Andy Murray is easily our most high profile tennis players of recent years. His achievements have rightly been lauded, his Grand Slam wins celebrated. The fact he ascended in 2016 to be the world’s No 1 in the rankings (even though the rankings are a nonsense, as I have previously discussed) was rightly acknowledged as a huge achievement.
It’s been great to see him do so well and be one of the world greats of this era, especially as he’s not the most successful tennis player in his family and perhaps not even the best player in his family.
That’s right. And I think the stats prove it.
Jamie Murray, Andy’s elder brother is far more successful and yet he is never recognised as the better player and always stands in his shadow. This puzzles me. Andy has won three Grand Slams in singles but Jamie has won six Grand Slam titles: in mixed doubles at the 2007 Wimbledon Championships, with Jelena Janković, the 2017 Wimbledon Championships and 2017 US Open, with Martina Hingis, and the 2018 US Open, with Bethanie Mattek-Sands, and in men’s doubles the 2016 Australian Open and 2016 US Open with Bruno Soares.
That’s 100% more Grand Slam wins. He has also been the top ranked doubles player, so Andy doesn’t best him that regard either. Anyway you want to cut it, Jamie beats Andy.
So why isn’t Jamie Murray at least as vaunted as Andy? The answer must be because for some reason doubles players are not thought as good or at least their achievements are not seen as stellar. Certainly doubles matches at major tournaments do seem less high profile and yet it isn’t like they’re a rare thing or obscure in any way whatsoever.
And yet at Wimbledon for example, the doubles games are always played late in the day. They’re not on Centre Court at noon, so clearly they’re not top of the organiser’s list. Why not? Does four players dilute the excitement? Is four less of a battle than two?
But why should that be? It doesn’t make any sense really. Actually, I’ve always thought doubles is harder to play and thus to be the world’s best doubles player is an even greater achievement.
Doubles requires fantastic teamwork so that you can co-ordinate who plays which ball. It is a real discipline to learn. You must also be great at playing close to the net and thus have a controlled and accurate volley in your armoury, but on top of that you will also need a tremendous baseline game too. This is in contrast to singles play, which is often largely a baseline power game. In other words, you absolutely must have a bigger palette to paint from in order to be the best at doubles. So why is this not recognised by doubles having at least the same degree of profile?
Perhaps there is some general feeling that if you win a game alongside someone else then it is half the achievement of a singles player who has had to hit every ball. Maybe that is why doubles specialists are in the shadow of singles. But that is to simply misunderstand or under appreciate what it takes to be any good at the game.
But when you’ve won twice the amount of Grand Slams as your brother and get maybe less than half the amount of praise and profile, it must stick in your craw. Andy Murray is a wonderful player, but Jamie Murray has won far more, so we simply must rate him more highly, because doubles isn’t easier than singles, and I don’t see why that might be thought of as even remotely controversial.
Follow John Nicholson on Twitter @JohnnyTheNic
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