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1  Pages / Columns / A look back at 2005 - part 2 on: December 04, 2005, 04:18 pm
Early April saw another first round defeat in qualifying, this time to Luzzi at the ATP event in Valencia. There followed a somewhat surprising defeat to the Irish player Kevin Sorensen in the semi-final of a Futures event in Italy. Andy's ranking was little changed from the start of the year and hopes of getting into qualifying for Roland Garros were fading away.

But one opportunity had come Andy's way - his first match on the main ATP tour. Sanchez-Casal had used their influence to acquire a wildcard for Andy into the maindraw at the prestigious ATP tour event at Barcelona. In the first round Andy would face Jan Hernych, a steady, if unspectacular, top 100 player.

Court 4 was perhaps not the most glamourous of settings for this occasion - no seating meant spectators had to use their imagination. With reigning US Open champion and fellow Sanchez-Casal academy member Svetlana Kuznetsova cheering from the sidelines, mum Judy sat on a dustbin lid and the video analyst on a step ladder, Andy began in determined fashion.

The first set was fiercely contested. Breakpoint opportunities were missed by both players in the early games until Andy eventually struck to lead 4-2 then broke again to win the set 6-3. At the start of the second set Hernych broke and looked in control at 4-2 only for Andy to recover the break then lose it again and the set 4-6.

By the time of the third set fitness was beginning to play a part. After almost 2hrs of play Andy was suffering from cramp and yet he broke to lead 3-1, was broken, then had to 2 break points to regain control of the set. He could take neither. Hernych got the decisive break in the next game and won the match 3-6 6-4 6-4 despite winning fewer points overall.

So another defeat for Andy but one that would reassure him that he still had the ability to make it as a tennis player. Typically Andy was furious with himself for wasting so many opportunities.

"I probably played well for about six or seven points of the entire match," Murray said. "That was a terrible, terrible performance from me. I had plenty of chances in that match, and just didn't take them. That was probably down to inexperience from me. I was too defensive and played some stupid shots on the big points. I had expected to win. Hernych is nothing special."

"I've got a very good chance to get to the top, as I'm only 17 and this guy was about 75 in the world," he said. "I didn¿t play my best match and I still could have won. I didn't play well at all today. I need to improve my physical strength because that let me down a bit toward the end of the third set."

The rest of April and May was dominated by the disintegrating relationship between player and coach. The lack of results leading to continual disagreements about the style of play Andy should adopt. Pato Alvarez's motivational criticism produced a response, though perhaps not the desired one; Andy fired him.

“We were arguing a lot,” Murray revealed. “The last week we were together, it got a bit nasty. He was saying bad things about my tennis and bad things about me. I don’t really need somebody that negative in my corner just now. So I thought the best thing for me to do was to stop with him. He said if I continue like I have been the last two months, I’m not going to be any good.”

The junior event at Roland Garros was viewed with mixed feelings by Andy who had been anticipating playing against the best players in the world, not having to return to a world he thought he had left behind. He made it through a couple of close matches in the early rounds before finding his form to beat Juan Martin Del Potro, a rising star at junior level.

In the semi-final against Cilic, Andy served for the first set, got broken and proceeded to lose both his temper and the match in a spectacular meltdown packed full of bad language and broken racquets.
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2  Pages / Columns / A look back at 2005 - part 1 on: December 03, 2005, 03:51 pm
Andy started the year optimistic that he could break through into the top 100. Whilst still eligible to play juniors it was decided that he was ready for the challenge of the professional game. He had already enjoyed considerable success at Futures level in 2004, winning four tournaments in Spain and Italy so there were high hopes both in the UK and at Sanchez-Casal, his training base in Barcelona, that he was good enough to make a rapid rise.

Ranked just outside the top 400 there was no chance of joining the elite in Australia for the first grand slam event of the season. Instead his coach Pato Alvarez took him to Chile to compete in the qualifying rounds for the Challenger events in La Serena and Santiago played on Clay.

The initial plan was to use these tournaments as a warm up for attempting to qualify for the ATP event at Vina del Mar at the beginning of February but Andy didn't make it through to the main draw in either of the two events, losing to Marin in the final qualifying round of La Serena and then Parada in the opening qualifying round at Santiago; hardly the start they had expected and Vina del Mar disappeared off the agenda.

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An unexpected growth spurt seemed to be causing Andy problems as his body readjusted itself to his new height. February was a month of rest, just a single event at Futures level that Andy entered at the last minute after a change of plans, and so had to play qualifying. Continuing the pattern of the year he failed to make it through to main draw - this time retiring in the final round.

The Davis Cup tie against Israel gave Andy an opportunity to kickstart his season. He partnered David Sherwood in the doubles against Erlich and Ram in a match that few expected the brits to win. But Andy started the match on fire, driving a fierce return for a winner and the pair went on to gain a sensational victory 6-4 7-6(5) 2-6 7-6(5), helping Great Britain to win the tie.

March saw more qualifying for clay court Challenger events this time at Barletta and Napoli in Italy. Wins over Abel and Petrazzuolo gained Andy his first place in the main draw of an event in 2005. He eased past Arnaud Di Pasquale 6-4 6-3 only to lose heavily to Di Mauro in the 2nd round.

Then in Napoli Julio Silva beat Andy in the first round of qualifying to complete a frustrating and extremely disappointing opening 3 months. High expectations at the start of the year made this period of little progress all the more difficult to take. Plans were continually being revised as Andy's inability to improve his ranking denied him the opportunity to compete in the events they had imagined.

The choice of Pato Alvarez, a highly experienced and successful coach, to accompany Andy during this first phase of his career was beginning to look like a mistake. The lack of harmony between the pair off-court, due largely to the considerable age gap between coach and player, was making life on tour a real struggle for Andy and contributing to his poor displays on court.

At the end of March the top 100 seemed a long way off and already there were whispers in the UK that the outspoken teenager was somewhat overrated.
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3  General Community / Entourage / Judy Murray - One of Scotland's 100 hottest dates on: November 29, 2005, 12:43 am
Scotland on Sunday's definitive list of the 100 hottest dates in the country includes one Judy Murray, former Scotland national tennis coach and now tennis gossip columnist for the Sunday Telegraph, where she reveals all of her son Andy's darkest secrets.

http://news.scotsman.com/scotland.cfm?id=2270812005

Judy, described as "feisty, funny and full of passion", is looking for someone "with a fit body, honesty, talent and a good sense of humour". But suitors beware: the 44-year-old tennis coach already has two men in her life - sons Andy and Jamie.

Also featured amongst the top 100 is a young tennis player in need of a haircut who can be somewhat critical of his mother's singing, especially when she has to act as his own personal taxi service.
4  Pages / Archive: News / LTA 'ruined' my brother - Murray on: November 28, 2005, 09:50 pm
Jamie was very impressive in the bits of the matches that I saw - I never saw his poor start to the Sherwood match.

But it is hard to believe he is 900 in the singles ranking. He looked a better player than Dave Sherwood for starters and he is ranked around the 300 mark.

Not sure I would want my brother to say I'd been ruined though. At worst the LTA have perhaps hindered his development as a tennis player. And he did spend a short while at the Sanchez-Casal academy but didn't enjoy it so came back to the UK.
5  General Community / Chit Chat / Explanation on: November 28, 2005, 07:18 pm
roflmao

I'm sure Andy will be enjoying 2 fansites declaring war on each other and will probably end up spending too much time on the web keeping up with developments when he should be training.

It is very much in keeping with Andy's temperament though. That willingness to do the unexpected, to take the fight to your opponent. Nevermind the occasional outburst against some perceived threat or criticism.

I doubt you'd get this sort of incident between Tim Henman sites. His reserved nature has a lot to be said for it.
6  Pages / Archive: News / Murray pushed out by Gonzalez on: October 29, 2005, 09:53 am
Match Analysis

In a high quality match, Andy's counterattacking style had little answer to the relentless, and at times outrageous, all out attack from Fernando Gonzalez.

Gonzalez's smart use of his huge forehand, striking it wide to the Murray backhand was the key to the match. Andy hits powerfully with his double-handed backhand but when stretched wide he takes one hand off the raquet and floats the ball back, often angling short shots that draw his opponent to the net.

This time Gonzalez was ready and would move forward in anticipation after every fierce forehand hit wide to Andy's backhand. It simply wasn't a contest. The floating defensive shot from Murray would be put away with ease.

For once Andy's returns of serve were not up to his usual standard. He had little joy returning the huge first serve, and surprisingly, struggled to get his return of the second serve in play. Gonzalez lost very few points on serve apart from the odd double fault, and his service games were often over in a flash.

The Murray drop shot that had won numerous points against Tomas Berdych was ineffective against Gonzalez, whose own drop shot was done to perfection. Of a dozen points featuring the shot from one or other of the players, Andy won just a single point.

Faced by such an attacking player Andy needed to serve well. On a fast indoor court a single break of serve is usually enough to win the set, placing huge importance on the quality and consistency of the serving. Though his first serve percentage was up on recent matches at just over 55%, it was evident that he was reducing the pace of many first serves in order to protect his vulnerable second serve. Over the course of the match this formula simply didn't add up. Andy's first serve gained fewer cheap points and Gonzalez got to take a swing at a large number of inviting second serves that weren't kicked wide enough, or hit hard enough to trouble him.

While Andy's performance was an improvement on his earlier matches against Henman and Berdych, against an opponent on form there was too little margin for error and a handful of careless shots were enough to lose him the match. Looking back, an easy smash placed just wide at 30-30 on the Gonzalez serve early in the match was more significant than it seemed at the time.  

A wonderful match to watch featuring breathtaking shotmaking from Gonzalez, but one that highlighted some of the weaknesses in Andy's game.  Fernando Gonzalez was superb on the day, and it took a great effort from Murray to win the second set, saving eight break points in a period of outstanding tennis at the beginning of the set. Sadly, his serve let him down at the start of the third set and the Gonzalez ran away with the victory.
7  Pages / Archive: News / Murray eases past Heuberger on: October 06, 2005, 12:49 am
The rules do not allow Andy to enter Stockholm, Moscow or Vienna as he is already on the direct entry list for Sacramento Challenger.

These tournaments were not an option available to him.

Similarly, Madrid Masters is not an option for Andy as he is already on the direct entry list for Kolding Challenger that week. He is not allowed to withdraw from one tournament to enter another if he is on the direct entry list. If he were on the alernate list or the list for qualifying things would be different.

Andy planned to enter 5 Challengers on the assumption that he wouldn't be able to play Bangkok (wildcard assumed to go to Andy went to Hewitt), that he was too far down the list of alternates for Madrid and Paris Masters.

When Udomchoke got into the Bangkok draw directly when lots of players withdrew, it meant there was a free wildcard for Andy and his run to the final changed everything. However, they had already put his name down for 3 Challengers and the deadline date (3 weeks in advance) had passed. Therefore he was committed to these tournaments. His only option was to withdraw and take a week's rest.

For the final 2 challengers the deadline date had not passed so the direct entry lists have not appeared and Andy is free to play ATP Basel/St Petersberg and Paris Masters qualifying should he wish to.
8  Pages / Archive: News / Andy Murray Denied Wild Card on: October 06, 2005, 12:39 am
Sorry but this report is incorrect.

Andy is already on the direct entry list for the Kolding Challenger that week so could not accept a wildcard even if it were given to him. Similarly he is not allowed to play qualifying for Madrid.

However, I'm sure they must have investigated whether a wildcard was a possibility prior to signing up for Kolding.

A player is not allowed to withdraw from one tournament to enter another if they are on the direct entry list. If they happen to be an alternate, they are allowed to change plans.
9  Pages / Archive: News / Murray marches on on: October 04, 2005, 01:10 am
Says Petchey in the same breath as making numerous comparisons to Roger Federer at the same age.

If he wanted to urge caution he might like to take a lead by saying things like - Dominic Hrbaty broke into the top 100 at a similar age and yet has never reached the top 10. Or he could mention a few of the many areas of his game that Andy will need to work on for him to ever get into the top 10 nevermind win a grand slam tournament.

Andy's rise is par for the course for players of his talent. Lots of players go from 350 to 50 in the world. Normally they might be 19 or 20 when it occurs but the rapid rise is fairly common. This is why his former coach mentioned the target of 50 by the end of the year.
10  General Community / Andy Talk / Murray vs Federer ** [Official Topic] ** on: October 03, 2005, 02:04 am
Despite Andy claiming he wants to play qualifying for Madrid Masters he is prevented from doing so because of the rules concerning tournament entries. Andy is already committed to playing Kolding Challenger that week and so cannot enter Madrid Masters.

In fact Andy is on the direct entry lists for Mons, Sacramento and Kolding Challengers over the next 3 weeks which means that he cannot play in any other tournaments those weeks. He could withdraw and take a week's rest should he wish to do so.

Paris Masters is still a possible. Most probably it would mean playing qualifying.
11  General Community / Andy Talk / Andy's ranking on: October 03, 2005, 01:57 am
Andy is ranked 72 on the entry ranking list.
12  Pages / Archive: News / Brave Murray falls to mighty Federer on: October 02, 2005, 04:16 pm
Match Analysis:

Against the very best it's a question of winning the point before they do.

Roger Federer is a better player than Andy right now and he won the match fairly comfortably. But there were some interesting pointers for the future. Could Andy win points rather than relying on Federer's errors? Did Andy have any weapons that could hurt Federer?

For most of the summer Andy has focused upon keeping the ball in play, making sure his unforced error count is low, and only taking the initiative when in trouble. This strategy was never likely to work against Roger Federer and indeed on those points where Andy missed his first serve or played tentative tennis, Roger's attacking groundstrokes were just too much.

But when Andy got his first serve in play he looked competitive at this level. He won numerous cheap points with unreturnable serves and was prepared to go for a winner whenever he received a short return. In fact, whenever Andy turned up the pace, striking fierce forehands deep across court or double-handed backhands down the line, Federer struggled.

For short spells Andy played superb tennis. Coming to the net to finish points, he hit some gorgeous angled volleys. He took on shots that he would normally avoid, and there were the usual trademark Murray shots like a glorious crosscourt pass that flew past Federer as he approached the net.

The potential to trouble Federer was there, just that the error count on low percentage shots was too high for Andy to be a match for Roger at this stage. In a couple of years' time it might be a very interesting contest, though Andy has a lot of work to do on his game in the intervening period.

In simple terms his second serve needs improvement: better direction - deeper and into the corners, more pace, more variety. His first serve needs to more reliable and he needs a lot of practice at playing attacking tennis.

As for the match, disappointingly, Andy made a poor start to both sets. He reached 40-15 on his opening service game then wasted 3 game point chances before surrendering his serve, as a series of second serves were punished. After that his standard of play was quite high, and in the second set he did recover the break. A tiebreak looked on the cards until a patchy service game gave Roger the chance to serve for the match. Andy responded to reach break point but couldn't force the break and a couple of serves later the match was over.

It was a good test for Andy and despite defeat he should leave Bangkok thinking, if he works hard, he has got a chance to compete at the highest level.
13  General Community / Andy Talk / Murray vs Federer ** [Official Topic] ** on: October 02, 2005, 12:26 am
I suspect that Federer will see in Andy a player not too dissimilar to what he was like at that age. And he will know the timescale for this type of player to turn into a contender. This is not to say that Andy will ever get to be as good as Federer or even close, but in no way is Andy your average top 100 player.

Few players break into the top 100 before they are 20. Those that do tend to make it into top 20. Sure you get the odd freak like Hewitt or Nadal that can get into the top 5 in their teens but others take a little time to mature both physically and mentally. Some players' games are richer, more sophisticated and take that bit longer to put all the pieces in place.

Andy's game is complex. It is not always clear what he is trying to do. Sometimes he appears to have too many options. But in time he will figure when to use each shot, when to play safe and when to attack.

So even if Roger doesn't regard Andy as much of a player now, he will realise that in one or two years' time Andy could well be a tough opponent at the later stages of a grand slam event.
14  General Community / Andy Talk / Murray vs Federer ** [Official Topic] ** on: October 01, 2005, 10:49 pm
I hope Andy attacks Federer but I can't see it being a close match. He isn't ready yet. In a couple of years' time perhaps. I would like to see if Andy has the weapons to hurt Federer so time to bring out all the big shots and just go for it.

Andy is in the draw for Mons Challenger. His first round opponent is Ivo Heuberger.

The cut off dates for direct entry lists for ATP tournaments is 6 weeks in advance. He is on the direct entry list for Mons, Sacremento and Kolding Challengers. In effect this means he cannot play in other tournaments in those weeks.

(1) Olivier Rochus (wc-Bel) vs Oliver Marach (Oos)
Arvind Parmar (Gbr) vs Teimiraz Gabashvili (Rus)
Lukasz Kubot (Pol) vs Frederic Niemeyer (Can)
Jean-René Lisnard (Fra) vs (5) Daniele Bracciali (Ita)
(3) Christophe Rochus (Bel) vs Simon Greul (Dui)
Q. vs Q.
Edouard Roger-Vasselin (Fra) vs Michael Berrer (Dui)
Marc Gicquel (Fra) vs (6) Jerome Haehnel (Fra)
(8) Dick Norman (Bel) vs Kristof Vliegen (Bel)
George Bastl (Zwi) vs Steve Darcis (wc-Bel)
Nicolas Mahut (Fra) vs Nicolas Devilder (Fra)
Q. vs (4) Ivo Karlovic (Kro)
(7) Andy Murray (Gbr) vs Ivo Heuberger (Zwi)
Gregory Carraz (Fra) vs Antony Dupuis (Fra)
Julien Benneteau (Fra) vs Q.
Stefan Wauters (wc-Bel) vs (2) Xavier Malisse (wc-Bel)
15  Pages / Archive: News / Murray reaches dream final on: October 01, 2005, 02:07 pm
Match analysis:

Do enough to win your service games and you can stay in the match.

Andy struggled throughout much of this match but only once did he lose his serve and that was in his very first service game when a woeful smash finished in the net to gift Srichaphan the early break. By staying in the match he gave himself a chance, and for once it was not Andy that tired towards the end but his opponent.

Srichaphan played some superb tennis at times, hitting big serves, attacking Andy's second serve with forcing backhands, and coming to the net to use his stop volley to great effect. But every so often Srichaphan would throw in a wild groundstroke and despite winning two or three points on nearly all of Andy's service games, that second break was elusive.

Andy's form was never quite there. Too many unforced errors off simple groundstrokes. Backhands that went long, forehands into the net. His first serve percentage was below 50% for long periods, his second serve looked vulnerable. And yet he survived, crafting some smart plays, unleashing a few fierce passing shots, and doing enough to keep Srichaphan at bay while winning few points against the Srichaphan serve.

And then the match turned. Serving to force a tiebreak in the second set Srichaphan's form deserted him. A double fault and a couple of stop volleys that didn't have enough to make it over the net and he had lost his serve to love.

The early part of the third set was fairly even. An injury timeout for Srichaphan and when the match restarted the strength had gone from his legs. It finished 6-2.

This was not Andy at his brilliant best, not even close. Srichaphan looked the class player. He had all the shots and in contrast much of Andy's play seemed mundane. Yet Andy emerged the winner because he did not give in, because he didn't let his obvious frustration hurt him on the scoreboard. When he played a couple of poor points on serve, he would respond with a couple of winners. And that's what makes the difference.
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