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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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Rafael Nadal At Odds With Rivals Over Change Of Balls At French Open

The king of clay admits the new change will make it ‘tougher’ for him and his quest for a 13th Roland Garros title.

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This year’s French Open will take place with a new ball supplier in a move that has bemused the tournament’s most decorated player of all time.

 

12-time champion Rafael Nadal has lamented the decision to ditch the use of Babolat balls for Wilson. The new balls are said to be slower which has frustrated the world No.2 who faces the prospect of his opponents being able to return his topspin shots more easily than in the past editions in Paris. On top of that, due to the tournament taking place later in the year because of the COVID-19 pandemic the conditions will be cooler and the ball will be heavier to hit.

“In Mallorca with warm conditions, the ball was very slow, I think it is not a good ball to play with on clay, honestly. That is my personal opinion,” Nadal told reporters. “It is not the right ball to play on clay court. [And] with these conditions, it makes things tougher, no? But I knew before I arrived here. No problem at all. Just accept the challenge.”

Refusing to hold back in his views, Nadal said he hopes organisers will reconsider the use of Wilson balls after 2020. His argument is that making players hit heavier balls could put more strain on them and therefore elevates the risk of injury.

“I really believe that the organisation needs to take a look at that for the next couple of years, for the health of the players too, because the ball is super heavy. (It) becomes dangerous for the elbow and for the shoulders, I think.” He stated.

Despite only playing three matches on the clay this season, the 34-year-old remains the bookies favourite to win the French Open once again. Since his debut, the Spaniard has won 93 out of 95 matches played and has only been taken to five sets twice. However, due to the unusual circumstances this year Nadal admits that he is facing ‘the most difficult situation’ when it comes to the conditions.

Whilst the reigning champion is far from happy about the ball swap, others have been more receptive to the move. Dominic Thiem, who finished runner-up at the French Open two years in a row, says the balls are ‘good.’ Although he is another person who is partly unhappy about the change.

I practised two days at home with the ball. Now, of course, here. I’m a little bit sad because the Babolat at Roland Garros, it was my favourite ball, it was perfect,” said Thiem.
“Obviously it was the ball from my racket company. (It) was fast, was taking spin incredibly well. But the Wilson ball is good, as well. It’s just a little bit slower. It gets a little bit bigger after a while.”

Daniil Medvedev is more positive as he hopes to end his dismal run at Roland Garros. The world No.5 is yet to win a main draw match in his career after suffering three consecutive first round losses.

“I like the balls because, yeah, tennis is a funny and interesting sport,” he said.
“It’s normal that when one player doesn’t like something, second one maybe is going to like it. So far I like it. I think it suits me not bad.”

Nadal will start his French Open campaign against Egor Gerasimov.

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Seven Extraordinary Facts About Rafael Nadal’s French Open Career

UbiTennis takes a closer look at the King of clay and his remarkable run of success at the clay court Grand Slam.

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Despite only being able to play three competitive matches on the clay heading into this year’s French Open due to the COVID-19 pandemic Rafael Nadal remains the heavy favourite and with good reason.

 

The world No.2 is the most successful player of all time to have ever played at the event which dates back to 1891. He holds an array of records at the major and has incredibly won 23 more matches than any other player on the ATP Tour. His current tally stands at 93 wins compared to second place Roger Federer who is on 70.

It’s Nadal. Even though he lost (at the Italian Open), I still think a lot of people will agree, he’s the No. 1 favourite. The record that he has there and the history of his results you just can’t put anybody in front of him,” Djokovic said of his rival last week.

To put into perspective Nadal’s remarkable run at the clay-court major, here are seven things to know about his French Open career so far.

He won on his very first attempt

Nadal’s love affair at Roland Garros started back in 2005 when he was only 18. Yet to contest a major final, the Spaniard was seeded fourth in the men’s draw and impressively dropped only three sets en route to the title. Scoring consecutive wins over David Ferrer, Federer and Mariano Pueta to become only the sixth Spanish man to win the tournament in the Open Era.

When I arrived at Roland Garros for the first time in 2005, as always, I took it match-by-match, but I was aware that if I could play as well as I had played in the previous tournaments I had a chance,” Nadal reflected on the milestone.
“I was brimming with energy, the lack of awareness of someone so young and clearly I was capable of reaching important balls, that were very difficult, returning them with power, with intensity and playing with enormous passion.”

Nadal is one of only two men to have won the French Open title on their debut in the Open Era. The other was Mats Wilander who triumphed back in 1982.

Most decorated of all time

15 years on from when he lifted his first trophy, Nadal has won Roland Garros a record 12 times. Something that hasn’t been achieved by any other player since the Open Era began. Within that period the only time he didn’t win the tournament was in 2009, 2015 and 2016. Although in 2016 he withdrew during the tournament due to injury.

Prior to Nadal, the record for most men’s titles won belong to Frenchman Max Decugis who won the tournament eight times between 1903 and 1914.

Nadal’s tournament record
Champion – 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018 and 2019
Quarter-finals – 2015
Fourth round – 2009
Third round – 2016 (retired injured before the match)

Only twice has he been beaten

The 34-year-old has an incredible 97.9% winning rate at the tournament after winning 93 out of 95 matches played. The only players to have beaten him are Robin Söderling and Novak Djokovic. Söderling, who was the 23rd seed in the 2009 tournament, stunned Nadal 6-2, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, in the fourth round. Then in 2015 Djokovic prevailed 7-5, 6-3, 6-1, in the quarter-finals. Both of them went on to reach the final but failed to win the title that year.

Three of his title triumphs saw him go 21-0 in sets played

In 2008, 2010 and 2017 Nadal roared his way to the title without dropping a single set. Other players to have achieved the milestone in Paris include Ilie Nastase in 1973 and Bjorn Borg in both 1978 and 1980.

It was in 2008 when Nadal recorded his most one-sided win in a final at the French Open after crushing Federer 6-1, 6-3, 6-0.

Only twice has he been taken to the full distance

What does Djokovic and John Isner have in common? They are the only players to have taken Nadal to five sets at Roland Garros. Isner was the first to do so during the first round of the 2011 Championships and had a two-set lead at one point before the Spaniard battled back to prevail 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 6-2, 6-4. Two years later in the semi-finals Djokovic battled on court for more than four-and-a-half hours before falling 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7, 9-7.

Overall Nadal has played 304 sets in his French Open career and has won 277 of them. Working out as a 91% winning rate.

The prize money

So far in his career Nadal has earned $22,051,715 in prize money due to his success in the French capital. To put the figure in perspective, only 21 players in ATP history have earned more than that throughout their entire careers.

In comparison, Federer has made $18,719,106 at Wimbledon where he has won the title a record eight times. Meanwhile, Djokovic has claimed $19,885,780 in winnings at the Australian Open which he has also won eight times.

Overall Nadal’s career earnings stands at 121,044,734 which is the third highest of all-time. Almost a fifth (18.2%) of that is from Roland Garros alone.

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Andy Murray Set For 2017 Rematch With Wawrinka As Thiem Handed Tough Route In Paris

Dominic Thiem is given a hard draw at Roland Garros as Andy Murray meets a familiar foe in his first match.

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Andy Murray set for a 2017 Roland Garros rematch with Stan Wawrinka as Dominic Thiem handed difficult draw in Paris.

 

The Roland Garros draw has served up some tasty first round encounters with the main talking points taking place in the third quarter.

In that third quarter, sees a rematch between two grand slam champions from an epic semi-final in 2017.

Of course that match is Andy Murray taking on Stan Wawrinka in what is Murray’s first appearance in Paris since that match.

A couple of days ago, the duo were practicing in a sign of reminiscing their past, now they will do more than that when they take on each other in the first round.

However the tasty matches don’t stop there as the recent US Open champion Dominic Thiem has been given a rotten draw which includes a first round match against another former US Open champion, Marin Cilic.

Should Thiem beat Cilic then he could face tall American Reilly Opelka and Rome semi-finalist Casper Ruud before even getting to the second week.

Felix Auger-Aliassime, Andy Murray or Stan Wawrinka could wait in round four for the Austrian while Rome finalist Diego Schwartzman could be a last eight opponent.

Gael Monfils and Alexander Bublik will also clash in the pick of the first round in the third quarter.

Thiem is also in Rafael Nadal’s half, the man who is looking to win a 13th Roland Garros title.

The Spaniard will kick things off against Egor Gerasimov with Dan Evans or Kei Nishikori potentially awaiting in R3.

After a promising first week, Nadal could face John Isner or Fabio Fognini in the last 16, with Alexander Zverev awaiting in the quarter-finals.

The German, who recently lost an epic US Open final, will begin against Dennis Novak, with Alex De Minaur awaiting Zverev in R3. While the pick of the first rounds in Jannik Sinner against David Goffin.

In the top half, Novak Djokovic will begin against Mikael Ymer as he is arguably the best player in the world right now.

Hubert Hurkacz and Karen Khachanov are likely to stand in his way en route to the quarter-finals.

Potential last eight matches include Matteo Berrettini, Jan Lennard Struff and Pablo Carreno Busta.

While Roberto Bautista Agut will face Richard Gasquet in the pick of the first round matches in the second quarter.

Finally in the second quarter Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas are on a quarter-final collision course with each other but face tough opening matches.

Medvedev takes on talented Hungarian Marton Fucsovics while Tsitsipas plays Jaume Munar.

Denis Shapovalov, Grigor Dimitrov and Andrey Rublev are among those lurking in the second quarter.

A tasty two weeks in Paris are set, with the main draw beginning on Sunday in the French capital.

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