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The Murray Mafia

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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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Lleyton Hewitt Admits Pride After Australia Reach First Davis Cup Final For 19 Years

Lleyton Hewitt admitted he is proud after Australia reached their first Davis Cup final since 2003.

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Lleyton Hewitt (@CopaDavis - Twitter)

Lleyton Hewitt admitted he was proud of his Australian Davis Cup Team after they reached their first Davis Cup final for 19 years.

 

Australia reached their first Davis Cup final for 19 years after defeating Croatia 2-1.

After singles wins for Borna Coric and Alex De Minaur it was Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson who pulled off the upset over Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic to seal victory for Australia.

The Aussie pairing were victorious in a 6-7(3) 7-5 6-4 victory as they sealed Australia’s place in the Davis Cup final for the first time since 2003.

It’s a proud moment for captain Lleyton Hewitt, who will be competing in his fourth Davis Cup final but a first as captain, “I just couldn’t be prouder of these guys and the heart and the passion and the pride that they are playing with out there,” Hewitt told Tennis Australia’s website.

“It’s great. Obviously Australia has a really rich history in this competition, and we have been fortunate enough to win it on a lot of occasions, back a long time ago.

“I know how much it meant for me as a player to get the opportunity to play in finals. So I’m thrilled that these boys get that opportunity on Sunday.”

Sunday will be Australia’s 48th Davis Cup final as they seek to win a 29th Davis Cup title.

The last time Australia competed in a Davis Cup final was back in 2003 in front of a full house at the Rod Laver Arena where Hewitt was influential in a 3-1 victory over Spain.

Although Hewitt admitted it would be nicer to play the final in Melbourne, the Australian captain said that winning the title would mean a lot, “I’d love it to be in Australia,” Hewitt said.

“I’m disappointed the boys don’t get to play in front of 15,000 at Rod Laver Arena. It would be very satisfying and especially if you do it with a lot of my good mates around in the coaching staff as well, it would mean a lot.”

The final will take place on Sunday with Australia facing the winner of the second semi-final between Italy and Canada.

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Seven-Time Major Champion Names Carlos Alcaraz ‘Most Inspirational’ Player In Men’s Tennis 

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Image via US Open Twitter

Carlos Alcaraz shouldn’t be compared to the prestigious Big Three but there is one thing that sets him apart, according to tennis great Mats Wilander. 

 

19-year-old Alcaraz has burst onto the scene during a season where he has finished as the youngest-ever year-end No.1 in ATP history. Within the past 12 months, he has won two ATP 500 titles and two Masters 1000 tournaments. Then at the US Open, he claimed his first Grand Slam title after defeating Norway’s Casper Ruud in the final. Overall, he has won 57 out of 70 matches played in 2022, scoring nine wins over top-10 opposition.

Alcaraz’s rapid rise has generated a surge in praise towards him, as well as a comparison to the three heavyweights of men’s tennis. Especially compatriot Rafael Nadal who he idolized growing up. 

“He doesn’t have to be considered the greatest player, but one thing is for sure: it is fun as hell to watch him play tennis when he’s that good and he’s laughing at the same time,” Wilander said of Alcaraz during an interview with Eurosport.
“He’s the most inspirational tennis player that we have because of what he did in 2022 and most of all because of the way he did it.
“Never compare him to Rafa, Roger and Novak, the way he did it I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Unfortunately for Alcaraz his fairytale year didn’t have a happy ending after an abdominal injury forced him to miss the prestigious ATP Finals which Novak Djokovic won for a record-equalling sixth time without losing a match.

Wilander believes the most crucial thing for the world No.1 now is learning to adapt to his new status as a top player in the men’s game. It was only at the start of last year when Alcaraz played in the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time. 19 months ago he was yet to crack the top 100. 

“I think it will be really hard to digest 2022 for Alcaraz,” he commented. “But I also think [coach] Juan Carlos Ferrero is going to know exactly what they need to do.
“I think that there’s a validation process that has to happen for Carlos. ‘Am I really No. 1 in the world?’ That was an unbelievable year. But hold on. There’s Holger Rune. There’s Djokovic. There is Daniil Medvedev.
“I mean, ‘what you’re putting me as No. 1 as a 19-year-old?’. So I think there’s going to be a bit of doubt there, and I think that you have to take care of that doubt by working really hard physically and mentally and really finding how he needs to play tennis when he is not feeling good.”

Warning sent to another rising star

Besides Alcaraz, Danish tennis sensation Holger Rune has also caught the attention of many on the Tour following his shock run to the Paris Masters title where he scored five consecutive wins over top-10 players. Now at a ranking high of No.11, the 19-year-old recently said during an interview with TV2 Sport that he believes reaching No.1 by the end of 2023 is a realistic goal. 

However, Wilander believes Rune’s big aspirations for the new season could potentially be counterproductive if things don’t go his way.  

“Rune said he’s going to be No. 1 in the world and this might generate disappointment, if it does not happen right away,” he said.
“Imagine if Casper [Ruud] would have gone out and said that last year. Then had this year where he made three finals. People would say ‘whoa, yeah, he can never, ever win a big tournament. There’s no chance, he’s lost three finals in one year.’
“So my first reaction would be to say it’s wrong and it’s dangerous [to say you will be No. 1], but if it motivates you as a player, then go ahead.”

As for improvements, the Swede believes Rune needs to work on how he conducts himself on the court. He can be at times very animated on the court which is a characteristic many players his age also have. 

“He must probably have to clean up his body language slightly on court, which he will, because he’s only 19 and he’s an unbelievably quick learner, for sure,” he continued.
“I think it will help his tennis to be a little bit more settled and maybe neutral in terms of showing good vibes and bad vibes because other guys are going to start picking up on it and there’s going to be people in the crowd that some people are going to say ‘whoa, this is a bit unusual in a way’. But at the same time, the fight that he puts up is incredible. So we don’t really know.”

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Rafael Nadal’s Words Of Encouragement To Argentina After World Cup Shocker

The former world No.1 spoke to reporters before taking to the court to play a singles and mixed doubles match at an exhibition event held at the Parque Roca stadium in Buenos Aires. 

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Nadal RG 2022 by Night (foto @RolandGarros)

Battling against the odds is something Rafael Nadal knows a lot about as he backs the Argentine football team to bounce back following their shock loss at the World Cup earlier this week. 

 

Nadal had been in Buenos Aires this week where he played an exhibition match against Casper Ruud on Wednesday evening. Although the main spotting topic in the nation is their country’s unexpected 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia. Argentina entered the World Cup on a 36-match unbeaten run and hadn’t been beaten by a country since Brazil in 2019. 

Quizzed by reporters about his reaction to that match, Nadal believes the South American team have no reason to lose confidence due to the blip and they still can go far in the tournament. Argentina is bidding to win the trophy for the third time in history and their first since 1986. 

“I’m not one for extremes, neither too much euphoria nor too much catastrophe,” Reuters news agency quoted Nadal as saying.
“The world hasn’t changed… They simply lost a game and there are two to go. The least they deserve is confidence and respect.
“They come from being champions of America, from having one of the best winning streaks in history, so why lose confidence? I still think Argentina is a clear candidate to go far.”

Nadal also paid tribute to football superstar Lionel Messi who played in the Spanish LaLiga for FC Barcelona between 2004-2021. The same team his uncle, Miguel Ángel Nadal, played for during the 1990s. 

“Messi took things away from Real (Madrid) for years but in the end, as a sports lover, you appreciate someone so special,” he commented. “In LaLiga we’ve been lucky enough to enjoy him in the best years of his sporting career.
“He has given us special moments in the world of sport, he’s one of the top players in the history of football and sport”.

Argentine will next play Mexico on Saturday at the World Cup. 

Sabatini features In Parque Roca exhibition 

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On the court, Nadal prevailed in his exhibition match against ATP Finals runner-up Ruud, winning 7-6(8), 6-2. Both players were greeted by cheers from onlookers in the crowd but La Nacion newspaper said the venue wasn’t completely sold out. Something they attribute to the World Cup and high ticket prices for the event. 

“I am happy to have been able to share these moments with the Argentine public, who are very passionate and knowledgeable about the sport. They have always treated me in the best possible way and I get an injection of positive energy,” Nadal said on court.

Nadal and Ruud also took part in a doubles match which involved two former heavyweights of Argentine women’s tennis – 1990 US Open champion Gabriela Sabatini and former world No.1 doubles player Gisela Dulko. 

Sabatini, who was partnering with Nadal in the one-set match, had not played an exhibition event in her home country since 2009. The duo won the showdown 6-4. 

“Having the opportunity to play with Casper, who is a great player, number 3 in the world, a good friend and an excellent person…, and also playing with Gisela and Gaby, two leaders of Argentine and Latin tennis in the last 20 years, it was a pleasure.” The 22-time Grand Slam champion concluded. 

Buenos Aires is the first of six exhibition events Nadal will play across South America during the off-season. 

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