Marray starts with dramatic win
Wimbledon champions Jonny Marray and Freddie Nielsen extended their winning streak in London in dramatic fashion with victory over Indian pair Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna in their opening match at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
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The British-Danish duo's success at SW19 as wild cards was one of the most unlikely stories of the sporting year and earned them a place at the end-of-season showpiece at the O2 Arena.
They made a great start on Tuesday afternoon, winning the opening set, and held a match point at 6-5 in the second but Marray's return found the top of the net.
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- ATP World Tour Finals - Day 2
It looked like their chance had gone when the Indians levelled the match and then took a 5-1 lead in the match tie-break but Marray and Nielsen fought back to take a 8-7 lead.
Twice Bhupathi and Bopanna held match points, at 9-8 and 10-9, but Marray and Nielsen saved them both and then took their chance, with the Dane serving it out 6-4 6-7 (1/7) 12-10.
Marray, 31, admitted the pair had ridden their luck, specifically on the match point at 10-9 when an eventful rally eventually ended with the Indians missing.
The Yorkshireman said: "Any shot could have gone anywhere anytime. But there's a lot of matches you get on the wrong side of that, so it's nice to get on the right side of it, especially at an event like this."
For players more used to competing on the Futures and Challengers tours than on tennis' main stages, it has been an incredible few months, capped off by their appearance here.
Marray said: "I suppose Wimbledon is the only other one, for me anyway, that's this kind of size with this amount of people supporting you.
"I'm enjoying every minute of it. I'm obviously a bit nervous before going on court every time but I actually felt pretty comfortable out there."
Nielsen is determined to make the most of every moment the pair have in London, which they will be hoping can extend all the way to Monday's final.
The Dane said: "This is probably the most exclusive tennis tournament there is in the world.
"I certainly didn't believe I would ever take part on the other side of the stands. It's a massive experience. It's indescribable how cool it is to be a part of as a player. I'm considering not sleeping just to get it all in.
"We're sitting here doing a press conference after a win at the O2 Arena. Normally I would be sitting in the locker room in Loughborough now and considering what went wrong in my singles qualifying match."
The World Tour Finals are a five-star tournament in every sense, with the players put up in a luxury hotel and transported to the venue by boat.
By way of comparison, Marray recalled his experiences of playing in a Futures tournament in Uzbekistan.
He said: "We were staying in some flats of some local residents or something. I don't know what happened. They were probably thrown out for a couple of weeks while we were there.
"One time, I think there was an uprising. The British consulate had to come in and drive us out in an armed convoy. That was a bit different. It's all character building stuff, isn't it?"
Marray has built on his Wimbledon success and his run to the semi-finals of the Paris Masters with Paul Hanley last week, which was ended by Bhupathi and Bopanna, lifted his ranking into the world's top 20.
But, with Nielsen unwilling to commit to doubles next season, the 31-year-old is looking for a regular partner and has even put an advert on the ATP website, so far without success.
On paper the Dane's decision is baffling given he is 29 and ranked a lowly 362nd, but for Nielsen it makes perfect sense.
He said: "The reason why I play tennis is because I love it. I see myself as a tennis player. I'm not a singles player or a doubles player. I'm not prepared to sacrifice one thing for the other.
"If I changed my philosophy and my outlook on life in order to play doubles, then it wouldn't make my happy. If I skipped singles now, it would be for the sake of results and money and that kind of stuff. That's never going to motivate me."