Australian Open 2016: Jamie Murray - third time lucky?

Jamie Murray
Jamie Murray is in the Australian Open men's doubles final

It's a record his younger, more famous brother would be proud of were he ever to achieve it again in singles: three back-to-back Grand Slam finals.

Andy Murray did it three years ago; at Wimbledon 2012, the US Open a few months later and then the 2013 Australian Open.

One win out of three ain't bad, at that level, is it?

Of course Murray, competitive to his last breath, would then play his joker: there was also an Olympic final in among that lot.

London 2012 was sandwiched gloriously in between the heartbreak of losing to Roger Federer at the All England Club and the tears of joy when he defeated Novak Djokovic in the Big Apple some weeks later.

Now, at the Australian Open, big brother Jamie is also going for one out of three.

His transformation into one of the most consistent doubles players on the tour has been as sudden as it has been surprising.

Not due to any lack of talent. There can scarcely be a player, in doubles or singles, with better hands at the net, or a better feel for a volley.

It's more a case that this overnight breakthrough has taken nearly nine years.

Lest anyone forget, Jamie Murray was the first of that clan to win at Wimbledon, and claim a Grand Slam title. 2007, anyone?

Without resorting to a search engine, or reading any further: can you remember who his playing partner was?

If it seems a long time since those pictures in the south-west London sunshine of a smiling Jamie Murray holding up the mixed doubles trophy with Jelena Jankovic, that's because it is.

The elder Murray brother was 21 and seemingly had the tennis world, and the paparazzi, at his feet.

Jamie Murray and Jelena Jankovic with their Wimbledon trophies
Jamie Murray and Jelena Jankovic won the Wimbledon mixed doubles title in 2007

He won three titles that year with his then doubles partner, Eric Butorac, and was Wimbledon champion on the hallowed grass in the mixed.

The next year, he reached another Grand Slam mixed doubles final, this time with Liezel Huber. They lost, but surely great things lay ahead.

They duly arrived, although I'm not sure anyone thought they would take the best part of a decade to materialise.

Jamie Murray and John Peers at the World Tour Finals
Jamie Murray and John Peers split up after two Grand Slam final defeats and the World Tour Finals

After Butorac, Murray changed partners regularly.

They're a promiscuous lot, those doubles players, in that sense. Other silverware did sparkle along the way; it shouldn't be forgotten that Murray is the proud owner of 14 doubles titles on the world tour.

However, his inability to maximise his talent, or find a reliable long-term playing partner, proved frustrating.

So frustrating that, a few years ago, after his ranking plummeted and the wins dried up, he was seriously contemplating quitting the sport altogether.

Then along came a relatively unknown Australian called John Peers.

They didn't make too many headlines when they began to play together in early 2013. The titles soon arrived and, more significantly, they became contenders at Grand Slam level, reaching the quarter-finals of the US Open that year.

The pair's perseverance paid off in 2015. They made the final at both Wimbledon and the US Open and also qualified for the end of season World Tour finals, another first for Jamie.

Before that tournament got under way at London's O2 arena, the pair made a surprise announcement. They were splitting up.

Jamie and Andy Murray celebrate their Davis Cup win over Belgium
Jamie and Andy Murray proved to be a formidable team as Great Britain won the Davis Cup

Their two Grand Slam finals had both ended in defeat and, as he chose Brazil's Bruno Soares as his new partner, there was a sense from Jamie that the move was tied to his target of actually winning one of the big four men's doubles trophies.

His chances of doing that were done no harm whatsoever in late November. The pretty, medieval, Belgian town of Ghent will now forever be synonymous with one of the great moments in Scottish and British sporting history.

Andy's role in that delightful David Cup triumph is rightly highlighted. Over four ties, he played 11 matches and won them all, a brilliant British backbone for the team, designed and developed in Dunblane.

As, of course, was Jamie, whose part in the proceedings should neither be overlooked nor underestimated. Andy's eight singles wins by themselves wouldn't have been enough.

He needed a giant-killing from James Ward in Glasgow when the Americans came to town. And he needed a dependable doubles partner from the quarter-finals onwards.

Cue his elder sibling.

Brothers-in-arms, the Murrays mauled France and Australia before famously beating Belgium in their own backyard.

For Jamie, it was top-class, pressure-piled, expectation-laden sport, played out in front of an international TV audience of millions, alongside his global superstar brother.

Oh, and with all of Britain hoping he could help end a 79-year wait for the Davis Cup.

Bruno Soares and Jamie Murray celebrate in Australia
Bruno Soares and Jamie Murray have proved a strong team at the Australian Open

Jamie Murray stepped up to the plate admirably. He played consistently well last year, especially in the Davis Cup. It seems that competition draws out the best in both the Murray brothers.

He capped his best-ever year on tour by helping Britain win its first Davis Cup since 1936.

The penny had finally dropped for the first Murray child that there was a chance to fulfil his true potential, having watched wee brother Andy fulfil his at the Olympics, the US Open and Wimbledon.

Together, they fulfilled their Davis Cup destiny.

An experience that could prove priceless for the rest of Jamie's career, as he knows he can cut it against the best at the very highest level of the sport.

This weekend, in the famous surroundings of the Rod Laver Arena, he has another chance to vindicate his decision not to call time on his tennis career.

Third time lucky? There's every chance against the veterans Daniel Nestor and Radek Stepanek.

But, even if it doesn't happen this time, I get the impression Jamie Murray has a few more Grand Slam finals left in him yet.

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