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‘Andy is a legend – Cam is a machine’ – Rising star Paul Jubb on an amazing year for British tennis
Working with Andy Murray and watching other British stars claim trophies galore this year has got the youngster wanting ATP Tour glory
Paul Jubb is the latest player to be added to Team England for Jamie Murray’s brainchild, the Battle of the Brits. The fourth edition of the exhibition tournament takes place in Aberdeen, Scotland, just before Christmas, and the 22-year-old joins Dan Evans, Neal Skupski and Joe Salisbury in the squad.
Jubb’s association with the Murray family is by now well-known; signed up by Andy’s management company 77, and now an ellesse athlete, the Hull youngster is tipped for big things in the next few years. He’s shown a great deal of potential in 2021, his first full year as a pro – winning a tour-leading five titles on the ITF circuit, most recently the M25 in Harlingen.
He spoke exclusively to Tennis Majors about adjusting to life as a full-time pro, how he’s been inspired by the achievements of Cameron Norrie and Emma Raducanu – and what he thinks about Andy Murray’s persistence on the comeback trail.
You're having a really good few weeks, aren't you?
Yeah! It’s been a really good last few months, I’ve been able to win a lot of matches, which has been good, and have a bit of success. I’m really happy with kind of the momentum I’ve been able to build up.
You’d said last year it had been quite nice to have a few weeks off, to have a bit of time to relax and recharge, but you've obviously got back to the court really raring to go now.
I’ve been in the groove. I don’t want to lose any of the hard work I’ve been putting in and I’ve been on a nice little roll. So I just want to keep it up and keep progressing and just keep building.
How much have you been able to compete this past year with the restrictions on travel?
I’ve done 17 tournaments, I think, this year – I’ve been to Portugal, the States, Egypt at the beginning of the year. It’s been a good first full year on tour really. It’s been nice to be seeing the sun!
So what's life on tour like? Does it feel different?
Yeah, it’s been definitely different in some aspects. I mean, when it’s a full year, some weeks are tougher than others and some weeks motivation is maybe not as high. It varies quite a bit. So learning to manage that, I think, is one thing that I can continue to do and having my experience now is, is definitely good. I think that’s one of the main things for sure – just being more knowledgeable of how the year can look and knowing when to maybe hold back a little bit and when to make a little push and understanding yourself, maybe this week is not the best week to extend, or whatever, get back to base, a little relax, and then go straight back at it. Managing your year is very important.
Emma Raducanu and Cameron Norrie have both had fantastic years in singles, but very different ones – Emma won the US Open by having a brilliant three weeks, Cam got to the ATP Finals because of his consistency. What do you think you can learn from your compatriots?
That’s what makes tennis unique – if you have that consistency throughout the year, you can still do really well or you can, as Emma did, have one unbelievable tournament. That can also just make the whole year great in itself anyway.
You’ve just got to keep working hard throughout the whole year and see what happens, try to be as consistent as you can. You never know if you’re going to have one of those great outstanding tournaments which sets you up massively. Cam is a machine. He is so good at going in week in week out, keeping that same consistency.
You said you don't know if you’re going to have one of those amazing weeks, but there's a famous interview with Cam now where he said at the start of the year that he backed himself to do well this year – he knew that he would. Do you feel like that ever, going into a tournament or a part of the season?
You definitely have a gut feeling when you know – you feel how things are going. You always need that belief in yourself. First, to succeed, you always need to have that belief that you can do well. I definitely have that. I definitely know deep down I can do really good things, and back myself on any given day. But you never know until you do it, really. I think the main thing is just having that belief in yourself and having that trust in the work you put in and give yourself the opportunity to do well. I remember watching that interview, when he said he’d like to back himself to have a breakout year. I think that’s really, really good to see – having that confidence in himself.
Everyone must be working hard on tour, but to believe that you can be the one to make that breakout must be really difficult – you’re travelling every week, getting your team right, going into each tournament, not quite knowing what's going to happen. You have to have your headspace right – that must be something that you've had to develop this year very quickly.
Yeah, for sure. Your headspace can be in a totally different place from one week to the other. So trying to keep a clear mind and keep your thought process as clear as possible and staying calm is something really important and something that will help you keep that kind of consistency and give you that opportunity to do well on the court. Tennis is such a mental sport. You’ve got to work physically hard, but mentally it’s such a tough sport as well, and that’s where the differences show. If you can kind of have that mental edge over your peers who you’re competing against, that can go a long way.
And there was a great quote from you earlier in the year saying that you didn't want Andy to retire yet because you still want to play him and beat him – or words to that effect!
It’s just sharing the court with him, being able to practice with him – those are definitely things I cherish, for sure. He’s a legend and you want to see someone like that play for as long as they can. It’s really good to see him get that extra bit of life, having the success he’s had recently, winning some big matches. He is back on the up and he has found that extra burner, that spark, again, so that’s really good to see. It’s really nice to watch him try and prove to everyone that he’s not done yet and can’t rule him out. That’s what champions are made of, and it’s showing that he is a real true champion.
Looking ahead to next year, do you set ambitions or are you taking it one week at a time at the moment?
The big one is I just want to play more Challengers, get out of the ITF circuit, making that next leap, giving myself the opportunity to earn more ranking points and for the whole year make that push – hopefully just get better and better and to just keep making strides like I have done this year.
And what are your plans for Christmas and New Year?
Christmas and New Year I’ll hopefully be home. Definitely looking forward to that, I love Christmas with the family, and definitely one of my favourite times of the year. As much as I love putting in the hard work and seeing my progression, I also love being able to have that downtime and cherish those moments as well, which is just as important.
- Battle of the Brits takes place on December 21-22, at P&J Live, Aberdeen
- Paul Jubb is an Ellesse athlete