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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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Kyle Edmund And Jack Sock Complete Laver Cup Line-Up

Kyle Edmund and Jack Sock complete the line-up for this year’s Laver Cup.

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Kyle Edmund (zimbio.com)

Kyle Edmund and Jack Sock have completed the line-up for the upcoming Laver Cup, which takes place in Chicago next month. 

The duo were the captain’s picks for both Team Europe and Team World as the Europeans look to defend the title that they won in Prague in the inaugural event last year. The captain of Team Europe, Bjorn Borg had this to say on Edmund, “I’m delighted to welcome Kyle to Team Europe as my final captain’s pick, Kyle is an outstanding young player who’s achieved some great results and big wins over top players. I’m also impressed with his meticulous and methodical approach to the sport and believe he will be a great fit with the team.”

Meanwhile Jack Sock seemed happy to compete in the competition again as he has been picked by John McEnroe, despite his poor singles form, “I can’t wait to play Laver Cup again, It was one of the highlights of the year for me and I’m so excited about playing here in the United States, at home, and in the great sports city of Chicago. The United Center is going to be loud, the crowds will be awesome, and it will be fantastic to have the home support.”

So here are the teams competing to win the Laver Cup in Chicago this year in what is looking like an entertaining weekend:

Team Europe                                                           Team World

Roger Federer                                                                Juan Martin Del Potro

Novak Djokovic                                                             Kevin Anderson

Alexander Zverev                                                          Diego Schwartzman

Grigor Dimitrov                                                             Nick Kyrgios

David Goffin                                                                   John Isner

Kyle Edmund                                                                 Jack Sock

The Laver Cup takes place on the 21st to the 23rd of September, with singles and doubles matches occurring throughout the weekend. The first team to reach 13 points wins the Laver Cup.

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Madrid To Become First Host Of Davis Cup Finals In 2019

Madrid will host the first Davis Cup Finals in 2019, with Lille and Indian Wells to host the next two years.

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Manolo Santana (zimbio.com)

Madrid will become the first host of the new Davis Cup in 2019 as an agreement was reached between the Spanish Federation and Kosmos. 

It was initially thought that Lille would get to host the week long tournament in November next year, with Madrid being tipped to host the competition in 2020. However it looks like Madrid has received the nod ahead of Lille as this was the main reason why the Spanish Federation voted for the new Davis Cup reforms in Orlando last Thursday.

The Madrid city council and representatives of Kosmos have been in long negotiations for the past months as it seems the Spanish city will host the tournament next November. The move means that next year they will host the Mutua Madrid Open on Clay in May and will host the Davis Cup Finals in November on hard courts. The possible venues suggested for the 18 team event next year includes the Caja Magica, where the Madrid Open is held, and the WiZink Center.

The tournament, which has the financial backing of Kosmos which is funded by Barcelona defender Gerard Pique, will have 18 teams competing in six round robin groups, 4 quarter-finals, 2 semi-finals and a final. It is expected that world number one Rafael Nadal will compete in the finals as he is one of the few players to back the reforms.

The finals will have 12 qualifiers, 2 wildcards as well as this year’s current semi-finalists, which are France, Spain, USA and Croatia. After Madrid, the venues for the next two years is set to be Lille and Indian Wells. The finals are expected to be controversial, with scheduling problems being the key problem as well as key stars such as Lucas Pouille and Alexander Zverev boycotting the event.

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Mouthwatering Clashes Beckon In First Round Of Qualifying At The US Open

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The draw for the qualifying tournament at the US Open was announced on Monday with a series of intriguing matches set to kick-start the tournament.

A total of 128 players in both the men’s and women’s draw will play for one of the 16 qualifying sports available in the main draw of the grand slam. For the first time in history, there will be more than $3 million in prize money in the qualifying tournament. Players who reach the main draw will be guaranteed at least $54,000 in prize money.

The men’s section will be headlined by Slovakia’s Jozef Kovalik. A player yet to win a main draw match at a grand slam. He faces a potentially tricky start against Ernesto Escobedo. Jurgen Zoopp and Ilya Ivanska complete the top three.

One of the most interesting seeded players is Hugo Dellien from Bolivia. The 25-year-old fourth seed broke into the world’s top 100 earlier this year, despite never playing in the main draw of an ATP World Tour event. Instead Dellien plays mainly on the Challenger tour, winning three titles on clay this year. Other notable seeds include Felix Auger-Aliassime (9), Ernests Gulbis (18)  and Ivo Karlovic (22).

An all-Australian clash awaits in the first round between Thanasi Kokkinakis and Bernard Tomic. Both men currently find themselves ranked outside of the world’s top 150 due to a combination of injury issues and disappointing results on the tour. In their head-to-head, Tomic leads 2-1. However, it will be the first meeting between the two on the tour since 2015.

There are only two British players in the men’s section this year and they will face each other in the first round. Jay Clarke will lock horns with Liam Broady. Clarke recently won his maiden Challenger title in Binghamton, USA and is currently at a ranking high of 174th in the world. Meanwhile, 24-year-old Broady is seeking a boost after what has been a roller coaster past few months. The British world No.239 hasn’t won three consecutive matches on the tour since reaching the second round of the Miami Open as a qualifier in March.

Other first round matches to watch out for include Elias Ymer (18) against Carlos Berlocq, Karlovic against Illya Marchenko, Jurgen Melzer against Kenny de Schepper and Auger-Aliassime against Tallon Griekspoor.


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Teenagers aim to shine in the women’s draw

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China’s SaiSai Zheng is hoping to continue her recent surge in form as the top seed in the women’s draw. Going into New York, the 24-year-old reached the final of the Nanchang Open followed by the semifinals in Washington. It was at the US Open where she made her grand slam debut back in 2014 and hasn’t missed playing in the main draw every year since.

Katie Boulter has never played in the main draw of a major outside of Wimbledon. She will hoping to end that run this week as the second seed. Boulter, who has won two ITF titles this season, opens up against compatriot Naomi Broady. Also lurking in her section is teenage sensation Marta Kostyuk, who reached the third round of the Australian Open at the age of 15.

Top five seeds
1. Zheng Saisai
2. Katie Boulter
3. Madison Brengle
4. Viktorija Golubic
5. Vitalia Diatchenko

Kostyuk belongs to a group of teenagers bidding to shine in the draw. 14-year-old Cori Gauff will take on tenth seed Heather Watson in what will be her first taste in playing in a professional grand slam. Gauff won the 2017 Girls US Open title. Olga Danilović, who is 17, is seeded sixth in the draw and is seeking to reach the main draw of a major for the first time. Russia’s Anastasia Potapova, who is the same age as Danilović, is seeded 25th.

At the other end of the spectrum is 39-year-old Patty Schnyder. The former world No.7 is attempting to play in a grand slam main draw for the first time since the 2011 French Open. Meanwhile, home favourite Bethanie Mattek-Sands is targeting her 16th appeared in the main draw at the US Open.

Notable first round matches in the women’s draw include Eugenie Bouchard (16) against compatriot Carol Zhao, Mona Barthel (8) against Lucie Hradecka and Madison Brengle (3) against Gabriella Taylor.


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