Britain’s strength in depth in doubles highlights quality of structure

Kevin Palmer
Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram

British tennis may be wondering who can replace Andy Murray as their shining light, but they have a very different story to tell in the doubles arena.

The entry list for this month’s Australian Open featured a record number of British entrants in a men’s doubles draw dating back to the inception of the event, way back to 1905.

The number of British entrants in the event also represents the most number of Direct Acceptances into the draw (without wildcards) by any nation, followed by the USA and France with eight players each.

The record reflects a step-change in British men’s doubles performance and rankings over the last decade as back in 2010, there was only one British player in the world’s top 62 (at No.50), compared to seven at the end of 2020, including three within the top 30.

“This number of players we have competing in this year’s Australian Open doubles draw is a testament to the hard work that Louis Cayer and the rest of our Performance team put into supporting these players over a number of years as part of a consistent approach,” said Leon Smith, LTA Head of Men’s Tennis, said.

“Doubles continues to be a key part of the recreational game and we are proud to have a world-leading doubles programme, one which the LTA continues to invest in under the leadership of Scott Lloyd as part of our long-term performance strategy.

“There are two tangible benefits to this, in that it exposes more coaches to the highest levels of the game and secondly, Grand Slam success over the last decade from players like Johnny Marray, Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury will help inspire others to achieve their dreams on the singles or the doubles court.”

Louis Cayer, LTA Senior Performance Coach, said: “The LTA has been very innovative in supporting and nurturing doubles success over the last 14 years since I came on board. We started a ‘British Doubles System’ based on positioning, creating uncertainty through movement and shot selection that has become world-leading amongst our peers.

“This system allows every British player to step on court, partner with each other and continually adapt to trends in the sport, enhancing the development of our coaches and encouraging success at the highest levels. We are proud to have achieved this milestone for doubles at the Australian Open and will look to keep pushing our limits.”

Britain’s Joe Salisbury and American partner Rajeev Ram missed out on defending their men’s doubles title as they lost to Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek in the Australian Open final last weekend, with strong performances from semi-finalist Jamie Murray after he was reunited with partner Bruno Soares.

In the Australian Open women’s doubles, Heather Watson was paired with Canada’s Leylah Fernandez, while Alfie Hewett partners Gordon Reid won the men’s wheelchair doubles.

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