By Ros Satar
(May 29, 2013) PARIS – On a late afternoon and a rare sunny day in Paris, people are jostling and bustling in this first week to pick up seats on the outside courts, as the doubles start to get underway.
To some fans, the main allure is a show court with the big names, but there are just as many people, fans from all countries who queue for a chance to see some fast-paced close-court action.
Of course for most mainstream observers of tennis, back in Britain, with Heather Watson’s defeat in the women’s singles, Roland-Garros is over, isn’t it?
Not so, and Watson is still slated for both the women’s doubles and the mixed (partnering Jonny Marray).
And in a quiet corner of the park, a Murray (Andy’s older brother, and doubles specialist Jamie) and Australian partner John Peers, quietly, but determinedly made their way through the first round, beating the 15th seeds Julian Knowle and Filip Polasek.
The match itself was a tight affair, both tie-break sets, a couple of breaks a-piece in the second set with the Brit/Aussie pairing triumphing 7-6(5), 7-6(5).
For those who follow more the doubles tournament, resembles a bizarre tennis equivalent of e-Harmony with players switching around all the time.
Murray has played with numerous players over the last few years, and when schedules did not work out for Peers with fellow Australian John-Patrick Smith, the pair got together after the Australian Open.
Murray said: “I asked him after Australia what he was planning to do, his schedule– neither of us really had a partner so we thought we’d give it a go.
“He came over to Europe, we played Europe for 3 or 4 weeks and then we were out in North America for a while – it’s been good.”
When it comes to the Masters, though, it is the time when players lower down the rankings often pair up with other players, often singles players with higher rankings, and the Murray brothers took a spin at Indian Wells for a couple of rounds.
This pairing has been together for around 4 months now, and saw them claim the scalp of the Bryan brothers for the ATP 250 title in Houston, which was Peers’ first title, and Murray’s eighth.
But such is the way of things, the following week as top seeds in the ATP Challenger in Sarasota, they fell in the first round to the eventual winners of the title.
Murray explained: “That’s the thing with tennis, you win a tournament, you finish on the weekend, you go to the next one on Monday and everything starts from zero again.
It’s difficult, especially after having such a big high, we lost to two good players.
Peers added: “They won the tournament.”
Being able to watch the doubles up close, on a smaller court, you are privy to more nuances of the relationship than you might perhaps pick up on the screen.
Out on court, Peers is quite vocal but the pair encourage each other all the while.
Murray said: “The last few tournaments we’ve had good team work on the court, a good energy going.
“It comes through on the court playing, and that’s the most important thing.”
Off court, Jamie recently competed alongside other Scottish sporting legends in the inaugural Celebrity Cup, which helped raise £65,000 for the Elizabeth Montgomerie Foundation, established in 2007 by golfer Colin Montgomerie in memory of his mother, who died of cancer.
As well as that, Murray is also heavily involved in the Set4Sport initiative, championed by his mother Judy.
And Peers would like to eventually be able to participate in Australian initiatives.
He said: “You’ve got to try and give back a little bit where you can because everyone else has done it before.
“Got to keep trying to get the ball rolling and get people interested in tennis.”
The difficulty though is that after the Australian swing, players find themselves away from home for almost the rest of the year, but Peers was optimistic.
“If we have some good results, definitely the schedule’s going to change so you can pick and choose your weeks – and you can get home for a couple of weeks.
“So hopefully we can keep going in the right direction and we can actually play the schedule we want to.”
Playing in the Slams is different now to the format on the tour, with No-Advantage games and a match tiebreak shoot-out in the deciding set.
Murray said: “Here you would expect that the best team on the day will win, whereas when we play the other scoring that doesn’t necessarily happen but here you can get away with a couple of lucky shots.
“You get the chance of being at deuce and it’s not just one point that wins the game.
“You’ve really got to earn your game.”
The pair’s plans after Roland Garros will see them at Queens, Eastbourne and Wimbledon.
Murray and Peers will face Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, who put out Ken Skupski (GBR) and Xavier Malisse (BEL) in the first round.
Phillip James contributed to this report.