‘Bruno, birthday BBQ & Andy’s return’

April 23, 2021
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    Jamie Murray BBC Sport Columnist graphic

    2021 Australian Open
    Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 8-21 February
    Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and online; Live text on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app.

    In his latest column for BBC Sport, Jamie Murray talks about rekindling his successful partnership with Brazilian Bruno Soares before they face unseeded pair Marcelo Arevalo and Matwe Middelkoop on Wednesday, as well as how he celebrated his 35th birthday in Melbourne and his younger brother Andy's latest comeback.

    By winning our first three matches, Bruno and I have moved into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. Now we're into the business end of the tournament.

    That's exactly where we want to be. We're feeling good in our first Grand Slam back together.

    After winning the warm-up Great Ocean Road Open tournament,external-link it means we are unbeaten since reuniting for the 2021 season.

    We played well in the first couple of Australian Open matches, winning them in straight sets, and then the third match against Argentina's Maximo Gonzalez and Italy's Simone Bolelli was a battle from start to finish.

    After losing the first set, we fought back to win in three sets. It was pleasing to come through some tough moments in that match and earn the win.

    Being able to dig deep like that in the key moments is the benefit of Bruno and I having played about 200 matches together.

    We know what each other is doing on the court. Nothing feels a bit weird or tentative like it would with a new partner.

    I think it helps we are not starting out the year fresh like some of the other teams.

    In that regard, we have got an edge over quite a lot of the teams because we are starting the partnership again, we know what to expect from each other and feel comfortable with each other.

    We have got to use that to our advantage. It is not a guarantee of success, of course, but it definitely helps when we're starting out the year.

    Jamie Murray and Bruno SoaresMurray and Soares played together for three-and-a-half years, winning Australian Open and US Open titles in 2016, and finishing the year as world number ones, before splitting after the 2019 French Open

    Everyone was shocked when Bruno became available at the end of last season. And when I heard the news my instinct told me if I could make it happen then I should.

    Our reunion materialised at the ATP Finals in November. When I got to the O2 Arena I found out there was a lot of chopping and changing going on with the doubles partnerships.

    Bruno had split with Croatian Mate Pavic, despite a very successful partnership. Like everyone else, I thought 'Why? What's going on?'

    In the previous few months they had won the US Open, reached the French Open and Paris Masters finals, going on to finish as the year-end world number ones.

    I wasn't necessarily looking for another partner but when the opportunity came up it felt like I should make something happen if I could.

    Bruno and I haven't made any specific targets, although in our first spell together we wanted to win Wimbledon and the US Open titles because they were the ones we were missing. I don't think those goals have changed.

    Mainly we want to show we're a great team, enjoy competing and hopefully winning more titles together.

    Even before we played together Bruno and I were decent friends and the experiences we've had brought us closer. He has been one of my closest friends on the tour for a long time.

    Bruno's a cool and relaxed guy, good fun to be around. There is no stress or no nonsense. We have a similar sense of humour, although I wouldn't say we have loads of common interests – apart from tennis!

    But we just get on well and enjoy each other's company.

    Obviously, in a doubles partnership, that helps loads. You have got to spend so much time with the guy, on and off court, and you go through a lot of difficult moments throughout the season – in the matches, in the results, in the partnership. It is super intense.

    The stronger the personal bond is, the easier it is to work through these moments.

    'Birthday celebrations on hold in Melbourne lockdown'

    Saturday was my 35th birthday and for the first time I was in Melbourne for it. It felt very unusual.

    With Melbourne under the stricter restrictions of a snap lockdown now, I couldn't go out to celebrate but I marked it with a birthday barbecue.

    I'm staying in a place with Colin Fleming, who is part of my team, and we did a surf-and-turf barbecue. Colin cooked the barbecue – that was his present to me!

    My wife Alejandra, who is back in London, sent us a food hamper through some of our friends in Melbourne so we got stuck into that too.

    Normally I'm back in Europe on my birthday, usually playing in Rotterdam, so Ale would come to the tournament that week. That means we can spend my birthday and Valentine's Day together.

    Obviously this year is very different but I will see her when I get back to London and we will have a belated celebration then.

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    'I'm sure it has been a positive week for Andy'

    While I have been playing at the Australian Open, my brother Andy played away from the glare of a Grand Slam at an ATP Challenger event in Italy.

    He wants to play matches and get out to compete. He wasn't able to do that in Australia – which was a shame after he trained so hard – so playing the Challenger events was his only other option.

    He wanted to go to Biella, test out his game and his body. He doesn't have an ego to say 'I'm too good to play a Challenger tournament'.

    I'm sure it was a positive week overall because he played five matches in six days and got to the final.

    We've not spoken on the phone but we have chatted on WhatsApp.

    I didn't talk to him too much about the match – he was more interested in talking about his Football Manager career he's got going. And to wish me a 'Happy Birthday' of course!

    Jamie Murray was talking to BBC Sport's Jonathan Jurejko


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