridge-Woodforde Group. From the disappointment of letting their opening match against the Bryan bothers slip away from them on Monday, Murray and Soares have gritted their teeth and sharpened their game.
That Kubot and Melo took their time to get started was hardly a surprise. They had secured the end-of-year No 1 ranking earlier in the week and they knew that, win or lose last night, they were safely through to the last four. But there is still pride to play for and when the top seeds stood at 5-0 down, Kubot growled and grumbled and managed to fire himself and his partner up to make a match of it.
But that was not enough to stop an equally fired-up Murray and Soares. Losing their early lead in the second set, the Scots-Brazilian team fended off the attack and finally snuffed it out after 73 minutes.
Standing between them and a place in their first Tour Finals final are Henri Kontinen and John Peers, a familiar sight across the net. They have played the Finnish-Australian duo five times over the past two years but have only won once. Like Murray and Soares, Kontinen and Peers opened their account in London with a defeat but have been flexing their muscles with greater and greater ease ever since.
“We know we can do it,” Murray said. “It’s going to be a difficult match, obviously. But I think, after the two matches we played here, I don’t see why we should be worried about going to play them.”
Meanwhile, David Goffin claimed the last place in the singles semi-finals with an edgy 6-4, 6-1 win over his friend Dominic Thiem. Never the sturdiest of mental competitors, Goffin struggled to take control in the first set but, once he had that in the bag, Thiem deflated and the Belgian world No 8 was on his way.
Now, though, Goffin has to find a way past Roger Federer, something he has tried to do – and failed – six times in the past, most recently in Basel, where he took a clumping. If he thought beating his pal was hard yesterday then trying to beat the six-time champion and the crowd’s darling is going to be pressure on a completely different level.
“Honestly, I don’t know what to do,” Goffin said with alarming honesty. “But I’m going to try something, something different, something that I’ve never done in the past.
“In Basel, it was not easy. Roger played well. He didn’t miss. He was really aggressive, as always. He returned so well. So it was not easy. I hope that tomorrow he’s not going to play the same match. But I will try something different for sure, yeah.