Wimbledon 2013: Champion Jonathan Marray ready for defence

By Ian WestbrookBBC Sport
Relive Marray's Wimbledon victory

British tennis enjoyed a renaissance last year with Andy Murray winning the US Open and two Olympic medals, one with Laura Robson, and Heather Watson winning a WTA Tour singles title.

But before any of the household names enjoyed their success, the run of trophy celebrations was started off in unexpected fashion by Jonathan Marray.

With Murray-mania gripping SW19 and grabbing the headlines, wildcard men's doubles entry Marray, together with his Danish partner Frederik Nielsen, ended a 76-year wait for a British champion in the event with a five-set win late on Saturday night.

For British fans the victory was as surprising as it was enjoyable.

Marray and Nielsen had only played together in three tournaments before arriving at SW19 and passed through the early rounds largely unnoticed.

They started to attract attention when they beat eighth seeds Aisam-Ul-Haq and Jean-Julien Rojer to reach the quarter-finals, where they saw off James Cerretani and Edouard Roger-Vasselin in another five-setter.

That made Marray the first British semi-finalist in the event since Mark Cox in 1977.

Marray and Nielsen's semi-final against defending champions the Bryan brothers was played on Court 12 and a four-set win for the outsiders confirmed the Sheffield-based player as Britain's first Wimbledon men's doubles finalist for 52 years.

At 17:00 BST on the penultimate day of last year's Championships, Marray and Nielsen strode out on to Centre Court to face fifth seeds Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau - and just over four hours, a rain break and five sets later they were crowned champions.

A year on, Marray admitted that last year's success is never far from his mind.

"(Winning Wimbledon) is something I think about every week. It's something I'm really proud of. It was a great achievement for myself and Freddie and it gives me a lot of confidence going into this year," he told BBC Radio Sheffield.

"I proved to myself that I can play at a good level. It's something I'm looking to build on in the future.

"Regardless of what happens in the rest of my career I'll always have that Wimbledon title. It has taken the pressure off financially because I was playing the lower ranked tournaments and that's not paid very well.

"Having that Wimbledon title - it does make you more relaxed about what the future may hold."

Following Wimbledon, the pair played in another five tournaments together.

They went out in the second round of the US Open and then reached the semi-finals of the ATP Tour World Finals at London's O2 Arena - an event they qualified for by winning Wimbledon - which proved to be their last match together.

Jonathan Marray (left) and Colin Fleming
Marray (left) and Fleming are ninth seeds for this year's men's doubles

While Marray and Nielsen are back in the men's doubles at SW19 again this year - they are in two separate partnerships, after splitting at the end of the year so the Dane could concentrate on his singles career.

Marray has teamed up with compatriot Colin Fleming while Nielsen enters the competition with Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov, the boyfriend of Maria Sharapova.

The all-British pair have played in nine tournaments so far this year and although they went out in the first round of the French Open, they have reached two semi-finals and the final in this week's event in Eastbourne, where they were beaten in three sets by the world number two pairing of Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares.

Marray is of course hoping to retain his Wimbledon title, with Fleming, and said: "That's the aim. Grass suits our game. We've had great preparation leading up to it, but there's so many great teams out there so it's not going to be easy.

"There's also singles players that play for the big one and they are always a bit tricky.

"You never know. There are hurdles to overcome at each stage of the competition, but we'll give it our best shot."

The 32-year-old is also looking forward to being well-supported and added: "British people tend to get behind us whatever tournament we play in this country, which helps.

"It's always nice to play at home, as this is the only real chance of the year we get to play in England."

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