Column: Resurgent Andy Murray two matches away

January 26, 2010, 05:11 PM | Community Column | Andrew Hunter
If ever there was a win to cement your belief that Andy Murray will one day become a grand slam champion, that was it. Wow!

Andy Murray did not obliterate Rafael Nadal by any means, but his maturity and confidence shone as brightly as the fireworks that sparked in the Melbourne skyline. Off his racquet, his forehand was impressive as it was in their 2008 US Open encounter, flattened out and hit with real gusto. His backhand, proving to be his signature stroke and in my opinion, the best backhand on display in the ATP today, was even more devastating. It delivered winner after winner, stood up well to Nadal's cross-court forehand which is famously laced with spin, and created space for Murray to arrow winners into. Oh, and how nice to see the British number one approach the net on break points to mix it up.

In the mental department, I thought our boy was absolutely colossal. From the thirteen aces fired down past Nadal, the vast majority of them came on crucial points. Nadal carved out twelve break point opportunities, but due to Murray's clutch play and controlled aggression, he could only convert on two of them. It was this coolness under pressure that made me nod my head in admiration, and say 'this guy is destined to win a Slam'. When I look back on previous encounters, it has been Nadal who has shown these battling qualities, so it was very pleasing to see Murray slam the door shut on most of the Spaniard's break point opportunities.

Condemned by many keyboard warriors on the Internet, as a 'pusher', or a 'junkballer', it was extremely satisfying to see Murray hit through Nadal with regularity, and a startling reminder that Murray is arguably the most versatile tennis player around at the moment.

It was disappointing to see Rafa retire early and end the match prematurely, but the defending champion was visibly upset with his knee injury. Sadly, it is becoming all too common, to read of injuries sustained by Nadal, and I hope he is back to thrill us all as soon as possible.

Looking ahead to the semi-final match with Cilic is relatively more straightforward. You know what you are getting with the Croatian, massive serve, massive groundstrokes, and on the evidence of the last 10 days, a real fighter. Lest not forget how easily Murray succumbed to him last September, but lest not also forget the circumstances which surrounded the match. Cilic is on the form of his young career at the moment, but I think Murray will be fully focused on the match ahead, and being the fresher player, should progress. Murray will be out to prove a point, and if the tactics are appropriate, I think we will be watching the Scot in his second career grand slam final, who would have thought it? Not me, that is for sure.

Can he go all the way? Depends who he meets in the final. I sincerely hope it's Federer.
Community Column | Andrew Hunter
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add comment | 17 comments
I definitely did not expect this showing from Murray here.  To have reached the semis without dropping a set is an achievement in itself.  If he can maintain this focus and consistency you can't help but think he has a more than decent shot at his first GS title.  I think I'll honestly cry buckets if he wins this.  Humble pie will never taste so good.  Very Happy  

Oh, and yes.  I also hope his victory is over Fed.
January 26, 2010, 05:22 PM
By Elly

I definitely did not expect this showing from Murray here.  To have reached the semis without dropping a set is an achievement in itself.  If he can maintain this focus and consistency you can't help but think he has a more than decent shot at his first GS title.  I think I'll honestly cry buckets if he wins this.  Humble pie will never taste so good.  Very Happy 

Oh, and yes.  I also hope his victory is over Fed.

What was it you were saying after the Hopman Cup again? Wink
January 26, 2010, 05:25 PM
By Sir Panda

What was it you were saying after the Hopman Cup again? Wink
I know, Andrew, but I really did think it at the time.  I've no problem saying I was a *****, though.....  lol 
January 26, 2010, 05:27 PM
By Elly

Don't blame you, but I think playing the HC was a much smarter decision. No jet-lag, more time to adjust to the climate, etc.
January 26, 2010, 05:28 PM
By Sir Panda

I was also elated to watch the display which you described so well.  It was obviously impressive that Andy was able to successfully implement the SV on break points, but moreso imo when he started to use it in less dire circumstances, mostly at the later stages in the match, where the aggressiveness takes more effort to summon.
I think Fed is the player now with the highest likelihood of stopping Andy, but assuming it works out that I hope he will be relishing the challenge as well as the opportunity for revenge.  So looking forward to the next few days...
January 26, 2010, 05:30 PM
By murray_tmg

tender How I hope Thursday brings a new colomn under the heading 'Murray one match away'....
I'm beyond excited, how I can be expected to carry on at school as normal, I really don't know!

And I agree, beating Fed would be the pinacle, I'm not sure if he will truly be accepted as an amazing player until he wins a slam beating Federer in the final, and unfortunately because of his nationality, I doubt the people of Britain will value him until he wins a Wimbledon title, but hey I'll be just as excited wherever it happens...... nervous
January 26, 2010, 06:18 PM
By Shooting Star

Don't blame you, but I think playing the HC was a much smarter decision. No jet-lag, more time to adjust to the climate, etc.

Playing the Hopman Cup showed he knows his own mind, even though he knew the consequences. Dropped to no. 5, below Pony - which must have been hard to swallow - so he could get in three guaranteed singles. Shows a certain single-minded focus, don't you think?
January 26, 2010, 06:35 PM
By Grabcopy

Playing the Hopman Cup showed he knows his own mind, even though he knew the consequences. Dropped to no. 5, below Pony - which must have been hard to swallow - so he could get in three guaranteed singles. Shows a certain single-minded focus, don't you think?
Oh, forsooth. yes
January 26, 2010, 07:00 PM
By Mark

Playing the Hopman Cup showed he knows his own mind, even though he knew the consequences. Dropped to no. 5, below Pony - which must have been hard to swallow - so he could get in three guaranteed singles. Shows a certain single-minded focus, don't you think?
It's also about not being anal about being ranked #4 or #5. He's already been #2 lest we forget. There's a much bigger picture over the next two to three years and Andy wants to have won that 1st major before Federer and an injury-prone Nadal decline as well as getting the "it's been 70-odd years since..." monkey off his back.

I was confident as soon as he played Gicquel that this was a superb opportunity to win his 1st major.

Playing the Hopman Cup has proven to have been a real masterstroke and seeing him relaxed and smiling almost constantly when he's off court is almost the final piece in the jigsaw which should hopefully see him over the line come Sunday.
January 26, 2010, 07:10 PM
By pggtips

Oh gettin excited just thinking about Thursday...don't know how I'm going to cope till then lol
January 26, 2010, 09:58 PM
By Hazybear

add comment | 17 comments
Shenzhen Open: 22 - 28 September
How many Grand Slams will Murray win in his career?
1-2
3-5
6-8
9+