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The Murray Mafia

Joshua Mason

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The Murray Family may sound like an adorable folk band or murderous Californian cult, but it is not. Instead Andy, Judy and Jamie, who came out of a small town, have taken over British Tennis and are now setting their sights high, infiltrating all areas of the game. Andy Murray could make it another major in Australia this month as one of the favourites and with a child on the way, the family is only getting bigger. Much like the Cosa Nostra in their quest for expansion of the New World, the Murray’s are taking over Tennis, and it seems they are profiting hugely from their ‘raqueteering’.

 

Don’t Hate the Players

On the playing side, the Murray’s have two world beating foot-soldiers. Andy was always going to be the star child once he left for Barcelona as a teenager. He grew up there playing Djokovic and Nadal, which gave him the schooling he needed to get to where he is today. And today is certainly looking good – two Olympic medals, one US Open, a Davis Cup and  the Wimbledon win. It has not been an easy ride however, there have been plenty of losing battles too. Being a runner-up of 5 majors, Andy has experienced plenty of trials, but it is always about how you react. Murray has become a record breaker in British Tennis and given hope to a nation who have lived in the shadow of almost-man Tim Henman for too long.

Jamie is often the forgotten brother, (Jelena Jankovic didn’t even know who he was when she met him in Miami. He asked her to partner him at Wimbledon 2008) but has forged a road all on his own in Doubles, and like his brother, has seen unprecedented success for British Tennis. Jamie won the 2008 mixed doubles at Wimbledon and has also been the first brit in decades to reach a US Open doubles final too. He has always been at the side of his family, and at the 2015 Davis Cup he played an important role, winning the Doubles matches alongside Andy. Jamie Murray has achieved 13 ATP tour titles and will no doubt be at the forefront of the doubles game even after his playing career is over.

 

Mamma Mia

Like all good Mafia families there is a strong matriarchal character – enter Judy Murray. Born to a professional football player Roy Erskine, who played for Stirling and Cowdenbeath in the 50’s, Judy was always destined for a sporting life. Unfortunately for her it wasn’t going to be her. Despite a short stint as a pro in 1976 and playing against the likes of Debbie Jevans and Mariana Simionescu, she failed to make the grade. She could not stay away from the court long though and has lived her passion through her sons. She was their coach before finding success, and has continued her coaching to this today. She is currently helping Heather Watson as her interim coach and captains Great Britain’s Fed Cup team.

She seems to be the business brain of the Murray’s too, with an extravagant plan for a development near her hometown of Dunblane. The development which would include a Tennis Academy, Museum, Hotel and Visitor Centre would be a true legacy of the Murray’s achievements. Crucially though it was being built on greenbelt land, and the council have shown little enthusiasm for it, rejecting the initial bid. The plans also hid the fact there would be a golf course and 19 luxury homes in the development, which drew 1,000 complaints from residents. This has not stopped the Murray’s pushing for a change in the decision with a likely appeal pending. Like any self-respecting Mafia they brought in their celebrity pals to help, no not Frank Sinatra, but Sir Alex Ferguson and Colin Montgomerie who have put their backing to the idea. They will be hoping to give the council an offer they can’t refuse.

 

Keeping It In La Famiglia

Family is always number one in Mafia and the Murray’s are no different. Andy not satisfied with the amount of tennis in his life married into it this year. Kim Sears may seem like an another beautiful WAG, but her and Andy actually met through her father Nigel Sears – a British Tennis coach. He has worked with the likes of Amanda Coetzer, Daniela Hantuchová and Ana Ivanovic in his career, and his daughter Kim Sears married Murray in april last year in Dunblane.

Andy has claimed that he will fly home from the Australian Open if his wife goes into labour, as he understandably wants to be there for the birth. With the Murrays excelling in every side of singles, double, coaching and business, it is scary to think about the potential of any new member to the family. One thing is for sure, they have had an incredible impact on British Tennis and dragged the fans with them, creating a whole new level of optimism in Britain. It seems the next step will be creating a legacy, and with more Murray’s on the way, not even their rival Tennis family the Williams’ can compete at the moment.

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Andy Roddick Rate The Chances Of The Big Three At The US Open

The former world No.1 believes one member of the trio could struggle more than the others.

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Roger Federer is the member of the Big Three most likely to encounter a tough time at the upcoming US Open, according to former champion Andy Roddick.

 

The Swiss 38-year-old hasn’t won the New York Major for more than a decade after being unbeaten at the tournament between 2004-2008. However, he has reached at least the fourth round every time he has played there since 2001. In this year’s tournament Federer could have to play Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals in what will be a rematch of the Wimbledon final. At the All England Club, Federer failed to convert two match points against the world No.1 during a five-hour marathon.

Speaking about Federer on Thursday, Roddick believes his lack of match play could prove costly. The world No.3 has only played in two matches since Wimbledon. Losing in the second round of the Cincinnati Open to Andrey Rublev.

“The two clear favorites are Novak and Rafa,’’ Roddick told The New York Post. “Roger is low on match-practice. And that loss was tough at Wimbledon. He’s going to need the crowd and be lifted. Fortunately, I’ve never seen a guy more beloved than Roger. He’s going to be searching for form because he doesn’t have a lot of matches. If he can get through the first week clean, he’ll have a shot.”

Roddick is two years younger than Federer, but retired at the age of 30 back in 2012. A decision he says he has no regrets about. Even though more players are playing later in their careers. It is the Federer’s longevity that has drawn praise from the American. Who lost to him in 21 out of their 24 meetings on the ATP Tour.

“I remember Roger was carrying a back injury into the U.S. Open in 2013. People were talking after he lost to Tommy Robredo, whom he hadn’t lost to before: Is this the end? And here we are six years later, he’s one shot from winning Wimbledon and still winning majors.’’

All three players are battling it out to break the record for most grand slam singles titles won. The Record is currently held by Federer with 20 trophies. Although Nadal is closely behind with 18 and Djokovic on 16. It is Djokovic that many has tipped to one day break Federer’s benchmark given his recent success in the big events. The Serbian has won four out of the past five grand slams. The only exception was the French Open, which Nadal won.

Commenting on the race, a diplomatic Roddick stayed clear of backing a single player. Instead, he paid tribute to all three.

“It’s trying to choose the Oscar winner without seeing the last 25 percent of the movie,’’ Roddick said. “You’re asking me to predict health. I put it even-money across the board for all three of them to finish with the record.
“Novak is the most dominant day in, day out. Rafa has put his flag on the ground at the French and Roger is still able to win Slams. It is remarkable.’’

Roddick in the last American to both win a grand slam title (2003 US Open) and contest a final (Wimbledon 2009). During his career, he won 32 titles on the ATP Tour.

The US Open will get underway on Monday.

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US Open Men’s Draw: Who Will Djokovic, Federer and Nadal Play Against?

The full draw for the final grand slam of 2019 has been revelled.

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Novak Djokovic - US Open 2019 (Art Seitz)

World No.1 Novak Djokovic has been placed on a collision course with Roger Federer after both players were drawn in the same half for next week’s US Open.

 

Reigning champion Djokovic is aiming to become the first man to defend his title at Flushing Meadows for more than a decade. Following in the footsteps of rival Federer who was unbeaten at the tournament between 2004-2008. Djokovic will start his campaign against Spain’s Roberto Carballés Baena. A player currently ranked 76th in the world who has only ever won two main draw matches at a grand slam. Should Djokovic come through, he faces either Sam Querry or Juan Igancio Londero next. Also lurking in his section is 27th seed Dusan Lajovic, whom he could play in the last 32, followed potentially by either Kevin Anderson or Stan Wawrinka.

Djokovic’s projected route to:
R1: Carballes Baena
R2: Querrey/Londero
R3: Lajovic
R4: Wawrinka/Anderson
QF: Medvedev
SF: Federer

In order for a rematch of the Wimbledon final to take place, both Djokovic and Federer are required to progress to the semi-finals. In their most recent meeting, the Serbian saved two match points during a marathon five-hour battle. Recording his fourth consecutive win over the Swiss Maestro.

38-year-old Federer will be hoping to make up for his shock fourth round loss to John Millman at the tournament 12 months. He will open up his 2019 campaign against a yet to be decided qualifier. The last time Federer failed to reach the fourth round of the New York major was back in 2000. Not counting 2016 when he withdrew from the major due to injury.

Federer’s projected route to the final:
R1: qualifier
R2: Dzumhur
R3: Pouille
R4: Goffin
QF: Nishikori
SF: Djokovic

In the other half of the draw, second seed Rafael Nadal will start against Millman. The Spaniard is the only member of the Big Three to have won a trophy since Wimbledon after defending his title at the Rogers Cup. Nadal’s favourable section features four qualifiers, two wild cards and one player who gained entry with the use of their protected ranking (Cedrik-Marcel Stebe). Should the draw go according to the seedings, he could play Fernando Verdasco in the third round followed by either John Isner or Marin Cilic.

Rafael Nadal’s projected route to the final:
R1: Millman
R2: Kokkinakis
R3: Verdasco
R4: Cilic/Isner
QF: Zverev/Khachanov
SF: Thiem/Tsitsipas

The draw gods has been more friendly to some than others. Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas will lock horns with rising star Andrey Rublev in what promises to be a stern test. Not only is Rublev a former US Open quarter-finalist, he recently stunned Federer in Cincinnati. Tsitsipas is also on course for a third round showdown against the animated Nick Kyrgios, who he has recently played doubles with in Washington and Cincinnati.

Alexander Zverev’s 2019 season has been far from smooth. Nevertheless, the German will be hoping for a long awaited breakthrough in the majors. In the first round he faces Radu Albot from Moldova. Somebody who could potentially pose a threat if in top form.

Other first round matches include fourth seed Dominic Thiem against Thomas Fabbiano, rising star Daniil Medvedev against Prajnesh Gunneswaran, and another chapter of the all-Canadian rivalry between Denis Shapovalov and Felix-Auger Aliassime.

The US Open main draw will get underway on Monday.

The full draw

TOP HALF

BOTTOM HALF

 

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FEATURE: A New Era Of Russian Tennis Heads To The US Open With High Hopes

Ubitennis looks at the surge in success of Russian male players with one of the country’s top tennis journalists.

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The times are changing in Russian tennis. For years the focus has been on the rise of WTA players such as Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Anastasia Myskina. However, at this year’s US Open all the attention will be on a trio of rising stars in the men’s game.

 

For the first time since grand slam tournaments introduced 32 seeds in 2001, there will be no seeded player from Russia in the women’s draw at Flushing Meadows. Something that last happened in the tournament back in 1998. The highest ranked player at present is Daria Kasatkina at 42nd. A somewhat different situation compared to that of the ATP Tour.

Daniil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov are ranked inside the top 10 during what has been a breakthrough season for both players. 23-year-old Medvedev has become one of the most successful players since Wimbledon. Reaching three finals within as many weeks in Washington, Montreal and Cincinnati. It was in Cincinnati, where he stunned world No.1 Novak Djokovic en route to his maiden Masters title. Meanwhile, Khachanov has amassed a win-loss of 22-19 so far this year and broke into the top 10 for the first time in June.

“I hope big, but you never know. Two guys from the same country in the top 10, it’s great, of course.” Khachanov commented about the impact the duo are having on Russian tennis.
“On the other side, maybe we used to have higher standards in Russia. They are expecting maybe once you start doing it more consistently, you go deeper in Grand Slams.”

Further down the rankings lies Andrey Rublev at 47th. The 21-year-old has scored two wins over top five players in recent weeks, including Roger Federer at Cincinnati. Despite being the youngest of the trio, he is the only one to have previously reached the quarter-finals of the US Open back in 2017. Since then, his journey on the tour has been marred by injury. However, he recently reached the final of the German Open.

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There is no doubt that the Russia men are on the rise in the world of tennis. Giving a boost to their country’s Davis Cup team, who last won the trophy back in 2006. But how significant is this surge in reality?

Maria Nikulashkina is an editor for Russian sports newspaper Sport Express with an extensive knowledge of the tennis circuit in her country. Speaking with Ubitennis, she believes the trio has provided a new sense of hope.

“Nikolay Davydenko retired. Mikhail Youzhny had played until last autumn, Andrey Kuznetsov had not bad results from time to time and even Evgeny Donskoy once beat Roger Federer. In general, there weren’t a lot of reasons to talk about Russian men’s tennis in positive ways.” She explained.
“Now everything’s changed. Medvedev, Khachanov and Rublev are pushing each other to the best results. After few years of silence Russian men’s tennis is on top. It even seems like things are going too fast sometimes. But it is great and a reason to be proud of these guys.”

There is no doubt in her mind that during the remainder of the season Russia’s focus will be on the men. Although that isn’t to suggest that Russian women’s tennis are in a crisis with 11 players currently inside the top 100.

“Though I do believe Dasha (Kasatkina) will bring her best tennis back, Svetlana Kuznetsova is flying high and Veronika Kuderetova can improve, the Russian young men are the ones Who’ll make best results in 2019.” Said Nikulashkina.

US Open dreams

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With the Big Three maintaining a strong hold on the ATP Tour, it would still require an exceptional performance for somebody such as Khachanov, Medvedev or Rublev to triumph at the big events. In fact, in the Open Era only one Russian man has ever contested a final at the US Open. That was Marat Safin, who claimed the title back in 2000.

Perhaps the best chance lies with Medvedev given his recent surge in form and his at times kamikaze-like serving where he blasts his second serve no matter what.

“I’m sure I can win a Masters because I just did it, but winning a Grand Slam is different. At this moment I haven’t been in the quarter-final yet.” The world No.5 recently admitted.
“I will try to do my best to win everything, but at this moment I need to take it step by step and just become better player every day.” He added.

According to Nikulashkina Medvedev has a history of peaking too early before a grand slam. Citing 12 months ago as an example when he won the Winston-Salem Open before losing in the US Open third round to Borna Coric. So far in his career, Medvedev has played in 11 grand slam main draws. He has only managed to win back-to-back matches in four of those with his best run being to the fourth round of the Australian Open in January.

“Last year Daniil won Winston Salem before US Open and was absolutely out of gas in round three match against Coric.” She points out.
“He had good results on clay this spring (Monte-Carlo SF, Barcelona F) and lost in 5 in French Open first round.’
“I hope one week will be enough for him to recharge physically and mentally, but I have some concerns he’ll not be able to go that far. But I’ll be glad to be mistaken.”

Living in the shadows

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It remains to be seen what the future careers of Medvedev, Khachanov and Rublev will bring. Some are hopeful that they can match or even potentially excel the achievements of previous stars from their country. Including Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who are the only Russian men to win a major title in singles during the Open Era.

These comparisons are inevitable and occur around the world. One example being those tipping Coco Gauff to become the next Serena Williams. It is always an honour to be compared with a legend of the sport, but it also has it drawbacks.

“I actually feel sorry for young players sometimes because every time they are named the “second Safin” and “new Kafelnikov”. Nikulashkina told Ubitennis.
”No doubt that Evgeniy and Marat had wonderful and successful careers and no one could repeat the results since, but young players are not allowed to be themselves – just Rublev, Khachanov and Medvedev. I know the guys are working very hard to have the results they have. And all of them are very dedicated. And they are very talented and have potential to win big things, but I actually I don’t see any of them winning a Grand Slam right now.’
“Maybe in the next few years with hard work and the same dedication to tennis and improving their game and mentality it could be possible.”

Should Russia get a male grand slam champion in the coming years, it will be a test for the popularity of the sport. The country has an extensive and highly respected reputation in tennis, but is by far not the most popular sport. When Simona Halep won the Wimbledon Championships, she returned back to Romania and had a special stadium event in her honour. Was that to happen in Russia, Nikulashkina believes the outcome would be somewhat different.

“The interest in tennis is growing but maybe not as fast as all of us want. Football, MMA fighting, figure skating even in off-season and even volleyball national teams matches attract more attention than tennis. I do not see the situation of Halep/Romania can be repeated in Russia right now. If one the guys win a Grand Slam 30000 people will not come to congratulate him.”

The US Open will get underway on Monday. Medvedev will be seeded fifth and Khachanov ninth. Rublev will not be seeded.

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