Undercooked Murray mastered in Miami heat

By for MurraysWorld.com on
The mercury in Miami touched 30°C, but Murray's underused game looked undercooked today against Novak Djokovic. The Scot went down 6-1 7-6 in a patchy display against a relentless world number one.

Tennis observers talk endlessly about match sharpness. And, with Murray gatecrashing the Sony Ericsson Open on the back of a bye and two walkovers, rarely has it been demonstrated so starkly.

In a match of two halves played in dripping humidity, the two old friends opened proceedings with a heavy dose of respectful probing. Every cross-court drive from Murray was answered with a down-the-line Exocet from the Serb; drop shots were measured rather than inspired.

It was an opening that reflected the men's careers, which once ran along parallel lines. Then, in game four, Djokovic broke free from his moorings, just as he had done last year, leaving Murray to run himself ragged on the baseline and wonder why he didn't ditch the gluten a year earlier.

But it was Murray who first upped the ante, ramping up some explosive, net-strafing groundshots at 1-2. The effect was to tug the tiger's tail, with Djokovic roaring back with incredible footspeed and pounding backcourt play to take the first break.

From there, the Serb put pedal to metal, looking by far the more solid and taking around half the time of the British number one over his service games.

The human backboard wrapped up the first set in short time, resembling every inch the battle-hardened warrior from the Crandon Park frontline. Despite extended practice time, Murray was merely the bleary-eyed Virtua Tennis 3 refugee from the players' lounge.

As the first set drew to its inevitable conclusion, it seemed that the Scot's body was on duty, whilst his mind was hunting designer gear down at the Bel Harbour Mall.

Having used set one to get his game into shape, with the usual suspects – body language, second serve and forehand – missing in action, Murray perked up for set two.

On display were more creativity, a welter of wide forehand drives, resolute defence and a heavier serve from the world number four. This bout of creativity wrought deadlock from the two men, who propelled themselves through pulsating exchanges to the fulcrum of a tiebreak.

But from here, Murray was always in catch-up mode, having opened with consecutive backhands into the net. Djokovic was merciless with his width, depth and power and, while the Scot clawed back two points from 5-2, the strength of the Serb's serving saw him through.

Despite reports to the contrary, Murray must hope for a packed schedule as the tour moves onto the clay. Meanwhile, Djokovic simply remains the master, with his peers hunting down slingshots hurled pitilessly at a baseline that recedes further with each passing event.
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commiserations to murray - just didn't really get his best going until the second set, and nole played bigger points just a little bit better today. lovely to see them both on the podium and hope murray climbs up so these two rule tennis!! come on murray keep up the great work!! that's two finals and a semifinal already at big events.  cmon yeah
April 01, 2012, 08:58 PM
By janetx

The mercury in Miami touched 30°C, but Murray's underused game looked undercooked today against Novak Djokovic. The Scot went down 6-1 7-6 in a patchy display against a relentless world number one.

[More to follow]

It was really close in the second set. if he hadn't done that double fault I reckon he might have won the second set and gone on to win. Just a couple of points in it really - wish he had more killer instinct.
April 01, 2012, 08:59 PM
By MT

Started poor, lack of match play? Maybe. Still 600 points better than last year. Anyone know what the Fed looses or gains from Miami. 

BTW did anyone else notice how Novak forgot about the match he played against Andy in Dubai - oh yes it was the one he lost maybe thats why lol.
April 01, 2012, 09:05 PM
By Tessie

Andy does not seem to have a 'killer instinct'.. no matter how he tries.. and no matter who he brngs into his 'camp.'
April 01, 2012, 09:08 PM
By scotnadian

Andy does not seem to have a 'killer instinct'.. no matter how he tries.. and no matter who he brngs into his 'camp.'


That's very harsh. You don't get to no.4 in the world lacking that attribute. Clearly the lack of matches and worked against Andy but I get the feeling Andy and Ivan will do their upmost to ensure that they will work their damnedest to better the 2011 clay court result.

Today was a bad day in the office. It happens.

1 GS SF and 2 finals so far is not bad going so far. The is plenty of tennis left to play.
April 01, 2012, 09:20 PM
By syc23

A lucky day for Djoker as Andy was not 100%.  There was some great playing, just a few too may misses. I don't think Andy's going to be devastated over this at all.
April 01, 2012, 09:31 PM
By adb..OH

Disapppointed but not surprised.  Lack of matches both at IW and here showed.  Really weird tournament though for any player to have two w/os, and also Djokovic's last three matches followed exactly the same pattern, which suggested a dip in his form.  Just a pity Andy couldn't have taken advantage of it.

But to those who wish to slate Andy - just exactly where was he this time in 2010/2011?  Nowhere!  Now he's reached two finals since the AO.  I'm just grateful that we aren't watching him drag himself out of yet another slump and, with Lendl as his coach, I look forward to what I hope will be a fruitful clay-court season and beyond.
April 01, 2012, 09:41 PM
By Aileen

me too Aileen , disappointed but not surprised really.

Andy looked like he had just got out of bed in that 1st set , and the 2nd , well Novak is #1 for a reason , just too good at times.
April 01, 2012, 09:48 PM
By ljs

But to those who wish to slate Andy - just exactly where was he this time in 2010/2011?  Nowhere!  Now he's reached two finals since the AO.  I'm just grateful that we aren't watching him drag himself out of yet another slump and, with Lendl as his coach, I look forward to what I hope will be a fruitful clay-court season and beyond.

Good point Aileen - this time last year was such a bad time for Andy fans. He looked so disinterested that it was becoming hard to imagine him even winning matches yet alone titles. This year is so different - he's fighting in matches. A year ago he would never have won the Tipsarevic match for example. And today he fought hard in the second set and came close to winning it.
April 01, 2012, 09:50 PM
By Katie

V much agree Aileen.  I did think it put him at a real disadvantage having had so little match play and we know Andy often takes time to work his way into a tournament.  What was disappointing though was that he seemed to revert to his old ways for much of the time - standing way behind the baseline and coming into the net only 6X.  No doubt Mr L will point that out to him.  What was good was that he really fought that 2nd set and I do think had he won it, it could have turned the match around.  Nole acknowledged as much.
And yes Tessie I did notice that Nole conveniently forgot the Dubai match.  He also said that Andy had been at the top of the game for a couple of years whereas it's more like 3-4 years.
Anyway I hope Andy won't lose too much sleep over this one.  Onwards and upwards into the clay court season.  And as Aileen pointed out we'd have given our eye teeth for him to be in this situation ie in a final this time last couple of years.
So inevitably disappointed as I think he could have beaten Nole tonight had he been playing closer to his best.  The fact he pushed him so close in the 2nd set when he wasn't is cause for hope next time.
April 01, 2012, 09:51 PM
By Ruthie

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