Wimbledon: Jonny Marray and the trouble with doubles

Sheffield's Jonny Marray

Sheffield's Jonny Marray

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Even Wimbledon champions are forced to risk missing top tournaments in the “last-minute scrabble” for a doubles partner.

Sheffield’s Jonny Marray won the men’s doubles title at Wimbledon in 2012, but now admits he has travelled to tournaments with no plan whatsoever.

The 33-year-old jetted out to Indian Wells in March unable to convince anyone to join him on court.

As the registration deadline loomed, Wimbledon’s reigning men’s singles champion Andy Murray filled the breach.

“In Indian Wells this year I went there without a partner,” said Marray of the March tournament in California.

“I’d asked Andy to play with me, and he said ‘if you can’t find a partner, if you can’t find anyone I’ll be happy to play’.

“I was asking around and not finding anyone, but I didn’t really want to ask Andy to play, because obviously singles is his priority and it’s a bit of a favour for me obviously for him to play.

“I ended up having to ask him in the end.

“I was literally asking all the top singles guys, all the top 20 guys, which sometimes you don’t like doing.

“But at the end of the day I’d paid for my flight over and my accommodation for the past couple of weeks to prepare, so I wanted to get in.

“So you’ve got to bite the bullet and go around asking.”

Marray has struggled for full fitness and a regular doubles partner since lifting the Wimbledon doubles crown along with Dane Frederik Nielsen in 2012.

Marray partnered Jean-Paul Smith for the first time today, edging into Wimbledon’s second round with a 6-4 5-7 6-4 over Andreas Siljestrom and Igor Zelenay.

Hopeful of a clean bill of health after persistent calf trouble, Marray admitted he cannot figure any solution to the merry-go-round that plagues even the world’s top doubles stars.

“It’s not ideal: in 2013 I didn’t have that problem, I had a partner in Colin (Fleming), where we were getting into every tournament in the world.

“In that situation you’re a bit clearer in the mind, not always scouring the schedules.

“But now you’ve got to wing it a little bit, you’ve always got to be available to go to different places at the drop of a hat.

“You can’t plan your schedule out, plan your breaks out, things like that.

“I want to try to play in the best tournaments and there’s a lot of last-minute scrabbling around for partners, hours before the entry deadline and things like that.

“Generally I wouldn’t go to a place unless I had a guaranteed partner.

“There’s an on-site entry deadline on the Saturday before the Monday start, I try to have someone teed up beforehand but occasionally you’ve got to scrabble around last-minute.

“It’s not ideal but I suppose it’s just part of the game.”