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The Murray Mafia

Joshua Mason

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mafi murrays

 

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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Amelie Mauresmo Fears 2020 Season Is Over, But Becker Disagrees

Two former world No.1 disagree on what will happen to the sport this year, but what is the current stance of the governing bodies?

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Former world No.1 Amelie Mauresmo has said she is doubtful that there will be any more competitive tennis played this year due to the covid-19 pandemic.

 

Both the ATP and WTA tours are currently suspended until June 8th due to the deadly virus. According to the John Hopkins University there has been an estimated 800,000 cases of Coronavirus globally that has killed over 37,500 people. The disease is particularly dangerous to the elderly and those with pre-existing medical problems.

In light of the epidemic, it is likely that the Wimbledon Championships will be officially cancelled later this week following a series of emergency meetings. Making it the first time the grand slam has been scrapped in peace time. Wimbledon wasn’t played 10 times during the first and second World Wars. It is expected that a decision concerning a potential extension of the tour suspension will be made after the announcement.

Weighing in on the situation, two-time grand slam champion Mauresmo believes officials could be soon forced to cancel the entire season. Echoing similar comments that were previously made by Craig Tiley, who is the chief of Tennis Australia.

“I think that we are going to have to draw a line under the 2020 tennis season.” Said Mauresmo.
“The international circuit = male and female players of all nationalities including their coaching staff, spectators and people from all over the world who bring these events to life.
“No vaccine = no tennis,’ she added.

Due to the unpredictability of the epidemic, it is unclear as to when life around the world will return to normal. However, not everybody is thinking the worst when it comes to tennis this year. German legend Boris Becker has called for an end to what he describes as ‘doom and gloom.’

“We should stop with all this doom and gloom — of course tennis will be played this year,” he tweeted in a reply to an article concerning Mauresmo comments.

Looking beyond Wimbledon, two grand slam tournaments are still hoping to take place this season. The US Open is scheduled to get underway on August 24th in New York. Although the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, which hosts the tournament, has been turned into a 350-bed hospital to help New York cope with the Covid-19 outbreak. Meanwhile, the French Open is optimistically intending to play their event the week after the US Open concludes.

What are the governing bodies saying?

In regards to planning for the future of the tennis season, the women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has shed some light on their potential plans. In a statement sent to Reuters News Agency on Tuesday, they are pondering the possibility of extending the calendar beyond the first week of November. Allowing more tournaments to be played and therefore more players can earn money.

“The WTA is diligently working with our tournaments to maximize earning possibilities when the professional tennis circuit is able to resume and is considering an extension to the current 44-week season to enable more tournaments to take place,” the WTA statement reads.
“It is our sincere hope to return to the court as soon as possible – when the health and safety or our players, fans and staffs can be guaranteed, we will be back competing.”

It is likely the male equivalent, the ATP, is considering similar approaches. Although they have yet to publicly comment on their potential plans. ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi admitted on March 24th that it is unknown as to when the tour will be able to resume.

“This is bigger than any sport. The current situation raises many questions which we empathize with greatly, and we are working hard on evaluating all options.” He said.
“Our ability to address any supportive measures will be best guided once we know the duration of the crisis and when the Tour will resume, which remains unknown at this time.“

Finally, the International Tennis Federation is also pondering what their next move will be. The ITF is responsible for the Olympic tennis event, as well as both the Davis Cup and Fed Cup. Later this year Madrid, which has been severely hit by Covid-19 cases, is set to hold the 18-team Davis Cup Finals. Although ticket sales for the event has been halted with a release date yet to be confirmed.

“Due to the current global situation caused by the impact of Covid-19 it is yet to be determined when tickets for the 2020 Finals will go on sale.” Officials said in a statement obtained by the Guardian.

There are also questions concerning how future decisions will be made. The suspension of play saw a joint-statement from the ATP and WTA. A rare glimmer of unity in a sport split up by various governing bodies with their own interests. Although the head of the WTA, Steve Simon, insists that all the relevant bodies are working together on a regular basis.

“It’s very important right now for our sport to be working together. We are in contact on a daily basis with the ATP, as well as the ITF and grand slams. I think the sport is working very well together. There are obviously, when you go through these things, blips in the script.” Simon told The Tennis Channel.

Both the men’s and women’s rankings have been frozen until play resumes.

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WTA Sheds Light On Plans For Resumption Of Tour

There is a chance that tennis could be played in December under ideas being considered by the governing body of women’s tennis.

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Steve Simon, CEO of the WTA

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has confirmed that they are looking into the possibility of extending this year’s calendar due to the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

There have been no tournaments played on the tour since the last week of February. The suspension is currently scheduled to end on June 8th, however, it is looking likely that it will be extended in the coming weeks. The Wimbledon Championships is expected to be officially cancelled on Wednesday for the first time since 1945. Effectively ending hopes of there being a grass-court swing this year.

Due to the halt, many lower ranked players have been left in a tough financial situation with them being unable to earn any money. World No.371 Sofia Shapatava recently set up an online petition on change.org calling for support from the ITF, WTA and ATP. More than 1300 people have signed the petition.

“The WTA is diligently working with our tournaments to maximize earning possibilities when the professional tennis circuit is able to resume and is considering an extension to the current 44-week season to enable more tournaments to take place,” the WTA said in a statement issued to Reuters News Agency.
“It is our sincere hope to return to the court as soon as possible – when the health and safety or our players, fans and staffs can be guaranteed, we will be back competing.”

At present the 2020 WTA season is set to end during the first week of November with the prestigious end-of-season finals being played in the Chinese city of Shenzhen. Where there is $14 million in prize money available. Any extension to the tour will give players less time to prepare during the off-season ahead of the following year which always begins during the first week of January.

Regardless of what may happen, the WTA has admitted that they will not be able to financially support every player in a way they would have hoped. Explaining they can only reimburse players for how they perform on the court.

“We wish there was a way everyone, especially those in need the most, could be compensated at the level they were expecting, but the needs are so great and the WTA unfortunately is not in a financial position to do that,” the WTA said.
“Professional tennis players are independent contractors and not employees of the WTA. As a result, a player’s compensation is based on on-court competition and when tournaments are not held this puts a pause on their principal revenue flow.
“The WTA fully recognises the challenges these athletes are facing as well as those similar challenges being dealt with from millions of people around the world during this unprecedented situation.”

So far in 2020, four players on the WTA Tour have managed to earn more than $1 million in prize money. They are Sofia Kenin, Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep and Ash Barty. Overall, a total of 90 female players has won more than $100,000.

Disparity in prize money earnings in 2020 (as of March 9th)

1 – Sofia Kenin USA $3,012,043
50 – Marketa Vondrousova CZE – $139,164
100 – Harriet Dart GBR – $92,505
150 – Oceane Dodin FRA – $47,411
200 Kurumi Nara JPA – $28,469
250 – Oksana Kalashnikova GEO – $18,216
300 – Talaba Gabriela ROM – $8,240

Note: players are ranked based on 2020 earnings only

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Wimbledon Cancelled And Roland Garros Punished For Its Decision

German Tennis Federation vice-president Dirk Hordoff confirms Wimbledon will not take place in 2020. The decision by the FFT to postpone Paris will not stand: the other organizations are committed to fight. FFT’s president Giudicelli may have overplayed his hand

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A bombshell interview by French sports newspaper l’Equipe to the Vice-President of the German Tennis Federation Dirk Hordoff has released some new details about the discussions taking place behind the scenes among top tennis executive to try and sort out the chaos created by the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

According to Hordoff, the grass-court season will be a write-off in 2020, with all tournaments waiting for Wimbledon to announce the cancelation of the tournament next Wednesday to make their decision official. “It’s the only decision that makes sense,” said the German executive “it is possible to play on clay later in the year, but it is not possible to have tournaments on grass in October, you can’t play on grass when it is moist”.

But the juiciest bits of the interview described with an abundance of details the reactions to the French Federation’s decision to unilaterally postpone the Roland Garros to late September (20 September – 4 October) without waiting to reach a consensus among the ATP, the WTA and the other Grand Slam tournament. “This is not the French way of doing things, it’s Bernard Giudicelli’s way of doing things”, said Hordoff. The FFT President Giudicelli reportedly forced the decision upon the other tournaments, uploading the press release to announce the decision while he was on a conference call with other tennis executives. “I believe he panicked because of the elections coming up [in February 2021] and wanted to score some points on his opponent” reported Hordoff. His decision to also cancel the qualifying tournament was intended to be a “biscuit” for the ITF President David Haggerty, since it would make the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid in November even more financially attractive to all the players who did not have the opportunity to earn money with the Roland Garros qualifying tournament. “He hoped to have the ITF on his side, but now he is alone against the rest of the world,” said Hordoff, adding that the ATP is threatening to remove the ranking points assigned to Roland Garros for both 2020 and 2021.

One manager at the FFT allegedly told Hordoff: “This decision will be his Waterloo”, alluding to Giudicelli’s birth region of Corsica, the island in the Mediterranean that also was Napoleon’s birthplace.

The idea for the remainder of the season would be to have Roland Garros some time between September and October, depending on when it is possible to start playing again and have a short clay-court season before then. The situation in New York is quite dire at the moment, so the US Open is still a question mark for the time being, explained Hordoff. “But the most important thing right now is people’s health. I believe that until we have a vaccine or a cure it will be difficult to start again. Can you imagine all the people travelling from tournament to tournament, all the players, the fans, the coaches, the physios, the referees? There are more important things than tennis to think about”.

“Financially tennis will be all right – concluded Hordoff – I don’t see any of the Top 100 having problems to survive even without tennis. Of course, there may be some sponsors that will pull back their support to some tournaments, but tennis will survive. It will be different, but it will survive”.

Correction: In previous versions of the article, Dirk Hordoff was being identified as the President of the German Tennis Federation. His position has now been corrected.

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