Andy Murray raising profile of doubles at Wimbledon
Murray set to play in both men's doubles and mixed doubles on Saturday
By Mathieu Wood at Wimbledon
Last Updated: 06/07/19 11:52am
Andy Murray might not be competing in the singles at Wimbledon but the former world No 1 is having a big impact on the tournament, particularly in raising the prominence of doubles.
While 15-year-old American qualifier Cori Gauff continues to win new fans from all over the world following her remarkable progress through the women's draw, Murray's presence in the both the men's and mixed doubles is significant.
Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Murray's partner in the men's doubles, has already achieved the career Grand Slam yet he is not be a household name in the UK. By the end of the fortnight he most certainly will be.
After all the sporting obituaries seemed to have been compiled before, during and after the Australian Open here Murray is, playing with a new lease of life which seemed a distant thought at the start of the year.
Game, Set and Facts
Andy Murray is bidding to become the first men's singles champion to win the doubles title at Wimbledon since Michael Stich in 1992.
The Murray and Herbert combination understandably began slowly as they lost the first set of the first round meeting against Marius Copil and Ugo Humbert, but they quickly clicked as a team to win comfortably.
But the challenges will only become harder, beginning with a match against eighth seeds Franko Skugor and Nikola Mektic on Saturday.
Someone who needs no introduction is 23-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams, who along with Murray is forming a formidable double-act in the mixed doubles.
The excitement surrounding the two multiple Grand Slam champions' impromptu partnership is extending beyond the public and into the locker room at the All England Club.
There will be some quality tennis from two champions of our sport.
"That's an amazing partnership," said world No 1 Ashleigh Barty, who was asked by Murray but declined because the French Open champion had already committed to the singles and women's doubles.
"They're going to have a lot of fun. I don't think there's any team in the draw that wants to play them. I think they're certainly going to be a force to be reckoned with, that's for sure.
"I think you're just going to see two of the best playing mixed doubles. Everyone who gets to see that match will be amazed, I'm sure. There will be some quality tennis from two champions of our sport. It's going to be a pretty exciting game."
That mixed doubles debut German Andreas Mies and Alexa Guarachi of Chile will take place on Saturday, meaning a second match in a day, after their first-round match was postponed late on Friday.
Nick Kyrgios and Frances Tiafoe, who have both been eliminated from the men's singles, are the only two male players from the world's top 100 in the mixed doubles field.
Aside from Serena and her older sister Venus, the other notable names from the women's game include former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, world No 11 Aryna Sabalenka and teenage sensation Gauff.
Disappointing, but what is probably more surprising is that former doubles partners Bruno Soares and Jamie Murray, ranked world No 7 and 8 respectively are the highest ranked men's doubles specialist in the mixed draw.
Yet, Murray's matches, for however long they last at this year's championships will create an undeniable buzz and raise the roof of whatever court they play on. As was the case for Rafael Nadal's enthralling match against Nick Kyrgios, there is a sense you are watching box office tennis.
"It's good for mixed doubles. It's good for men's doubles, or doubles in general, that Andy is just playing doubles and mixed," Roger Federer, who has never played in mixed doubles at Wimbledon, said.
"It's good to highlight how important doubles and mixed is. To have Andy play with Serena, I mean, that's going to be exciting, to say the least. I'll be watching, I know that."
Add into the mix Serena, who won the mixed doubles title alongside Max Mirnyi in 1998, and you have the ideal recipe for compelling viewing.
Murray has admitted to not having played much with Williams on the practice courts at tournaments during their respective careers but they both have a natural ability to translate their singles game into doubles.
Serena has won 15 Grand Slam doubles titles across her career to date, including six at Wimbledon - all alongside Venus. With Murray you don't need to reflect for long on his doubles ability, having performed so well on so many occasions with his brother Jamie for Great Britain on the Davis Cup stage.
Momentum can be discovered very quickly in a scratch pairing, as was proven by Murray and Feliciano Lopez's title at Queen's Club last month.
Murray was beaten in the first round of the mixed doubles alongside Shahar Peer at Wimbledon in 2005, while a year later he was knocked out in the second round alongside Kirsten Flipkens.
You sense this year, he and Serena, who has appeared rusty in the singles in her first tournament back since the French Open, can certainly improve on that, especially with the support of a passionate home backing.
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