MELBOURNE, Australia—Being the brother or sister of a famous face is never an easy pill to swallow. But there were a few lesser-known faces Down Under who strived to make names for themselves.
The Australian Open treated two sets of siblings pretty well. Andy and Jamie Murray became the first brothers to reach finals at the same Grand Slam. Sara Tomic had a great run, but ultimately failed to match brother Bernard’s Junior Australian Open title.
Late this past Saturday night, Jamie Murray was playing his third Grand Slam doubles final, having lost the first two last year with Australian John Peers. With Bruno Soares by his side, Jamie Murray reversed his luck to win his first doubles Grand Slam, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, over Daniel Nestor and Radek Stepanek. The Scot also has a mixed doubles title; he won Wimbledon with Jelena Jankovic back in 2007.
Though he’s mostly been known as “The Brother of Andy Murray,” the elder Murray has risen up the doubles ranks over the past few years, reaching No. 7 by the end of 2015. But don’t expect to see Andy Murray in his player’s box.
“I haven't watched any of [Jamie’s] matches here,” Andy Murray said. “I try not to watch. I find it pretty stressful to watch, so I won't watch the match.”
Andy Murray had a shot to make the brothers the first to win the same Grand Slam, but he lost to Novak Djokovic in the singles final.
He did make a sudden appearance just in time for Jamie Murray’s emotional trophy-acceptance speech.
“Andy, you should be in bed,” Jamie Murray said on court, shocked to see his brother. “[I] don’t know why you’re here taking photos.”
But the truth is that Andy has pushed Jamie to improve his work ethic, and he’s certainly responsible for some of his success.
“It encourages you,” Jamie Murray said. “It inspires you when you see what he’s doing on court, all the amazing things he’s been doing for the last 10 years. And you see how hard he works to get the results that he has had. He kind of told me to get a shift on and put in the time, as well. Do what was necessary to get the best results for your career.”
Jamie Murray has now risen to world No. 2. He could potentially be the first Murray to reach No. 1.
“I guess the race is on,” Jamie Murray said.
Bernard Tomic is also helping to motivate his sibling. He won the Junior Australian Open when he was just 15, and followed it with a Junior U.S. Open trophy the next year. Sara Tomic was chasing history here. The last time a brother and sister won the Junior Australian Open was in 1956 and 1960 (Lorraine and Will Coghlan).
“I've been watching [Sara],” Bernard Tomic, who lost to Andy Murray in the fourth round, said after Sara’s third-round win. ”I've been very pleased with what she's doing … I mean, at least someone won today.”
The world No. 20 missed Sara’s next few matches because he had to leave for another tournament.
“If I can send her a message, I mean, I'll tell her that later,” Bernard Tomic said. “But this is all where it started for me, in the juniors when I was 15. I think she has to use it as an opportunity and just play, and she can do well. Who knows, maybe get to the semifinal or final? That would be good.”
Sara Tomic, who had to qualify to get into the major, ended up getting to the semifinal before falling to eventual champion Vera Lapko, 6-2, 6-3. Sara Tomic’s best major performance before this week was the third round.
“[Bernard] helps me a lot,” Sara Tomic said after her semifinal loss. “[He] sent me a message, saying, ‘Good luck’ this morning. So it’s really good to have him. It’s really nice to have that person there. Yes, I’m going by as ‘the sister of,’ but hopefully in a few years I’ll be my own person.”
Being “The Sister of Bernard Tomic” also includes a lot of Nintendo battles.
“I play Pokemon with my brother,” she said, explaining that he bought a Nintendo for them to play together. “I beat him last time in Pokemon.”
The 17-year-old’s Pokemon wins hopefully translate to more pro wins. She’s ranked No. 460 after winning her first International Tennis Federation Pro Circuit $10,000 title last year, and her goal is to end up in the Top 200 this season.
Someone ranked a couple of spots above her knows a thing or two about having siblings who are “The Brothers of Novak Djokovic.”
“Obviously, with lots of success that I had throughout all my career— basically juniors and then [the] professional circuit, that added extra pressure on them and expectations,” Novak Djokovic said. “It was very difficult for them to handle such expectations."
Marko Djokovic, 24, reached as high as No. 581, but he’s left the game. Djordje, 20, is ranked No. 577 and is still trucking away on the ITF Pro Circuit.
Twins Bob and Mike Bryan are the most famous brothers on tour, and the most successful with 16 Grand Slam doubles titles. The difference, of course, is that they play together. There are twins on the women’s side too: No. 13-ranked Karolina Pliskova’s twin sister, Kristyna, is ranked nearly 100 spots below her.
And then there are Venus and Serena Williams, the greatest family act in tennis history. Serena Williams emerged from her big sister’s shadow quickly, becoming the first of the two to win a major title back in 1999. Andy Murray never really had a shadow since Jamie has been a doubles specialist from the start, but having each other has influenced both their careers. Who knows how good Serena would have ended up if Venus was never around?
For now, “The Brother of Andy Murray” has a Grand Slam title, just one shy of his more famous younger brother. Only time will tell how the story plays out for the Tomics.