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Australian Open: Jonny O’Mara hopes new partnership with Andrei Vasilevski can hit ground running after practice sessions with Andy Murray

AFTER marvelling at the recent successes enjoyed by those closest to him, Jonny O’Mara is hoping a spot of good fortune falls his way this week.

The doubles specialist jokingly takes credit for Andy Murray’s run to the final in Sydney recently and reveals he stayed up through the night to watch his team Arbroath extend their lead at the top of the Championship.

“I watched the match against Raith the other day and predicted the score,” he reveals. “I was asked before I went to sleep and said it would be another away masterclass, a 2-1 win. To see Dick Campbell in the Premiership would be absolute madness!”

O’Mara is looking to upset the odds himself this week. Having gone through more partners recently than a particularly fussy speed dater, the 26 year-old will pair up with Andrei Vasilevski for the first time in the Australian Open.

A quarter-finalist here just two years ago, the Tennis Scotland ambassador admits it is something of a step into the unknown but hopes he and his new partner can click right away.

“I had a pretty tough time over the Christmas period,” he reveals. “I was going to start the year with Oliver Marach, No. 2 in the world, so I was pretty excited about that partnership. 

“He then messaged me saying he’d slipped a disc in his back. Since then, I’ve just been trying to hustle up a few partners. I’ve seen Andrei around the tour a few times, we’ve had a couple of practices over the last couple of days and it’s gone pretty well. 

“I’m looking forward to getting going now. You just have to be flexible and we’ve been practising well. So hopefully we can get a good vibe going.”

O’Mara had a hit with Murray prior to his run at Sydney and again earlier this week. Should the former world number one go deep in Melbourne, his pal from Arbroath will be happy to take the credit.

“Andy’s playing well and in good spirits,” he adds. “I actually hit with him before Sydney on the Sunday and he went on to make the final. So I was joking with him the other day saying that if he wants another good run here he knows where I’m at! He took up the offer and we had a good hit.

“I played well and was hitting the ball great but he still gave me an absolute pumping down the middle. It was more fun for him than it was for me!

“It’s incredible. When you think the guy’s got a metal hip and everything he’s been through. He’s still got the same drive, the same desire.

“It’s great to be around him on big stages like this when he’s had such good memories on Rod Laver. To be hitting with him before the tournament is pretty cool.”

O’Mara and the Murray brothers are not the only Scots competing in Melbourne. Teenage prospect Matt Rankin is involved in the junior event and O’Mara, a Tennis Scotland mentor, believes the future looks bright for the sport.

“Andy and Jamie’s legacy, Gordon Reid as well, they’ve created such a big legacy that it would be such a shame to not try to create something in Scotland on the back of that,” he adds.

“People ask if the chance has been missed, but these guys are still playing and still creating huge memories on tour.

“I’m around it and have a decent amount of influence back in Scotland to try and speak to juniors and try to create this tennis culture that I think will help them.

“We’ve got Matt Rankin, who is playing in the Aussie Juniors this year and that’s a great first step for him. Obviously there’s a long way to go for him but it’s great for him to be around this event, seeing what happens in the players’ lounge.

“I’m sure he’ll soak that up and if he can go back to Scotland and go on court with other guys, maybe he’s now a step up and that’s the culture you want to bring. Matt coming here then going back to Stirling or Craiglockhart and asking for a bit more from the players in Scotland.

“There are lots of good tennis players in college in Scotland, so you never know what can happen there, and there are a few juniors under the age of 14 who look like they can be decent tennis players.

“I think that’s the age group that they are looking to see how much of an impact [Murrays’ successes] there has been on the kids coming through.

“The National Player Programme is good. Charlie Robertson is playing lots of good tennis. It’s interesting to see what will happen in the next few years.”

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