It was disappointing but it was not the end of the world: Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares were beaten in the semi-finals of the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals for the third year running.
They lost to Mike Bryan, the world No.1, and Jack Sock, the world No.4, 6-3, 4-6, 10-4 yesterday. They played well but in the match tiebreak the Americans played better. It was that simple.
“It’s disappointing to lose, obviously,” Murray said. “It was a good level match, high level match. A lot of good points being played. We finished the second set strongly, created a lot of opportunities, I felt, going into the tiebreak.
“I thought we had a great chance to win today. I’m sure they thought they had a great chance to win, too. Two pretty evenly matched teams, I would say, on paper. Came down to a tiebreak. They played better at the end than we did.”
It has not been a stellar year for Murray and Soares, not by their standards at any rate. Two years ago, they were crowned as the year-ending No.1 team; this year they are No.4 in the pecking order. That is a decent enough showing for a lot of players but having been at the top, the Scots-Brazilian partnership wants to get back there. And fast.
“We were never really contending for No.1 this year,” Murray said. “For me, you know, I put a lot into my tennis. I want to be the best. I want to finish at No.1 or compete for that. So from that aspect, it was probably a bit of a disappointing season.
“I think we played a lot of really good tennis the second half of the year. Our results showed that. We won a lot of matches. We played some good tennis here, winning three matches against three of the top eight teams in the world. I think that will give us hopefully good momentum going into next year.”
The goal, then, is clear: “Try to be No.1,” Murray said. “That’s what we’re here for.”
There have been glimpses of that sort of form in the past few months – they won their first Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati in August – but they never made up the ground they lost with their sluggish start to the year. But after their efforts in the past week, their confidence is high even if their spirits are a little low.
Murray will allow himself a bit of a break and a holiday before heading out to Florida to do his off-season training block and then, long before the Christmas crackers and the tinsel are packed away, he will head to Doha for the first tournament of the year. It is No.1 or bust – and there is no time to waste.