On March 27th 2016 Jamie Murray became World No 1 doubles player, and the first British tennis player to achieve top ranking since the ATP computer rankings were introduced for doubles in 1976. He strengthened his position at Monte Carlo three weeks later
Jamie Murray had progressed with John Peers into several Slam event finals, and won six titles over the period 2012-2015, but switched partner to the Brazilian Bruno Suares shortly after the 2015 US Open last September. Almost immediately [in January 2015] they won the 2016 Australian Open together.
The Overlooked Murray
Jamie has been overlooked outside (and arguably inside) the tennis following community. Andy Murray has attracted headlines for a range of achievements and firsts for British Tennis (not English Tennis, as he felt required to point out in earlier years). First to break the drought in Grand Slam winners, and Olympic golds for GB, the driiving force on the team winning the Davis Cup in 2015, where again Jamie played an important part in the doubles victories with Andy.
But it was Jamie not Andy who was first to win a slam event, hardly mentioned any more. Why? Because it was in doubles (lower kudos than a singles win) and mixed doubles at that.
Now it is also Jamie who is first to become the Tennis World No One. as Andy contests for the Number two slot (but of course, again in the higher status Singles rankings).
Jamie probably prefers to stay more out of the limelight, but it would take a very unusual person not to have some hint of sibling rivalry from time to time.
Jamie’s strength has developed around lightening quick reflexes and net interceptions, and a few specialities which favour guile over power, including a chip forehand, a placed rather than a crunched volley, and a lob return of service. He still conceals a modest serve which sometimes lets him down.
Beating the Bryans
At 30 he is seven years younger than the Bryan twins who remain committed to returning to the top, and are experimenting with a switch of court positions to do so.
No false mask of confidence
Jamie sometimes cuts an anxious figure on court. He does not conceal tensions he feels. In so many sports, the top cat displays a mask of confidence and even invincibility.
Not Jamie, which is encouraging for the rest of us.
Image from Jamie’s wikipedia site.
More to come, as Brother Andy prepares to emulate Jamie and get to the final of the Monte Carlo tournament
I believed, like many others, that taking performance-enhancing drugs was a problem for a minority of people in a minority of sports. It is increasingly clear that I have been in a state of denial for many years
Like some hideous conspiracy project, the extent of the problem is revealing itself more and more.
“What do you think about [****] ?” Someone asked me yesterday. He was referring to one of the high-profile cases in a sport he knew I was interested in.
“Unfortunate” I said uneasily. “A career ruined”
“… and [****]?” He mentioned another sporting superstar whose name is a global brand.
“There have been accusations for some years” I admitted. “But some people are looking at exceptional performances as proof of drug-taking. ”
Within hours, another story broke
Three years ago we published a post about doping in tennis. The story re-emerged this week as Nadal says he intends to sue for remarks about his alleged drug taking.
The original post suggested that tennis may be in denial about the state of drug taking in the sport.
A colleague with legal experience suggested I leave the specific aspects of the post out of the more recent publication Tennis Matters.
This post will be updated as the story develops.
The story has shocked the tennis world. Maria Sharapova admits charges of taking performance enhancing-substances after failing a drugs test during the Australian Open
The superstar deals with the career-threatening blow with remarkable panache. This week [March 7 2016] a hastily-arranged press conference attracts a huge gathering of media journalists from beyond the world of tennis. A ‘significant announcement’ is promised.
It was assumed that Sharapova was going to announce her retirement after increasing effects of injuries. We didn’t see what was coming.
A contrite superstar fronts up
Looking upset but controlled, the superstar announces that she has continued taking taken a substance for medical purposes that was placed on the banned list as recently as January.
She accepts the error contravenes the WADA guidelines. However mistaken, she accepts her guilt, while hoping that mitigating circumstances will lessen her punishment.
An example must be made
The sports world splits into those calling for the most severe punishment possible (pour encourager les autres) and those accepting her mitigating circumstances includes her honest admission of guilt.
From a business perceptive, she behaved in the approved fashion and demonstrated leadership abilities rarely seen when a PR crisis blows up.
women in business, Maria Sharipova, Tennis, sports management, WADA, drug abuse, Olympic Games 2016, crisis handling, leadership the business magnate
Sharapova was world number one in tennis, and is proving a world-beater in her business ventures. At one stage, with injuries holding back her tennis, a story developed that she was considering changing her name to Maria Sugarpova. I leave readers to decide whether that was branding candy floss. In any case, the Sharapova brand is highly successful. In 2012 her on-court earnings at $5 million were dwarfed by her endorsements of $20 millions.
This is damage-limitation big time. Within days of her press conference, three of her lucrative sponsorship contracts were terminated.
She still receives support from her national sports organization in Russia, itself suffering serious allegations about institutionalized drug-taking. The intention is that Sharapova will be in the Russian tennis squad to compete in the Olympic Games in Brazil this summer.
Reckless beyond description
Dick Pound, the instigator of the bombshell of a report into drug testing recently, described Sharipova’s actions as reckless beyond description. Brilliant PR and communication skills sometimes are not enough to protect a train wreck from taking place.
Maria Sharipova and Maria Bartoli are among the stars of women’s tennis who have shown their entrepreneurial talents.
Now it’s Caroline Wozniaki’s turn, partnering with Belgian luxury chocolate firm Godiva
Tennis Matters is an account of the author’s obsession with tennis from his schooldays through his working career as a scientist and a Business School Professor. It documents his fruitless search for a respectable tennis forehand shot
Tennis Matters was published in E book format in August 2015. It is part biography, part based on tennis stories updated from over a thousand published in Leaders We Deserve over the period 2007-2015. It lists the mostly unsuccessful attempts of the author’s coaches to help him develop a workable forehand. It also includes Tennis Teasers (‘because they were the parts of my lectures the students liked most’).
“Hit past the baseline not into the net”
The story unfolds as the author recalls boyhood experiences: “My first coach was Tad the Geography master, a powerful bantamweight of a man, blessed with a natural tennis game, and in the classroom an unerring aim with a piece of chalk to gain the attention of an errant pupil. He did nothing to set me up with an educated forehand. But I do remember one piece of his advice. Better to hit the ball out past the baseline he insisted than into the net. I cannot say I have fully mastered the principles required for this tricky procedure”.
He watched his first films about the glamourous and exciting lives of tennis professionals: Hitchcock’s classic ‘Strangers on a Train’ and the lesser known ‘Pat and Mike’ starring Gussie Moran and Katherine Hepburn, noting the impact that Katherine Hepburn’s shorts and Moran’s frilly knickers were eventually to have on tennis fashion.
At the start of the 1960s, he recalls, the genteel ineptitude of tennis officialdom was still accepted. One match at Wimbledon ended in chaos when a line official nodded off and was unable to confirm that the match was over on a match point.
The modern era
Then came professionalization, and the modern era. The Australian Lew Hoad became to tennis what Stirling Moss was to racing, Bobby Charlton to football, and Arnold Palmer to Golf.
By the 1970s the great tennis tournaments were available to mass audiences. There were epic contests between two dominant figures of the era, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe. A similar series of breath-taking battles were to take place in the 1990s by battles between Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi.
Into the 21st century
As the 21st century approached, the young Roger Federer began to rewrite the record books. He was later to face intense competition from Novak Djokovic, and from the king of clay Rafa Nadal.
An era of America supremacy led by the iconic figures of Navratilova, King, McEnroe, Sampras and Agassi was coming to an end. Another golden age was emerging in which ‘the American (Bryan) brothers and (Williams) sisters were supreme and yet were not receiving the wider recognition they deserved’.
The author began recording his notes on every match played by Andy Murray, having watched him first as a junior playing on an outside court in a regional tournament. He discovers that changes in the game have not all been to his liking. He learns of the impact of branding as he miserably fails to trade up his 1970s racquet for a modern one. His forehand continues to frustrate the best efforts of various coaches, even one who had helped players such as Martina Navratilova.
Subsequent tales bring us to the highs and lows of today’s superstars, and the pratfalls of TV pundits.
The dream of a perfect forehand
The author remains optimistic. Drawing inspiration from the great orator Martin Luther King, he concludes that however modest the achievement, he still has a dream that one day he will play the perfect forehand.
Note to subscribers
Note the price is quoted currently at $3.99 or £1.99. It is a Kindle product, but you can download a free App via Amazon if you don’t have a Kindle.
When Great Britain defeated France in the quarter finals of the Davis Cup in July 2015, the media headlines extolled the brilliant series of victories by Andy Murray. The leadership qualities displayed by non-playing captain Leon Smith should also be acknowledged
The Davis Cup is the most prestigious of international tennis competitions. It is held annually on a knockout basis with divisions, the higher of which is the World group. GB has not won the cup since 1936, another unenviable statistic for British tennis. Even reaching the quarter finals in 2015 is regarded a success for the team and its outstanding player Andy Murray.
The match between Andy Murray and Andreas Seppi in the Wimbledon championship of 2015 was noted for two incidents each involving an injury break called by one of players
Saturday July 4th, 2015. Home favourite Andy Murray was scheduled to play Andreas Seppi. Murray seeded No 3 was expected to win against the lower ranked player. His previous record against Seppi was 5-1. For two sets, expectations of crowd and presumably players were more or less fulfilled. Murray cruises to a 6-2 6-2 advantage. After some lengthy rallies, Seppi looked increasingly fatigued…