JONNY Marray says he is living his dream as he prepares for the Australian Open, the first grand slam of the season.
Speaking to The Star from Melbourne the 32-year-old from Sheffield revealed that his Wimbledon victory last year, with then playing partner Freddie Nielsen, fulfilled the reason he began playing tennis when he was aged 10.
“That was the dream,” he said. “To win at Wimbledon was why I wanted to play and keep on playing.”
Whatever Marray does in the future his career is likely to be defined by that victory at the All England Club.
However, despite a laid-back demeanour, Marray is fiercely determined to make the most of what that success now allows him to do on the ATP World Tour.
With a new playing partner, Brazil’s Andre Sa, Marray will be seeded for the first time at a Grand Slam when the Australian Open gets underway today. Invites from all the other major tournaments around the world are also in the post such is his lofty world doubles ranking.
He said: “I can play in any tournament I want as long as my partner is high enough ranked. It’s about making sure I get enough ranking points throughout the season so I can stay at this level.
“The ATP 250 (250 ranking points go to the winners) events used to be the high spot when I played on the Challenger Tour but now they’ll be the lowest level of the year. I’ll be wanting to peak for the 500 tournaments, the Masters Series (1,000 points) and the Grand Slams (2,000 points).”
With more than $7,500 awarded to losing teams in the first round of the Indian Wells Masters Series tournament in America last year ($241,000 went to the winners) it is a far cry from the 600 Euros that Marray used to try and receive for winning a Challenger title.
“I know what prize money is available,” he said with a laugh, “but the ranking points are the most important thing.
“There’s some really good players out there on the tour - there is on the Challenger Tour too - so you can’t do anything but look ahead to your next match.
“I’m looking forward to playing with Andre. He’s a really solid returner and we’ve played well together before.”
The pair’s first round opponents are Slovakian duo Lukas Lacko and Igor Zelenay.
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