Murray's touchpaper finally lights up O2

By for MurraysWorld.com on
On Bonfire Night, Andy Murray’s blue touchpaper finally lit in a stuttering, faltering effort against world number six Tomas Berdych. The match, the first in the round-robin stages of the World Tour Finals at the O2, demonstrated the importance of the first serve, which the Scot finally found in set three, to run out a 3-6 6-3 6-4 winner.

This encounter was pretty much do or die, with the loser facing the prospect of a survival match against new world number one, Novak Djokovic, in the Boris Becker-styled “group of death”.

Murray began in fine style, sweeping away the first point of the match for a backhand service-return winner. It was a false dawn. With a first-serve strike rate of just 45% and a startling inability to convert numerous break points, the US Open champion conceded his serve at 2-3 amid a welter of lame netted forehands.

With the Czech star serving at 5-3, Murray again fought his way to break points, only to be denied by powerhouse serving and some stupendous drive volleys that will surely have made the Czech’s coach, Tomas Krupa, consider building in more net forays to their training plans. Berdych sealed the game with a swinging forehand out wide, leaving Murray to reflect on six unconverted break points and 11 unforced forehand errors.

Set two was a mirror image of the first, with Murray finally taking Berdych’s serve on his tenth break point of the match to lead 3-1. The Scot was now playing on his own terms, outmanoeuvring Berdych like a cat dancing around a Panzer tank.

The British number one continued to swing Berdych wide and pull him in short, turning the big Czech inside out with hitting that was by turns wide and deep, then teasing and short. The Scot served out at 5-3 to set up a must-win, one-set shootout that would surely decide the fate of both men at this tournament.

Murray fans needn’t have worried. The Scot’s first serve came alive in spectacular fashion, with a flurry of service winners and aces and an astonishing 100% first-serve success rate. Murray broke at 2-1, moving the match sweetly from heavy artillery to pomp and artistry.

From here, the world number three never looked in serious trouble, although a double-fault stumble at 5-4, 40-15 when serving out the match reminded fans of his recent difficulties in converting match points. Obligingly, though, Berdych settled the crowd’s nerves with a weak netted backhand at 40-30 and Murray was punching the air in delight, knowing that his qualification was half achieved.

Murray has a strong record against Tsonga. However, he’ll be motivated to go all-out against Djokovic, too, to try to remove him from the tournament – and rack up another 200 precious ranking points into the bargain.
Massive result this. Started slow but from 1-1 second set he found some of his best stuff. Serving was brilliant in that final set, never gave Berdych a chance to fight back.

Who does he face next - is it the winner or loser of the other tie?
November 05, 2012, 04:40 PM
By TheMadHatter

Missed a lot of opportunities in the first set though. That was a bit sad to see though Berdych served really well when he was down a couple of times. Gutsy performance by Berdych, but greater performance by Andy to come through, especially after losing the first set to one of his biggest rivals in a big tournament like this one.
November 05, 2012, 05:04 PM
By Emma Jean

So relieved he won it...Phew!
November 05, 2012, 05:04 PM
By Sabine

Good to see Andy work his way into a tough match against a tough component.  I'm hoping that work out will set him up well for the other matches given he came in with so few competitive matches under his belt since Shanghai.
I think he faces the winner of the other tie, someone said on another thread over the w/e and that's certainly what happened 2 years ago.
November 05, 2012, 05:06 PM
By Ruthie

The main problem was the break points....that was really poor.
But the main thing is that he was able to come back and that is what is more important..
November 05, 2012, 05:06 PM
By Sabine

well on the whole I think it was more a case of Birdy winning those break points than Andy losing them . Birdy's serve was really on song in that opening set once he'd settled into the match.
November 05, 2012, 05:07 PM
By Ruthie

well on the whole I think it was more a case of Birdy winning those break points than Andy losing them . Birdy's serve was really on song in that opening set once he'd settled into the match.

I agree Ruthie - on many of those break points Berdych served so well that there was nothing Andy could do.  It must have been incredibly frustrating!
November 05, 2012, 05:13 PM
By Alis

A win is a win... one more and progression should be safe.
November 05, 2012, 05:13 PM
By boogers

That was some intense stuff.

Berdych came out with a masterplan and a bionic serve, but Andy returned like The Terminator in the 2nd, and entrenched himself deeply with a will to win in the 3rd.

Congrats to Andy, and here's to the next match. clap
November 05, 2012, 05:13 PM
By scotnadian

Berdych's serves were compromised at the Open so first thing he made sure this time he served very, very well.
November 05, 2012, 05:16 PM
By Emma Jean

Really enjoyed reading the match report, real poetry, and summed up the match to perfection. Andy showed his fighting spirit despite a slow start against an inspired opponent. Andy will feel more confident in his next match and I believe that he can beat Nole if that is who he will face. Nole has to beat Tsonga. It will depend where Nole's mind is re his Father and his illness.
November 05, 2012, 05:20 PM
By michelle

Berdych's serves were compromised at the Open so first thing he made sure this time he served very, very well.
He especially served well when facing break points.  But what else does he have? Answer, nothing.
November 05, 2012, 05:29 PM
By Mackem

I was VERY disappointed with the crowds reaction when Andy came out on court and it was frankly a bit pathetic the whole way through.  Good job Andy. 
November 05, 2012, 05:35 PM
By Tessie

I sensed a lot of tension and uncertainty.  Might have been different if Andy had converted some break points and won the 1st Set.  But, yeah, it was quiet for sure.  If I'd been there I'd have started a bit of cheerleading!
November 05, 2012, 05:38 PM
By Mackem

He especially served well when facing break points.  But what else does he have? Answer, nothing.

Of course Berdych has much more to offer. No one gets a big win over a big player on serve alone and on more than one occasion. It's a misconception and it undermines a player's all other abilities.

I’d say Berdych concentrated on his serve a bit too much today and should have had a better game-plan than that. Players always tend to remember the last meeting and sometimes that can get in the way of a more concise plan. It’s not about revenge but about winning the match. The former will be achieved too once you get the latter.
November 05, 2012, 05:45 PM
By Emma Jean

I think he faces the winner of the other tie, someone said on another thread over the w/e and that's certainly what happened 2 years ago.

I should have thought that Andy would have to face the loser of tonight's tie not the winner. That would provide a far greater match-up for the spectators.

Thank goodness Andy won - well done our man!

This victory will put Berdych's nose out of joint as he was convinced that the only reason AM won their semi match at the USO was due to the wind. Berdych assured himself that otherwise he, TB would have beaten Andy.
November 05, 2012, 05:55 PM
By OldScotSupport

I should have thought that Andy would have to face the loser of tonight's tie not the winner. That would provide a far greater match-up for the spectators.

Thank goodness Andy won - well done our man!

This victory will put Berdych's nose out of joint as he was convinced that the only reason AM won their semi match at the USO was due to the wind. Berdych assured himself that otherwise he, TB would have beaten Andy.

Not too much wind in the O2.
November 05, 2012, 06:03 PM
By Grabcopy

what a pleasure to watch Andy's victory to day !!
November 05, 2012, 06:16 PM
By LIBANY

Not too much wind in the O2.

No a bit of hot air though.
November 05, 2012, 06:28 PM
By Tessie

Loved the match report, having read the whole thing now Nigel though perhaps didn't give birdy enough credit for saving all those break points. On reflection it strikes me as a good sign that when playing far from his best Andy beat a player who has caused him so many problems in the past.  I think up until this year Andy would have lost this match.
According to Marcus Buckland Andy does play tonight's winner.  I agree I don't see the logic of that. In particular should Nole win tonight, wouldn't it be better to save the big rivalry match till last day of group A's round?
Oh and I agree that the crowd was disappointingly subdued.  The comms were saying Andy needed to involve them more but jesus if I was there I wouldn't need Andy to involve me.  I'd be involved from the moment he walked on court.  You don't think it's been infiltrated by fed fans do you?  Or sedate wimbledon types?  shocking
November 05, 2012, 06:29 PM
By Ruthie

add comment | 40 comments