Jamie Murray column: Australian Open weather, ATP Cup & footballing rivalries

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2020 Australian Open
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 20 January to 2 February
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and online; Live text on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app.

Britain’s Jamie Murray is competing in the men’s doubles and mixed doubles at the Australian Open, where he will again produce regular columns for BBC Sport. The Scot starts by talking about the freak red dust which hit Melbourne and led to the cancellation of his opening match, coping with Great Britain’s heartbreaking exit in the ATP Cup and dealing with social media ‘trolls’.

You may have seen Thursday’s play at the Australian Open was delayed by a strange red dust which came down in a rain storm, meaning I’ve made a later start to the tournament than I thought.

Neal Skupski and I were supposed to play our first match in the men’s doubles on Thursday, but it ended up being cancelled after delays because the courts needed cleaning.

I don’t think the tournament organisers could do anything to prevent it, I mean how unlucky is getting a dust storm!

I’m sure that never happens in Melbourne. It was just very unfortunate.

There are no hard court tournaments in the world that have court covers and there are never really any delays here because the warm weather usually dries out any rain.

I’ve been playing here a long time at this tournament and I’ve never really experienced anything major.

In the end we were glad not to play because there is a lot of hanging around in these situations.

Rain and dust delayed the start of the fourth day’s play in Melbourne

We arrived at Melbourne Park early in the morning and got to the site just before 10am. Because of the delays and then more rain, it looked like we might not go on until 6pm. That is a lot of time to be waiting around with very little to do.

We managed to practise on the outside courts which were covered in that red dust, then I went back to my coach’s hotel to get away from the courts and have a change of scenery.

First the tournament organisers moved our match to fourth on the court and then they decided mid-afternoon to cancel it.

So we were quite happy because there will be better conditions and better weather to play on Friday.

Dust from a rain storm is among the strangest reasons I’ve had for a match to be delayed.

I remember one time I was playing a Challenger Tour match in the Netherlands and the guy was playing his serve and the net collapsed!

So we had to wait a while for them to find a new net so we could start again. That is probably the weirdest delay I’ve had in my career!

‘I didn’t sleep well after ATP Cup miss’

Murray reacts after missing a backhand on match point in Great Britain’s ATP Cup quarter-final against Australia

The low point of the recent ATP Cup, obviously, was going out in a cruel manner to Australia in the quarter-finals.

For me it was especially hard because I missed a backhand on match point in the decisive doubles that I would put away 99 times out of 100.

It is just one of those things. Everyone playing on the tour would have stuffed up a match at some stage in the same way that I did.

But, I admit, it was difficult for me to sleep that night and the shot was replaying in my head.

It can be tough to pick yourself from moments like that, but they happen and the next day I was fine. The following week there is another event to get stuck into and focus on, so you have to get over it quickly.

At the end of the day it was one shot and one match. It will not make or break my career.

Everyone makes mistakes in their job, whatever it is, but ours differs in that there is a lot of attention from the public.

Generally I receive a lot of positive comments on social media from fans who are just as gutted as we are following moments like that.

But there is a small minority who like to send negative comments.

Some people will write message to you on Instagram or Twitter, usually people who have been betting on the match, and they will give you grief.

But that doesn’t bother me or affect me one bit. I won’t lose sleep over that or spend too much time thinking about that.

Trolling, as it is seems to be called now, is something I’m sure all players are affected by when they lose matches because people have that ability to contact you so they can send what they want to send.

Sometimes it is sent in English or a foreign language – which helps because I don’t understand it – but I just delete it and move on.

I’m not sure this sort of abuse can ever be regulated. Social media has its good points and that is one of the negatives.

It is great that people are able to contact their heroes but in the same way it doesn’t stop someone giving players a hard time.

I pay zero attention to it and I’ve never thought about it for more than a second.

It will never affect me when I get on court and start competing.

‘Working with Tim Henman was fun – but doubt we will see him coaching full-time’

Other than the way we went out, I really enjoyed the ATP Cup.

I think it was a great event and a huge success from a player’s point of view.

It was a big event with all the top players representing their countries, being part of a team and playing in front of a lot of people.

It was also cool having the team zones on the side of the court and great seeing the players interacting and supporting each other.

I thought it was a great way to start the season.

We had a lot of fun in the British team, as you could see from the cameras and microphones in the team zones.

Off the court we went to the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge and we went out into the harbour on a boat so that was great angle to look back at those world-famous landmarks.

It was also cool to have Tim Henman on the side of the court helping us because, as a former world number four and Grand Slam semi-finalist, he has been there and experienced those big moments as a player.

He got right into the competitive nature as our team captain and was loving being back.

But I don’t think he wants to coach full-time anytime soon. To do it justice you have to put the time in and that’s a minimum 25-week commitment.

I don’t think that’s something he’s interesting in at this point of time. Maybe that will change – we will see!

‘The partnership with Neal is on the right track – as long as we don’t talk football’

Neal and I are continuing on the right track since getting together last year and we’re hoping to go even further at a Slam after reaching the US Open semi-finals in September.

We have been pretty consistent on the ATP Tour and have reached a lot of other semi-finals, including in Adelaide last week.

We haven’t reached a final yet, which has been bit disappointing, but we are looking to change that in Melbourne!

One area where we don’t get on – in a joking manner, of course – is football.

I’m a Manchester United fan and he’s a Liverpool fan, so he had a few words after Sunday’s result at Anfield!

I didn’t set my alarm for that match and I’m glad after United lost 2-0. But I expected it.

Neal and his brother Ken – who is also out here playing in the doubles – were loving it! They were so happy and made me know about it.

I was hoping United could get a result because if they go on to win all their games, except for the United ones, then that would have been some consolation.

I’m resigned to Liverpool winning the Premier League title but one title in 30 years is fine – because that’s a terrible record!

Jamie Murray was speaking to BBC Sport’s Jonathan Jurejko at Melbourne Park



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