Becoming a Wimbledon champion was always going to bring extra attention on Jonathan Marray.
Marray’s run with Frederik Nielsen to the Gentlemen’s Doubles title at Wimbledon last year propelled the Brit to stardom. A regular fixture at main tour events thanks to his ranking, which jumped more than 50 places to No.21 after winning here, he has had to quickly get used to being approached by spectators for a chat.
It is just a shame that some of them think he is Jarkko Nieminen.
“It first happened in the States last year,” said Marray. “Some woman started talking to me, saying that she loved the way I play. She was bigging me up for a while and then she said it was ‘because I’m half Finnish as well’ and I was like what are you on about?”
Partner Colin Fleming revealed the case of mistaken identity even brought Marray quite an ovation in Monte Carlo in April. He said: “When Jarkko beat Juan Martin Del Potro, Jonny was getting applauded when he walked in the hotel.”
Hopefully, considering he was on home soil, the spectators on Court 14 were well aware of who Marray was as he and Fleming beat Martin Klizan and Igor Zelenay 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Fleming received treatment on a side strain after dropping the second set and the British ninth seeds recovered to book their place in the second round.
Marray is aware of added interest from the home fans but unlike fellow Brit Andy Murray, the 32-year-old from Sheffield can still occasionally enjoy a wander around the grounds of the All England Club without being swarmed by autograph hunters.
“I’ve got no idea what it’s like for someone like Andy,” said Marray. “He couldn’t do anything anywhere in the world without someone noticing, never mind here around Wimbledon time. It’s nice just to be able to wander around and do your own thing. It’s pretty relaxed for me.”
An interested spectator on the balcony of the broadcast centre roof for Fleming and Marray’s match was Nielsen, who earlier had a comfortable passage through to the second round with Grigor Dimitrov as opponents Bernard Tomic and Viktor Troicki were forced to retire down 6-3 1-2 after the Australian suffered a slight hamstring strain.
Nielsen and Marray are not defending their title together this year as the Danish 29-year-old is still keen on keeping his singles career alive, despite only being ranked No.616. Although he was still keen to play with Marray in bigger events, an opportunity for Marray to team up with Fleming on a permanent basis came up after Ross Hutchins was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Nielsen said: “The only thing I couldn’t commit to was a full doubles schedule and obviously with Jonny being a full-time doubles player and my singles ranking being a bit low, I was going to play a lot of tournaments where he wasn’t going to be, so obviously it was going to be more convenient for him to find a regular doubles partner.
“He was having trouble with that so we were talking about maybe just playing the big tournaments where I was going to be anyway but due to the terrible and unfortunate situation with Ross, Colin was also looking for a partner and they were able to hook up. I think that’s a really good solution for everybody.”
Some spectators may have done a double-take when they strolled past Court 7 as Britain’s Dominic Inglot, who was the body double for lead actor Paul Bettany in the 2004 movie Wimbledon, teamed up with Treat Huey to beat Roberto Bautista Agut and Daniel Gimeno-Travel 6-3, 6-4, 7-5.
British wild cards David Rice and Sean Thornley threatened a comeback against Marinko Matosevic and Frank Moser but eventually went down 6-4, 6-3, 6-7(7), 4-6, 6-4, while Jamie Baker – who has acted as a practice partner for Andy Murray this week – and Kyle Edmund lost 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 to David Marrero and Andreas Seppi.
Last year’s ATP World Tour Finals champions and second seeds Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez, both of Spain, suffered a shock 6-7(1), 7-5, 7-5, 7-6(5) defeat by Colombians Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah.
Fourteen years after he won the gentlemen’s doubles title here with Leander Paes, 39-year-old Mahesh Bhupathi progressed with Julian Knowle after a 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2 win over Leonardo Mayer and Albert Ramos.
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