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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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Daniil Medvedev Aims To Get Back On Track After Kyrgios Defeat

The world No.1 says he wants to show his ‘best tennis’ in the coming weeks after crashing out of the Canadian Open.

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Daniil Medvedev - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Daniil Medvedev says he has gone through tougher moments in his career after losing his opening match at the Canadian Masters in Montreal. 

 

The 2021 champion led the in-form Nick Kyrgios by a set before falling 6-7(1), 6-4, 6-2, to the Australian. Making it the first time he has lost his opening match at a tournament since Geneva in May. Coming into this week Medvedev was gaining confidence after lifting the Los Cabos Open title but seemed to implode during the later stages of his most recent encounter on the Tour.

“I think it’s a little bit unfortunate for me because Nick right now, final of Wimbledon, winner in Washington. If he continues like this, he’s going to be top-15, top-10 player,” said Medvedev.
“For me the biggest difference was that I missed some important shots. I didn’t miss much, but missed just a few where I think it could be different, maybe in the later stage of a tournament. That’s a pity. At the same time, it’s like this.”

Perhaps the only consolation for the Russian is that many consider Kyrgios’ level of play to be well above what his ranking suggests. The Australian is currently ranked 37th in the world because this year’s Wimbledon didn’t award any points to players. A decision made by the ATP in response to the tournament’s decision to ban Russian and Belarussian players, including Medvedev, from participating. 

Medvedev enters a key time in the year where he will be trying to retain his US Open title, as well as maintain his position as world No.1. He will now return back to training ahead of traveling to America in the coming days where he is hoping for a rise in his form.

“For sure the next two, three days it’s not going to be easy coming back to practice knowing that everybody is still playing in Montreal, fighting for a thousand points, for a Masters winner title. It’s not easy.” He said.
“At the same time I had a lot of tough moments in my career. This is definitely not the toughest. I’m going to try to prepare well.”

The Cincinnati Masters will be the next test for Medvedev who won the tournament three years ago. He also reached the semi-finals last year before losing to Andrey Rublev.

“I hope to play well in Cincinnati. I hope to play well in the US Open. When I say ‘well’, it’s to try to be the winner. But there are a lot of guys like Nick, Carlos (Alcaraz), who can win.” He said.

Medvedev’s win-loss record for the season currently stands at 31-11. 

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Felix Auger-Aliassime Delights Home Crowd As Top Three Seeds Crash Out Of Montreal

The Montreal native made his return to IGA Stadium with a win over his Japanese opponent.

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Image via @OBNmontreal | Mina Panagiotakis

Felix Auger Aliassime won his second-round match in his return to the National Bank Open in Montreal by beating Yoshito Nishioka in straight sets 7-6, 6-4 in two hours and six minutes.

 

The Canadian served 17 aces and won 90% of his first serve points in the win to get his tournament started.

“There was a lot of excitement, people were talking about it and once I stepped on the court the energy was crazy,” said Auger-Aliassime. “To get the win that is the most important thing, and I’m super thrilled to win tonight”.

The first four games of the match went on serve and at 2-2 Nishioka had five chances to break and managed to break the Canadian serve to take a 3-2 lead but the world number nine broke right back the following game.

The opening set needed to be decided by a tiebreaker and it was the number six seed that jumped out to a 3-1 lead. Eventually up 6-3, he then had three chances to close out the set. However, Nishioka fought back by saving all three set points but at 7-6 the Montreal native pulled off the shot of the match. Playing a 20-shot rally and finishing with a stunning passing shot to win the first set.

Winning the first set motivated Auger Aliassime and with the crowd behind him, he had five chances to get the break in the opening game of the second set but was denied by Nishioka.

At 2-2, the Canadian earned three more chances to break and was able to get the crucial break of serve and was able to serve out the match to the delight of the home crowd.

After the match in his on-court interview, he was asked how much of a lift the home crowd gave him.

“I think it creates a lot of pressure on the opponent and it’s never easy to play in these conditions so I try to enjoy it because I am playing at home this week”. He replied.

A day of upsets in Montreal

It was a day for the history books as the top three seeds all crashed out of the tournament.

World number one Danil Medvedev lost a tight three-set match to Nick Krygios 6-7, 6-4, 6-2 who was coming off making the final in Washington the previous week.

Carlos Alcaraz didn’t look like himself as he was beaten also in three sets by the American Tommy Paul 6-7, 7-6, 6-3 in a match that lasted three hours and 20 minutes.

The number three seed Stefanos Tsitsipas didn’t fare any better as he was bounced out of the tournament by the British qualifier Jack Draper in straight sets 7-5, 7-6.

Daniel Evans kept the upsets going as he beat the number five seed Andrey Rublev in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, and Albert Ramos Vinolas beat the number 12 seed Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 6-2.

Taylor Fritz managed to rally down 4-0 in the third set to beat fellow American Frances Tiafoe to secure a 5-7, 6-1, 6-4, and Cameron Norrie beat the Dutchman Botic Van De Zandschulp 6-1, 6-2.

Gael Monfils beat the American Maxime Cressy in two tiebreakers 7-6, 7-6 in two hours and three minutes while Alex De Minaur beat the number 15 seed, Grigor Dimitrov, 7-6, 7-5.

Marin Cilic beat Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-2, Jannik Sinner beat the French qualifier Adrian Mannarino in three sets 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, Jenson Brooksby beat the Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5, 6-1.

Pablo Carreno Busta beat the Dane Holger Rune 6-0, 6-3 while the Norweigan Casper Ruud beat the Slovak Alex Molcan 7-6, 6-3 in one hour and 57 minutes.

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The Generation Inspired By Serena Williams

On Tuesday Williams revealed for the first time that she will begin to step away from the sport after a career lasting more than two decades. Throughout her career she has helped shaped the women’s game into what it is now.

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Image via https://twitter.com/WTA/status/1557532696972238856/photo/3

It is fair to say that the landscape of women’s tennis wouldn’t be what it is today if it wasn’t for Serena Williams and her sister Venus.

 

It was during October 1995 that Williams made her WTA debut as a 14-year-old who was thrashed 6-1, 6-1, in her opening match in the qualifying draw at the Quebec Open. As the years passed she went from being an unknown name to one of the most successful female athletes in the history of sport. An athlete can rarely evolve into an entire brand but Williams was one of the few who has managed to do so.

In 1999 she claimed her first of 23 Grand Slam titles at the US Open where she became the first Black woman to win a major tennis event in the Open Era. Before her, the last to do so was Althea Gibson 49 years earlier. Little did she know at the time that among those watching her rise on the Tour would be some who ended up being her rivals.

Her legacy is more than her being Serena. I started playing because of her. I’m sure there’s so many other girls that started playing because of her, so she literally built champions,” Naomi Osaka told HBO’s The Shop in 2021.

Osaka was one of the many players who managed to take on Williams on the Tour after growing up idolising her. They have played against each other five times with the most memorable clash occurring in the final of the 2018 US Open which was marred by controversy involving Williams and a run-in with the umpire.

“When she broke me in that one game and I had to try and save break points. I was like ‘What would Serena d– Oh, she’s right there.’ Oh wait, what am I doing?” Osaka revealed afterwards.

Williams, who turns 41 next month, was at one stage unbeatable in the sport due to her sheer power. At her highest she won 34 matches in a row during the 2013 season and spent a total of 319 weeks as world No.1. She has won 73 titles on the WTA Tour, including an Open Era record of 48 on hard courts alone.

“I’ve learned a lot from them [Serena and sister Venus]. People always tell me that you’re going to be next whatever blah blah blah and Serena has been considered the GOAT for at least the second half of her career and she never succumbed to that pressure,” America’s Coco Gauff told reporters in Toronto earlier this week.
“I think she overcame it and I think that’s something I take from her and try to learn from it. Not that I’m at her level and experiencing the same pressure she is, but in the moment I try to emulate that.
“For me, I grew up watching her. That’s the reason why I play tennis and tennis being a predominantly white sport it definitely helped a lot because I saw somebody who looked like me dominating the game and it made me believe I could dominate too.”

One of the most striking things about Williams is that her influence on the sport has been in various ways. She inspired many non-white players in her home country to take up tennis. Some argue that the all-African American final at the 2017 US Open between Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys was a product of the Williams sister’s effect. Others have been inspired by her ability to form a successful business portfolio outside of tennis, the fact she returned to the sport after becoming a mother or her stance on campaigning for equal rights. The bottom line is that Williams appeals to many people for various reasons which Keys once summarized.

“Venus and Serena Williams were both huge inspirations for me to play tennis. What they’ve done on court is incredible. What they do off court in business, helping other girls and championing for equal pay is also so inspiring. They motivate me to do and be my best,” Keys wrote on Twitter in 2019.

Emma Raducan recently praised the length of Williams’ career. Later this month she will play in her 81st Grand Slam main draw 24 years after making her debut at the 1998 Australian Open. There is almost a 21-year gap between her winning her first WTA title (February 1999) and her last (January 2020).

“It’s incredible her career. She has achieved so much,” Raducanu said. “And to see her around in this US swing is really inspiring. She keeps playing because she obviously loves the game.
“That longevity of a career is something that a lot of the players, me especially, aspire to achieve.”

As the likes of Osaka, Raducanu and others battle it out on the Tour, Williams has taken a backseat in recent months. In an eloquently written article for Vogue Magazine, she explains that the term retirement is a phrase she struggles to use. However, this will most likely be happening at this year’s US Open. She conceded it is time to move on and the desire to grow her family made competing as a professional athlete no longer feasible.

You know that at one point she’s going to retire. But when she actually is going to announce it, it’s just shocking. Because you think these kinds of players will play forever,” Bianca Andreescu commented.
“She’s not afraid to be herself and to show all her emotions on the court, off the court, what she stands for. I know she’s doing a lot of things off the court as well to help inspire. It’s incredible.’
“I hope that I can achieve maybe half of what she achieved and continue on her legacy in some way.”

Williams was once asked when she thinks about being referred to as the greatest female player of all time. She responded that she would rather be considered as “one of the greatest athletes of all time.” Perhaps her legacy in tennis has nothing to do with what she has won throughout her career. Instead, it is embedded in the generations of players who have been inspired by her.

At this week’s National Bank Open Williams bowed out of the tournament on Wednesday to Belinda Bencic in what was her final match at the tournament.

“I’ve always loved playing here. And, yeah, I wish I could have played better, but Belinda played so well today.” She said during her on-court interview.
“I’m terrible at good-byes. But good-bye, Toronto.”

As for what lies ahead, the American star will play a few more tournaments before saying goodbye to life as a tennis player for good.

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