If this time next week, Jamie Murray is crowned as the doubles champion of the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals, he could be taking home £200,000 – and then maybe he will be able to afford a painter and decorator.
As a team, Murray and Bruno Soares, pictured inset, are ranked No.4 in the world but standing between them and the trophy are the other seven best doubles teams in the world. Over the coming eight days, they must find a way through the round-robin stage of the competition and then hope that they can reach their first final at London’s O2 Arena. Should they lift the trophy as the unbeaten champions (so no mishaps in the round-robin stage), they will share $517,000. And Murray is more than confident that that is a possibility.
“The doubles game is so open,” he said. “The first half of this year, we didn’t really have that much success, lost a lot of close matches, tiebreaks. But I don’t think we ever lost our faith in the team or anything like that because we still feel like when we’re there competing well together, we’re a great team.
“I think probably we’ve beaten every team here and lost to every team, so we know that all the guys are difficult on their day. There are no easy teams. That’s just not the way it works – that’s why it’s the best eight teams: there’s no bluffers.”
Today they will open the tournament, taking on Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus, the pair who beat them in the Wimbledon quarter-finals. That marathon five-setter was a tough loss to take, but from there, Murray and Soares started to gather momentum, winning in Washington and collecting their first Masters 1,000 title in Cincinnati. Now, back in London for the fourth time, Murray wants more silverware.
“For us it would be awesome to win,” he said. “We’ve played a lot of good tennis the second half of this year, won a lot of matches. We trained well the last few days, we’re feeling good. It’s the biggest event on the ATP Tour. When people say ‘so-and-so has won the Tour Finals’, it registers with me so it does mean a lot for the doubles guys.”
It would mean a lot to Mrs Murray, too. She – Alejandra – has little interest in tennis which is just the way Murray likes it. In a long year of travel, match play, practice, more travel, jetlag, more practice – it can seem like groundhog day at times – the chance to be at home and just be a normal husband is sheer bliss. And it is the best way to recharge his batteries. Or it is until something needs doing around the house. There is no chance of Murray papering the front room any time soon.
“She would like me to do that,” Murray said sheepishly, “but to be honest that wouldn’t work out well for her because I would ruin everything. She had a degree in industrial design, so she is used to making stuff. Me? I couldn’t do anything. I could tell you maybe what an allen key was.”
To win next Sunday would make Murray the first Briton to win the World Tour Finals doubles. And it would get him out of DIY duties for the foreseeable future. It is no wonder Murray says the event is the most important on the ATP calendar.