ndy Murray and Joe Salisbury pulled off a shock in knocking out the No2 seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in the opening round of the Olympics.
The French pairing had won the French Open and were runners-up at the Australian Open but, for all their experience together, they were outclassed by the British duo playing together for the first time.
They looked a good fit from the outset of a 6-3 6-2 victory, Murray serving well and geeing up his teammate while Salisbury’s reactions at the net were sublime.
There was an element of irony in the draw in that Herbert had opted to forego his usual partnership with Mahut when Murray approached him to partner him in the men’s doubles at Wimbledon in 2019, the same year in which Murray played the mixed with Serena Williams.
Following the win, Murray said: “I think we have the potential to be a really good team, I think the result today showed that. Doubles is always tricky because sometimes the matches can come down to a few points.
“We were well deserved winners today, we created lots of chances, but not every doubles match is like that. I think if we keep the same sort of attitude and everything, prepare diligently, I think we’ve got a chance of doing well.”
A solitary break of Herbert’s serve was all that was required in the opening set, which Murray served comfortably for.
From there, their rivals struggled to claw back their momentum, Mahut increasingly frustrated and smacking the drinks’ cooler with his racket at one point at the change of ends.
In truth, Murray and Salisbury should have got an early break to go up 2-1 in the second set but Herbert held firm only for Mahut to be broken, leading to a joint shout of “come on” from the British pair.
With that, it seemed to extinguish the fire from both Herbert and Mahut, the former broken once more and Salisbury confidently serving out the win much to the delight of a noisy entourage from Team GB in the sweltering conditions.
On the evidence of that one performance, Murray and Salisbury pose a dangerous threat to the rest of the draw as Murray bids for a third Olympic gold medal and his first in the doubles.
Murray returns to action again on Sunday in the singles against highly rated Canadian Felix Augur Aliassime, much like his doubles tie a tricky opening-round match.
Assessing his chances, the former world No1 said: “Today was a good start. I do like the conditions here in terms of how the court plays and everything. Obviously not an easy one against Felix but I’ve played well in the practice sets and the practice matches that I’ve had and obviously today was a good one for the confidence. I think I’ll be alright.”