Jamie Murray is set to become the first male Brit in the modern era to hold a World Number One ranking, and it is fair to say that he has done it against the odds.
The older Murray brother has, rightly or wrongly, been in the sizeable shadow of his younger brother Andy for some time now.
However, 30-year old Jamie will – as of April 4th – have objectively achieved something that Andy never has (yet): a place at the summit of the world rankings.
Growing up in a tennis family
It is no secret that Jamie and his brother Andy grew up in a family where tennis was of significant importance, characterised by the passion of their mother Judy.
What is less well-known is that Jamie started out as a singles player, and that he had great success throughout his youth in this form of the game.
After finishing runner-up at the Junior Orange Bowl in Florida at the age of 12 – an event that has played host to the likes of Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi, and Steffi Graf to name but a few – Jamie was named the second best player in junior tennis at the age of 13.
Such promise earned Murray a place at The Leys School in Cambridge, where he received expert tennis coaching on a regular basis.
A gift for many, Judy’s eldest son despised his time at Cambridge and took the decision to stop playing tennis for two years as his desire to be a professional tennis player faded away.
The start of something special
The first true taste of doubles tennis for Jamie came 12 years ago, when he partnered Brother Andy at the 2004 US Open. The pair reached the semi-final of the competition and it would be the latter rather than the former who chose to take the singles route.
Murray’s career really kicked off in 2005, where he tasted success at a number of futures events, alongside fellow British players Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins.
Just two years later, the then 21-year old Jamie experienced his first Davis Cup selection, accompanying the iconic Greg Rusedski just before his retirement came after the two competed together against the Netherlands.
Three months later and almost by complete chance, Murray teamed-up with the former singles World Number One Jelena Jankovic as the pair won Wimbledon together in the mixed doubles event.
Still struggling for success on the ATP Tour, Jamie once again had a fruitful year in the mixed doubles Grand Slam events in 2008; with a place in the US Open final, Wimbledon semi-final and French Open quarter-final, Murray’s career looked to be going from strength to strength.
Form is temporary…
As brother Andy was rapidly approaching the World Number One spot – moving up to second in the world in 2009 along with winning Olympic Gold, his first Grand Slam title in New York, and that elusive Wimbledon – Jamie’s career had taken a turn for the worse.
Struggling to find a consistent doubles partner – Murray played alongside 15 others that year and slipped to 92nd in the world rankings.
After beginning 2013 with a poor showing in the Australian Open alongside Fleming, Murray was again considering whether to leave the sport and seek pastures new.
Nevertheless, the turning point came just a few weeks later, as he teamed-up with Aussie John Peers.
…Class is permanent
Murray and Peers’ relationship off the court left little to be admired. However, on the court, they were proving to be an exceptional doubles pair.
The two were partners for three years and experienced finals together at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2015, as well as qualifying for the World Tour Finals in London at the end of the season.
For one reason or another, Murray and Peers decided to end their partnership after the season-ending tournament in London, and Jamie turned to Brazilian Bruno Soares as the latest player to make up the other half of his duo.
Success for the pair came instantaneously, with victory at the 2016 Australian Open marking the first men’s doubles Grand Slam of Murray’s career and sending him just inches from a spot at the summit of Men’s Doubles tennis.
And with Marcelo Melo’s early defeat in the Miami Open this weekend, Jamie Murray has achieved something that no Brit has accomplished since Virginia Wade back in 1973, and now is the time that we as a nation must celebrate Jamie’s spectacular rise to the top of men’s tennis.