Bag Check: What's Jamie Murray toting around?
In men’s doubles, 2018 has had its share of surprises: From Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic’s unbeaten start to the year to Jack Sock and Mike Bryan’s Wimbledon triumph, the year has been somewhat unpredictable.
Over the past few weeks, Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares have done their best to bring some consistency as they’re peaking right in time for the US Open.
The Scottish-Brazilian duo has been on a tear of late, winning two tournaments during the summer hard-court swing, including their first ATP Masters 1000 title together in Cincinnati. They’ve won three titles overall this year, having defended their crowns/sombreros in Acapulco earlier in the season.
Since they started playing together in 2016, they’ve been at their best on hard courts. In their first tournament together, Soares and Murray took the title in Sydney, Australia, and then followed that up with a triumph at the Australian Open, the first men’s doubles major for both of them.
It was quick validation to a decision Murray made in the months prior regarding his career.
In 2015, Murray reached the championship round at Wimbledon and the US Open with John Peers, and the duo qualified for the ATP Finals—all of which was uncharted territory for the doubles specialist. However, believing that he needed to take his game a step further, he sought a new partner and decided to team up with the veteran Soares, who’d had prior success with such players as Alexander Peya and Kevin Ullyett.
After its Australian Open victory, the team didn’t win another title for months until they reached New York for the year’s final major. There, they battled through the field to take their second Grand Slam, and they would go on to clinch the top spot in the year-end rankings.
2017 brought more consistent results, with three titles, but they failed to defend their major crowns. Murray and Soares won two consecutive grass-court tournaments, but at Wimbledon found themselves on the outside looking in as the equally dominant team on the turf, Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo, took the title.
After the grass, Murray and Soares didn’t win another tournament for the rest of the season, but they posted some solid results throughout, including a deep run at the US Open and another appearance at the ATP Finals. And the year wasn’t a total wash for Murray on the majors front as he captured the mixed doubles crowns at Wimbledon and the US Open with the recently retired Martina Hingis.
Their Acapulco title this year ended a months-long title drought, an experience they would go through again before emerging as champions in Washington a few weeks ago, when they beat Bryan and Edouard Roger-Vasselin in the final. After Canada, they came through in Cincinnati, defeating Australian Open finalists Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 10-8 in a match tiebreak.
Murray and Soares’ games complement each other perfectly: Murray plays a more traditional seize-the-net style, while Soares is steadier from the baseline and on his returns. Each of them have incorporated some of the other’s strengths into their own games and combined with their penchant for pulling off unthinkable shots, they make a formidable pair.
Their preparation for the year’s final major has been near-perfect. Will it be enough to carry them to a third Grand Slam together? They’ll be going for their 10th title as a team: Hitting double digits in New York, where they’ve succeeded before, would only make the occasion more memorable—and also bring about a measure of stability to the tour this year.
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