For a deposed champion, Jamie Murray was in reasonably good spirits.
The mixed doubles title he had won with Martina Hingis last summer and then tried to defend with Victoria Azarenka this past fortnight had been taken away from him 7-6, 6-3 by Alexander Peya of Austria and Nicole Melichar of the United States.
The final had been a disappointment, but the journey to get there had been enjoyable. The scratch pairing of Murray and Azarenka had been brokered by Murray’s regular doubles partner Bruno Soares, and it had gelled quickly. They may not be the most conventional doubles pairing in the world – Azarenka prefers to stick to the baseline and let Murray do all the tricky stuff up at the net – but they still managed to fight their way out of some awkward corners along the way.
“It’s been awesome,” Murray said. “We earned it. Bloody hell, we earned it, got to the final. Played a lot of tennis.
“It was a lot of fun to play with Vika. She’s such a great player, such a champion. Yeah, it was a lot of fun for me. Obviously I’m disappointed in the doubles. It’s nice to come back and have a run in the mixed.
“Obviously we lost today, which is disappointing when you worked so hard to get to the final. But over the course of the two weeks, we put a lot of good tennis out there, fought hard through difficult moments. Overall, we’ve got to be pleased with how it went. It’s not easy to get to Grand Slam finals.
Peya’s serve proved to be unbreakable and Melichar was playing a blinder as she desperately tried to make amends for losing in the women’s doubles final on Saturday evening. At the same time, Murray and Azarenka were fighting hard but they were not coordinating particularly well.
“I lost my serve at the start of things,” Murray said. “That didn’t really help. I didn’t really return well enough, to be honest. I didn’t really give Vika any chances to put pressure on them. Didn’t feel like I really served that good either, to be honest. I was disappointed at my performance. I Started to kind of get it together a bit with the second set on the returning side of things.
“They played well. Very solid. Alex played a lot of good stuff up at the net. Made the spaces very small to hit into. Nicole, I thought, played really well, too.”
The good news from yesterday was that his ailing knee is slowly getting better. He has been plagued by a series of knee issues since the start of the year and as soon as one starts to get better, another one kicks in. But, despite the heavy strapping, he was in no pain in the final.
“The last few days, I’ve been happy with the way that progressed,” he said.
“It’s been better this grass court season. I’ve been a lot happier with it than the earlier parts of the year.”
Once the disappointment fades, there might be a chance that Murray and Azarenka (or Muzz-Azz) might team up again in New York for the US Open. Azarenka just wants matches – any matches – as she makes her way back from having her first child 18 months ago and playing alongside the Scot is a very enjoyable way of doing it.
“I would love to play with him again,” Azarenka said. “It was really fun the last two weeks. I think it was important for me to play and be in those situations where the momentum changes a lot of times, try to figure out the way. It was definitely for me a positive. I’m happy that we went so far, and I’m trying to just build up from these matches.”