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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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Home hope Ash Barty stays on course to win the Australian Open

Ash Barty has cruised into the second week at the Australian Open without dropping a set.

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World number one Ash Barty comfortably confirmed her place in week two of the Australian Open beating Camila Giorgi 6-2, 6-3.

 

In recent seasons, Barty had been weighted down by expectations on her home territory.

This was far from the case against Giorgi as Barty snuffed out any chance of an upset with a near fault-less performance.

Both players came out striking the ball well, but it was the top seed that broke first racing into a 2-0 lead.

Giorgi was landing some stunning groundstrokes, but this was not enough to stop Barty, who broke again at the end of the first set to clinch it 6-2.

The Australian held to love at the beginning of the second set as the Italian looked to find a way back into the match.

Barty began to find her groove and moved her opponent around the court with some sublime shot making.

The Italian kept things interesting but was eventually broken as the top seed took a 4-2 lead.

With the crowd behind her, Barty continued to hold serve, engineering three match points, but she only needed one.

After the match, Barty chatted to former champion Jim Courier and had this to say.

“Yeah, I thought tonight was really clean. I thought I looked after my service games really well. I did well to come out of a really tricky one at love-40 down. Overall, a pretty good performance I think,” she said.

The home favourite also praised Giorgi’s performance.

“Yeah, I thought I was out of my weight class, that’s for sure. The way she hits the ball and can control the centre of the court is incredible.

“It was my job to get her off that baseline, whether it was short, or it was deep, or it was out of her strike zone.

“It’s tough when you’re up against the wind but I think I was able to use my slice effectively,” she said.

A much tougher test awaits the Aussie in American star Amanda Anisimova, as the 20-year-old stunned four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka in three sets.

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Amanda Anisimova Knocks Out Naomi Osaka In Australian Open Thriller To Reach Last 16

Amanda Anisimova is into the last 16 of the Australian Open with a thrilling win over defending champion Naomi Osaka.

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Amanda Anisimova continues her unbeaten start to the season by knocking out defending champion Naomi Osaka 4-6 6-3 7-6(10-5) in a classic match at the Australian Open.

 

The American hit brutal shots and powered past the Osaka defence to knock out the defending champion in a classic match.

Osaka had two match points but ultimately couldn’t be aggressive enough in the big points to outmanoeuvre Anisimova.

Next for Anisimova is world number one Ash Barty in the fourth round on Sunday.

It was a tentative start from Anisimova as the American hit a couple of double faults and failed to establish early control.

The defending champion took advantage to break in the opening game and her defensive game was causing trouble to Anisimova’s power game.

Osaka threatened with the double break but Anisimova found her stride in the crucial moments to fend off break points.

In the middle of the opening set, Anisimova started to anticipate Osaka’s serve better and created her first break point of the match.

However Osaka remained firm and with good angles and devastating power managed to hold serve to take the opening set 6-4.

In the second set both players had to produce their bold patterns of play on big points to resist opposition pressure.

Despite Osaka’s great returning ability, Anisimova managed to fend off the Osaka power and turn defence into attack.

For all of the American’s attack it was her variety that earned her the break as a drop shot slice sealed the break for 3-1.

From then on Anisimova controlled the tempo of the second set and produced big serving as the American took the second set 6-3 to level the match at one set all.

The final set saw both players bring their best tennis at the same time as both players had early opportunities to break.

Neither converted although it was Osaka who always looked the more dangerous with her angles and different heights causing Anisimova problems.

Towards the tail end of the set, Osaka had two match points to seal the victory but Anisimova’s brutal power saw her hold for 5-5.

In the end a tiebreak would settle this thrilling contest and it was Anisimova who raced to an early lead and never looked back as she clinched one of the best wins of her career.

After the match Anisimova admitted she was speechless, “I’m speechless. I can’t stop smiling. I’m just laughing. I absolutely love this,” the American said in her on-court interview.

“Going into this match I knew I had to be playing sharp if I wanted to give myself a chance. She is an absolute champion so I knew I would have to step up my game and be aggressive.

“I’m honestly so grateful that I was able to play so well today and get this win. It means a lot. Every single day here is an amazing opportunity. I’m just thinking about having fun and I’m looking forward to my next round.”

A history-making win for Anisimova who will play world number one Ash Barty for a spot in the quarter-finals.

As for Naomi Osaka she will look to recover in time for March when she plays Indian Wells and Miami.

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After Djokovic’s Departure, Miomir Kecmanović Gives Serbia A Reason To Celebrate At Australian Open

In the absence of the European nations best player, another has filled in the void by producing their best ever run at a Grand Slam tournament to date.

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Miomir Kecmanović never expected to go beyond the first round of this year’s Australian Open, let alone be a win away from reaching the quarter-final.

 

The 22-year-old was initially drawn to play compatriot and world No.1 Novak Djokovic in his opening match. A superstar in their home country who is regarded as the greatest tennis player of all time by many. However, Djokovic’s subsequent deportation from Australia by the government opened the draw for Kecmanović who was yet to win back-to-back main draw matches at a major.

Previously saying that he was motivated to do well by the way his Davis Cup team mate has been treated by the authorities, he eased past lucky loser Salvatore Caruso before ousting America’s Tommy Paul in three close sets. Taking to the court on Friday to play in his maiden Grand Slam third round match, Kecmanović continued his fairytale run with a 6-4, 6-7(8), 6-2, 7-5, win over 25th seed Lorenzo Sonego.

“A week ago I was supposed to play the world No. 1 and didn’t have much of a chance there, but now I’m in the last 16, so I’m happy that I was able to use this chance and that I’ve been playing some really good tennis,” he said following his latest win.

Kecmanović was once tipped as a future star of the men’s game after reaching world No.1 on the junior circuit. He has also shown glimmers of his talent on the pro Tour by winning the 2020 Kitzbuhel Open and reaching the semifinals of the Buenos Aires Open last year. However, consistency is an issue for the Serb who had lost 14 out of his past 15 matches against top 30 players on the Tour prior to this week.

“I didn’t have much pressure just because I felt that I got a second chance, so I just wanted to use it the best that I can. I’ve obviously been showing that well up until now.” He said of his run in Melbourne Park.

Next up will be his toughest test yet in terms of both ranking and experience. Gael Monfils is a veteran of the men’s Tour who is playing in his 58th Grand Slam main draw compared to Kecmanović who is playing in his 12th. The Frenchman has breezed through his first three matches and is yet to drop a set.

Although this doesn’t faze the underdog who took Monfils to three sets before losing in their only previous meeting at the Paris Masters last November. He is mentored on the Tour by David Nalbandian, who was a formidable player himself during his playing days. Coincidentally the Argentine played Monfils twice in a Grand Slam main draw.

“I’ve come this far, I don’t see why I should stop now? Monfils is a showman, I expect a lot of good shots from him, running and defense, it won’t be easy. I will look to be aggressive when there is a chance,” Kecmanović concluded in Serbian.

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