JONNY Marray has paid tribute to his brother for being a major influence on his tennis career.
The Wimbledon doubles champion begins his Australian Open campaign in the early hours of tomorrow morning in the heat of the Melbourne sun, but he says he always has brother Dave in his corner despite him being more than 10,000 miles away in Sheffield.
Marray junior, aged 32, said the support he’s had from his elder sibling has been valuable on his rise from the Challenger Tour to grand slam glory.
He told The Star: “I don’t know the amount of hours we played tennis together when we were younger, first at Abbeydale Tennis Club, then at Hallamshire and at the HSBC courts in Dore, but it must have been in the thousands. He’s always been there for me and it’s good to know that there’s someone that will always have your back no matter what.”
Older by two years, Dave held the upper hand on the tennis court until Jonny was 14. But the cool, calm demeanour that he showed on the way to winning Wimbledon last summer with Freddie Nielsen was on display even as a teenager.
He said: “Dave’s always worn his emotions a bit more open than me. The racket would get thrown around a bit if I was beating him!”
While neither would confirm, or deny, whether Jonny’s victories made Dave’s mind up to move into coaching - he’s now head coach at Hallamshire Tennis Club - there’s no doubt that he is proud of his younger brother. Although he admitted his frustration at not being with him in at the All England Club last year: “The first thing I thought when he was on his run was unprintable because I was in Spain with a group of kids from Hallamshire,” he said. “It was the first time I hadn’t been with Jonny at Wimbledon.
“When he got through to the quarter-final I thought he had a chance of going all the way. They were the underdogs in every match, but once they got on a roll there was no stopping them.
“I always thought he could compete with the top players, especially at doubles - it suits his game.
“It’s a big year for him on the World Tour but he’ll take it in his stride and concentrate on getting the ranking points rather worrying about anything else like how much money is at stake.”
Jonny, a former St Wilfrid’s school and All Saint school pupil, and new doubles partner Andre Sa of Brazil are seeded 16th for the Australian Open. It’s the first time Marray has been seeded in a grand slam. The pair will take on Slovakian duo Lukas Lacko and Igor Zelenay in the first round tomorrow.
They’re third onto court 13 at Melbourne Park.
Lacko lost an epic second round singles match against eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic in five sets (6-3 6-4 3-6 4-6 7-5) today (Wednesday).
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