ATP World Tour Finals 2016: Murray and Soares edge to semis and No1 with Bryans win
Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares beat Americans Bob and Mike Bryan 6-3 6-4 at the ATP World Tour Finals
Certainly the O2’s welcome of Andy Murray was rapturous as he took to court for the first time as world No1. But he is not the only Murray who has tasted the rarefied air of being top of the ranking pile.
Elder brother Jamie was, for a short while, No1 in doubles earlier this year. And although he and Bruno Soares, who began playing together for the first time this season, did not hold onto the top spot for long, the duo is now in with a chance of claiming the year-end team No1.
Having won their first match already, it was time to take on arguably one of the finest doubles pairings ever to play the game, Bob and Mike Bryan, who also won their opener here.
The Americans have qualified for this tournament for the 15th consecutive year, and arrived here clutching yet another ATP Fans’ Favourite Award. They have won this title four times before, and although 2016 has yielded fewer wins than many a year, they remain a formidable doubles force.
What’s more, in their only previous meeting against the Australian and US Open champions Murray and Soares, the Bryans had won handily. It was on the clay of Rome, a 6-3, 6-4 trouncing on the way to the title.
But the Bryans’ relative lack of form this season was thrown into sharp relief by the top seeds. With just half an hour down, Murray and Soares had a break and went on to take the set, 6-3.
They were sharp, aggressive and serving at a near perfect level. Murray afterwards suggested it was one of their best matches of the year.
Sure enough, they got the only break of the second set, too, while the Bryans could not work even a break-point chance. The Brit/Brazilian pair raced to victory, 6-4, in one hour, having won 30 out of 33 first serves and dropping only four points on their second serve, too.
The O2 cheered to the rafters, and Murray and Soares—who have gelled as a partnership with impressive speed this year—embraced and grinned.
With just cause: their two straight-sets wins as good as guarantee their place in the semis, though the result between the other two duos in their group, Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo against Treat Huey and Max Mirnyi, may delay matters when they meet this evening.
Murray admitted afterwards: “We certainly played a great match, from start to finish. Probably one of our best matches of the year. We served really well throughout, cleaned up well on our serves.
“I think we had a good game plan against them, executed it really well. I think we both returned the ball smartly, put it in some difficult spots for them, then were really active around the net.
“Yeah, I mean, I think we’re both super pumped about the win. Should have a good chance to progress further in the tournament now.”
Murray and his partner are not the only ones pumped. London is only too aware that the O2 is the scene of two No1 campaigns this week, by the two brothers Murray.
And that is something many Britons never dreamed they would see.