HAVING last year gained the title of the Prince of San Diego, Jonny O’Mara now wants to become the King of New York.

A clutch of leading tennis players may have withdrawn from the US Open due to safety concerns but for doubles specialist O’Mara it represents another opportunity to build on recent grand slam improvements.

The Scot and partner Marcelo Arevalo paired up for the first time at this event last year and took the scalp of the No.6 seeds on their way to the last 16. The duo went one stage further at the Australian Open at the start of 2020 as they progressed to the quarter-finals by upsetting the seventh and 12th seeds.

That momentum has been halted due to the pandemic but O’Mara hopes there were enough positive signs early in the partnership with Arevalo to suggest another run deep into the tournament is not beyond them.

“I’m not all that worried about the safety aspect of it,” the 25-year-old said. “I’m just grateful to be able to get back out there again. It’s another opportunity to play in a big event and there have been no real withdrawals from the doubles so it’s still going to be really competitive.

“But it’s in our minds what we did in New York last year and how we performed in Australia and there’s no reason why we can’t do it again.

“It will be nice to have a good tournament here and then look forward to the French Open and see what we can do there. And maybe we can sneak into the ATP Finals in London which would be great.”

With Arevalo based in Florida and O’Mara spending much of lockdown in Edinburgh, chances for the pair to train together have been few and far between. Add in the fact that Toby Smith, O’Mara’s coach, is stuck in China and will not make it to New York, then it has made for a difficult preparation.

But the Arbroath man is confident he and Arevalo will quickly find their rhythm.

“The partnership is going great, we get on really well and our style together on court works perfectly,” he said. “He lives in Florida where they didn’t shut their courts so I’m hoping he can lead us to a good run as he’s been playing a lot more than me. So I’ll put that pressure on him!

“The US Open last year was the first time we started out as a pairing. We had a good run there and then he had a baby and decided to take a bit of a back seat from the tour. After that we didn’t play again until Australia. So we’ve not actually played that many tournaments together. But we’ve still got a pretty good record already and we’ll look to build on it."

Despite all the restrictions, O’Hara has still been able to play some tennis this summer. He took part in the first edition of the Battle of the Brits event organised by Jamie Murray and revealed the sense of camaraderie around the group has never been better.

“The guys have always been close and there’s some very British banter that players from the other countries don’t really understand,” added the world No.54. “I find it funny – although I’m sure a lot of other people wouldn’t! We always hang out together at tournaments and what Jamie did this year for the players by putting on the events was class. That brought us a lot closer together. There’s been a lot of chat on the group chat and I’m looking forward to the tennis starting so we can offer support rather than ripping each other all the time!”

O’Hara also travelled to The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia to represent the San Diego Aviators in the second edition of World Team Tennis, having gained a regal nickname the first time around.

“I was playing last year with a guy called Darian King who was the King of San Diego. So I became the Prince of San Diego. I love it over there. It’s a great format and a lot of fun to play in. Plus it took place only a four or five-hour drive away from New York so having experience of those conditions will come in handy.”

And what will he be wearing this week when he is not on court?

“The new Arbroath strip just arrived randomly in the post the other day with O’Mara and number 33 on the back. So that was the first thing that went into the suitcase. I’ll be wearing that out and about in New York.”