LONDON (Reuters) – Since his junior days in Dunblane when he was rated a better prospect than his younger brother, Jamie Murray has pretty much lived in the shadow of Andy, until this year that is.
Now, aged 30, a career that was in danger of fizzling out just when Andy’s was on the rise, is flourishing and at the ATP World Tour Finals on Sunday he will take centre stage.
With Australian John Peers, Murray will kick off the elite season-ender at the O2 Arena against Italians Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli, having qualified as one of the best eight teams after reaching the finals of Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
World number two Andy will have to wait until Monday to make his bow when he takes on Spain’s David Ferrer in the singles. He is happy to cede top billing.
“Jamie has had an amazing year and I’m very proud of everything he’s achieved on the court,” said Murray, whose doubles partnership with his brother has been instrumental in Britain’s run to this month’s Davis Cup final.
“Someone said to me it’s the first time brothers have qualified for this event in singles and doubles, I don’t know if that’s true, but I imagine it’s pretty rare.
“I was hoping that we would have a session where he was playing doubles and I was in the singles, but we are on alternate days unfortunately.”
Jamie will always have bragging rights over Andy in one sense. He was the first to win a grand slam title, partnering Jelena Jankovic to the Wimbledon mixed doubles crown in 2007.
But then he managed only minor titles in five years before teaming up with Peers at the start of 2013 and returning to work with renowned doubles coach Louis Cayer.
His rise since has been spectacular and qualification for the Tour Finals is recognition for one of the best exponents of the doubles craft Britain has produced.
“That proved a good decision,” Jamie told Reuters. “I was struggling to win many matches before then but John and I trust each other’s abilities and it’s clicked and we’ve got good results at the biggest events.
“If people start to take notice of me that’s great,” Jamie added. “But I’ve never really been bothered about recognition. That’s not the be all and end all. I’m happy with how my career has been the last couple of years.
“Everyone grows up with the dream of being a singles player, getting in the top 100, that’s the main goal. But there aren’t many able to do that.”
But is he at all envious of the fame and fortune Andy enjoys since winning the London 2012 Olympics and 2013 Wimbledon?
“If I wasn’t happy with my life and I was really struggling, maybe it would be different,” he said.
“I have always been his biggest fan and I have always wanted the best for him and that will never change. I’m happy that Andy has made a great career and a great life for himself.”
Strangely, just when his own career is going so well Jamie is splitting with Peers to team up with Brazilian Bruno Soares.
It sounds risky in a discipline in which chemistry is vital.
“Three years is quite a long time and we both felt that maybe it has run its course,” Jamie said.
“Sometimes you need a new challenge and I’m looking forward to playing with Bruno next year. Shame it’s come to an end, but that’s life, you move on.”
(By Martyn Herman, Editing by Ed Osmond)