Jamie Murray brands Mats Wilander’s Andy Murray criticism ‘unfair’ as British doubles teams march on in Paris


Murray and Skupski are into the quarter-finals (Picture: Getty)

In a week where British tennis has come under the microscope after a clean sweep of first-round singles exits, doubles players Jamie Murray, Neal Skupski and Joe Salisbury served a timely reminder that there is strength in depth in that format of the sport.

Murray and Skupski booked their spots in the quarter-finals with a three sets win over second seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos, while Salisbury and American partner Rajeev Ram – who are yet to drop a set – cruised past French pair Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin.

There has been a British doubles Grand Slam champion in each year since 2016. Prior to this year, seven-time Slam champion Murray has won a major in each of those seasons.

Salisbury maintained British tennis’ good run in doubles Slams by winning the Australian Open at the start of this heavily disrupted year and he and Ram have already qualified for the season-ending ATP Finals. Murray and Skupski are on course to join them there.

A man who has been heavily credited with the strength in depth in British men’s doubles – there are currently eight men in the top-100 – is Canadian coach Louis Cayer, who Murray gave a nod to once again after he and Skupski set up a quarter-final clash with German pair Andreas Mies and Kevin Krawiez.

‘It’s his teaching, how he sees the game, his philosophy on the game,’ said Murray after his 6-3 4-6 6-4 win.

Salisbury and Ram also went through (Picture: Getty)

‘All the boys that are coming through are taught that certainly when it comes to sort of positioning, movement, creating uncertainty for the opponents.

‘He has his principles and stuff. Obviously I think from very early on for me, I mean I had a lot of success early, obviously I’ve been able to play at the top of the game for quite a long time now.

‘I think for the other boys coming through, I think they obviously see something that works and believe in and see that you can have success with that.

‘They have gone through that process as well, and we have got a lot of guys playing at this level of events now.’

Murray also defended his brother Andy – who was routed 6-1 6-3 6-2 by Stan Wawrinka in the first round – after he came in for criticism from Mats Wilander for ‘taking’ wildcards off younger players.

‘Well, I think Andy is well within his rights to accept a wildcard at a tournament,’ added Murray. ‘I mean, he obviously came here wanting to compete in the event and try to do as well as he can.

‘Obviously he didn’t have any matches going into the tournament and then he played Stan Wawrinka in the first round, another guy who has got three Grand Slams and loves playing on clay. So it was a bit of a disaster draw for him. I think that was unfair criticism.

‘Of course, Andy didn’t play his best match in the tournament, but nobody when they accept a wildcard into a tournament is going in thinking that they’re not going to play their best match.

Murray was well beaten (Picture: Getty)

‘He’s a champion, been at the top of the game forever, three Grand Slams. I don’t think he has to prove anything to anyone.’

Salisbury gave a straightforward explanation why Britain’s doubles contingent are outperforming their singles counterparts: they’re better!

‘Well, obviously the doubles, apart from a couple of the singles players, obviously in general the doubles guys are ranked higher and kind of seeded in the Slams so you would expect them to go further,’ said Salisbury.

‘I think on the clay for a lot of singles guys it’s not their favorite surface, so it’s tougher.

‘At the moment there’s more strength in the doubles than at the singles, so that’s the main reason.’

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