It’s taken three years but Sheffield’s Jonathan Marray will finally get his wish when he steps on court at Wimbledon later today alongside men’s doubles partner Frederik Nielsen.
In 2012 Marray surprised everyone in the tennis world, including himself, by winning the Wimbledon men’s doubles title alongside Nielsen, netting himself a cool £130,000 in the process.
At the time Marray, a doubles specialist, was keen to keep their partnership going. However, Nielsen wanted to concentrate on improving his singles ranking.
That meant conflicting schedules at different tournaments often on opposite sides of the world.
And so Marray, a former All Saints Catholic High Schoolboy, and Neilsen went their separate ways – until now.
Granted a wildcard into this year’s Wimbledon, the reunited pair will take on Fabrice Martin of France and Purav Raja of India in a first round match that’s bound to bring the memories flooding back not only for the two players but also the crowd.
“I pestered him so much that he couldn’t really say no,” laughs Marray, now 34, about why the duo decided to get back together.
“Freddy still wanted to play singles and I’m a doubles man, but I always thought we would be mad not to try and do it more often when our schedules allowed. I’d known Freddy a long time. I knew his game and thought we could play well together, and we proved that we could. I never thought that we’d win it but as the matches went by and we kept winning then our confidence and expectations just grew. It was an amazing time.”
Did it change him? “No, I don’t think so. I had a bit more money in the bank, which was nice, but I didn’t really feel any different.
“To be honest it was all a bit of a blur. It was only when people started asking for interviews and my autograph that it began to sink in.”
Prior to Wimbledon 2012 Marray had been close to quitting the sport due to a combination of injury and his plummeting world ranking. Winning the title vindicated his decision to stick at it, although the quality of the men’s doubles field at Wimbledon this year means lightning is unlikely to strike twice.
“I think what happened to us showed that anything really can happen,” says Marray. “We just took one match at a time and that’s what we’ll be doing this time. That’s all you can do. I’m looking forward to it.”