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16  Pages / Archive: News / Murray eases past Copil in Madrid on: May 09, 2017, 06:57 pm
Andy Murray got his Mutua Madrid Masters campaign off to a winning start today with a 6-4 6-3 defeat of 104th-ranked Marius Copil.

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The Romanian, a controversial wildcard care of compatriot Ion Tiriac, who is tournament director, fought gamely in the first set but was outclassed when it mattered.

The Scot broke late in the first set and from there he never looked likely to relinquish his lead, although the 26-year-old journeyman looked solid enough.

Murray will be especially pleased with his serve, which has looked sub-par on the clay in recent weeks when losing to Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Dominic Thiem. The Brit faced no break points throughout the match, and set up four break points.

At the end, Murray was quick to congratulate Copil on his new spot inside the world’s top 100. The top seed’s reward will be a last-16 outing against Borna Coric or either Pierre Hugues-Herbert or Lucas Pouille.
17  Pages / Archive: News / Murray loses in Barcelona semis on: May 09, 2017, 06:55 pm
Andy Murray lost in the semi-finals of the 2017 Barcelona Open after going down 6-2 3-6 6-4 to Dominic Thiem. The world number one was broken three times in losing the first set in 34 minutes.

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Although Murray battled back to level the match, Austrian world number nine Thiem won in two hours and 13 minutes to set up a final against Rafael Nadal.

The day before, the Scot had gained revenge for the previous week’s defeat by Albert Ramos-Vinolas in Monte Carlo by beating the Spaniard to reach the last four. Murray dug deep to claim a 2-6 6-4 7-6 (7-4) victory in a minute shy of three hours.
18  Pages / Archive: News / Murray to hand back knighthood on: April 01, 2017, 12:02 am

Update: Yep, it was an April Fools. Thanks to those that played along. - Ed
In an unprecedented move for a British sports star, Andy Murray is to hand back the knighthood he received in the New Year’s Honours List.

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Since becoming a Sir, Murray has endured a miserable time on court, losing to Novak Djokovic in the final of Qatar, getting dumped out of the Australian Open early by Mischa Zverev and losing in the second round of Indian Wells to Vasek Pospisil.

To make matters worse, Murray is sidelined with an elbow injury that's forced him to miss this week's Miami Masters. The Scot’s sole title success of the year, in Dubai, came against opponents largely from outside the world’s top 20.

Before receiving his knighthood, Murray was outspoken about the honour coming too soon.  After beating Djokovic in the final of the ATP World Tour Finals to clinch the year-end number one spot, he said, “I don't know, I feel like I’m too young for something like that. I am still young and there are still a lot of things that can go wrong. I could still mess up and make mistakes.”

There is no precedent for a knight from the sports world handing back his honour, although certain notable subjects have turned honours down. These include John Lennon, Danny Boyle, Paul Weller and David Bowie.

The move does have a blueprint from outside sport, however. In August last year, Conservative MP Major Narindar Saroop handed back his CBE in disgust at David Cameron’s ‘Dishonour List’ of gongs for cronies and donors.

At a hastily arranged press conference last night, Murray said, “I was obviously flattered to receive the honour, but it’s put intolerable pressure on my shoulders. My game is shot to pieces and this seems like the only way to get it back.”
19  Pages / Archive: News / Murray makes 14th final out of 16 on: March 04, 2017, 01:57 pm
Andy Murray made much shorter work of Lucas Pouille in the semi-final of the Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships than he did Philipp Kohlschreiber in the quarters. The Scot won through 7-5 6-1.

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The world number one saved seven match points in a 31-minute tiebreak against the German and he struggled in the first set against the seventh seed, perhaps owing to a slight hangover from those exploits.

The duo broke each other twice before the Scot sealed the first set after 68 minutes with his third break.  The final set was a far more routine affair as Murray set up a bout with Fernando Verdasco in Saturday's final.

Verdasco beat Dutchman Robin Haase 7-6 5-7 6-1. He’ll be facing a man playing his 14th final in his last 16 tournaments.

Murray said, "It was tough and I made a lot of mistakes. But there was some good stuff in there.

"I think potentially the match yesterday had something to do with that - sometimes if your legs are a little bit tired, the serve is one of the first things that goes. As the match went on, I started serving a bit better and that helped me."

Victory for Murray would extend his lead over Novak Djokovic in the rankings to over 2200 points.

20  Pages / Archive: News / Murray shakes off the rust against Jaziri on: February 28, 2017, 05:27 pm
Andy Murray today wasted little time moving into the last 16 of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. The Scot posted a solid 6-4 6-1 victory in the UAE over 51st-ranked Malek Jaziri.

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This was the first outing for the world number one since his surprising fourth-round exit to Mischa Zverev in January’s Australian Open.

Murray has since revealed that he contracted shingles on returning from Melbourne, so the bout against the Arab number one might have proved a tougher test than usual.

Murray was tentative in the early stages, but was stung into action when Jaziri broke for 2-1 with a lucky net cord. After the Scot replied in kind, the two men then held comfortably until Jaziri served at 4-5.

The Tunisian netted a backhand cross-court, with Murray following up with a cracking cross-court return winner. A lob and drive at Jaziri’s body and a couple of big forehands later and the Scot had sealed the set.

Having shaken off the rust in the first set, Murray made light work of the second as his opponent faded away in the humidity, briefly calling the trainer in the fourth game. The Brit wrapped up the encounter in an hour and 20 minutes.

In the second round, Murray will face Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who won their last meeting in Indian Wells in 2012.
21  Pages / Archive: News / Murray puts #NextGen in its place on: January 18, 2017, 12:15 pm
Andy Murray today put one of tennis’ much-touted Next Generation firmly in his place, with a resounding 6-3 6-0 6-2 thrashing of Andrey Rublev in the second round of the Australian Open.

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The 19-year-old Russian, part of the vanguard of future stars that includes Alex Zverev, Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev, was given a harsh lesson on Rod Laver Arena in the physicality of tennis at the sharp end.

The Russians are coming – just not yet. And on this performance, the youngster might want to consider sticking to his back-up career as singer in boyband Summer Afternoon.

Murray has admitted he knew little about Rublev’s game, but that didn’t stop him breaking for 4-2 with an unremitting barrage of deep groundshots mixed with astute all-court play. The Scot held on to take the set 6-3.

Murray was even more dominant in the second set. Although Rublev continued to go for his shots, the top seed had an answer to every one of them.

The Russian’s dad was a boxer and he took some serious blows as Murray mixed big serves with drop shots and searing forehands. A horrific first-serve strike rate of 29% and a general lack of variety from the Russian helped Murray seal the bagel.

At the start of the third, fans of the world number one held their breath as the Scot appeared to turn his ankle. He mouthed ‘not good’ to his box and had a brief exchange with the trainer, but still managed to break for 2-1.

The schooling continued and when Rublev hit a backhand long at 5-2, the Scot sealed his passage into round three.

On Monday, Murray took almost three hours to beat Illya Marchenko. So this quick win will be most welcome, particularly if his ankle proves troublesome.

Murray will now play American Sam Querrey, who advanced at the expense of another young gun, Australian Alex De Minaur.
22  Pages / Archive: News / Murray sets up Djokovic showdown on: January 06, 2017, 07:13 pm
Sir Andy Murray once again proved a class above Tomas Berdych today as he breezed past him and into the final of the Qatar Open in Doha. The Scot won his semi-final 6-3 6-4 to record his 28th straight tour win.

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Berdych, now under the coaching wing of Goran Ivanisevic, began the match with a flurry of ill-advised drop shots. The Czech came up short in other areas, too, with a low first-serve strike rate contributing to a break at 1-2.

Largely playing possum to Berdych’s low-percentage power game, the world number one held on to clinch the first set and his 16th in succession against the big Czech.

The second set offered more of the same, despite Berdych winning more points on Murray’s serve in the second game than he did in the whole first set. The Brit held firm, though, and broke handily at 1-1 with some big forehands.

Berdych, hobbling a little with a slightly dicky ankle, wasn’t to be outdone and broke right back for 2-2. But Murray restored the advantage right away thanks to a Berdych double fault and some penetrating groundshots.

It was a lead the top seed never looked like squandering and, at 5-4, a couple of aces and a brace of service winners punctuated by a huge winner from the Czech sealed Murray’s spot in the final.

The Scot will face Novak Djokovic, who saved five match points during his defeat of Fernando Verdasco, in a lip-smacking appetiser to a possible main course in the Australian Open final in three weeks’ time.
23  Pages / Archive: News / Murray the knight vanquishes French uprising on: January 03, 2017, 05:56 pm
Sir Andy Murray today battled past Jeremy Chardy 6-0 7-6(2) in the first round of the Qatar Open and extended his run of ATP victories to 25.

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The world number one and newly minted knight faced only token resistance in the first set, but the Frenchman lifted his game in the second, gradually ironing out a horrific kink in his service toss.

In a 20-minute first set, the Scot broke at will, dictating play and tying the 69th-ranked Chardy in knots.

At the start of the second, Murray was perhaps guilty of taking a short mental holiday and conceded his serve in the very first game, but broke right back with some crushing service returns.

The duo then exchanged service breaks until the tiebreaker, when the Brit broke for a 4-2 lead and held on comfortably thereafter.

Murray will next play Gerald Melzer from Austria, who dispatched Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-7 6-3 6-2.
24  General Community / Tennis Talk / Re: Predict the 2016 EOY Top 10 on: November 21, 2016, 01:57 pm
Here's a game that I have absolutely no chance of winning. Predict the end-of-year ATP men's top ten.

One point for naming a top-tenner; three points for the correct position.

Deadline: start of the Aussie Open on 17th Jan.

I'm going with:

1 Djokovic
2 Murray
3 Wawrinka
4 Nadal
5 Federer
6 Nishikori
7 Kyrgios
8 Ferrer
9 Berdych
10 Thiem

My initial thoughts were that Berdych and Ferrer might drop out of the top ten, but I can't think of anyone who's ready to replace them.  It's tricky.

I scored 7. How about you?
25  Pages / Archive: News / Re: Andy Murray is king of the world on: November 20, 2016, 11:46 pm
...Factor? Rated? Men? Ray?
26  Pages / Archive: News / Andy Murray is king of the world on: November 20, 2016, 09:55 pm
In a tumultuous career of towering achievements, Andy Murray tonight registered perhaps his crowning glory.

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The Scot drew on every last reserve in his depleted store to overcome Novak Djokovic 6-3 6-4 to win the ATP Tour Finals and seal the year-end number-one spot.

At the beginning of the week, Murray and Djokovic faced very different draws in London. The Serb’s was by far the more benign. Murray’s, you felt, would have him on court for at least three hours more if he were to make the final.

And so it turned out. But over the course of an astonishing week, Murray took out the world’s seventh (now sixth), fifth, fourth, third and, ultimately, second-ranked players.

The achievement is all the greater because Djokovic had spent the week at the O2 rekindling his early-season form and swatting aside David Goffin and Kei Nishikori for the loss of just five games.

But nobody has hit more balls, run further through unforgiving Miami sand and outversed the VersaClimber than Murray. Djokovic at his peak used to rile Federer and Nadal with his ‘You made me like this’ chest-beating. But just maybe the Scot has now trumped the lot of them.

The specific details of the match were less important than the visible emergence of a process. Murray was simply more determined to be stronger in the rallies, more resolute in defence and more clinical on the offence than his opponent.

Although he began with a double fault, and added another three points later, Murray was always the one prepared to give more, to run further and to fight with every last breath in his body. And when Djokovic sent a simple smash long and wide at 3-3, the Scot had the first break.

Two games later, Murray fired a forehand into the corner for a 5-3 lead, and soon after wrapped up the set against the five-time champion in 46 minutes.

In the second set, Murray solidified his game even further, while the Serb looked ever-more brittle. The world number one opened up a 4-1 lead, before the champion fought back.

Djokovic recovered a break and charged through his next service game to cut the deficit to 4-3, but Murray rectified matters with a solid service hold to surge to within a game of victory.

The final game mirrored that of the 2013 Wimbledon final, when the Scot took 14 minutes to close out victory. Two match points drifted away before Djokovic finally capitulated on the third to concede his title and crown Murray king of the tennis world.

At the end, the Scot’s smile loomed wide over both the year-end number one and the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals trophies.

Watching, you could be forgiven for thinking that this tennis warrior, so much a prince to the three kings in the fabled Big Four, had finally seen off the celebrated triumvirate through sheer guts, dedication and physicality.

Murray will now celebrate his dad’s wedding before his training block in Miami, where his insane schedule will aim to widen the crevice at the top of the ATP mountain into a crevasse.

With Federer and Nadal fading through age and physical decline, and Djokovic increasingly brittle, it’s worth pondering what wonders 2017 might hold for the Scot.

If Cinderella had a modern-day male counterpart, you feel it could be Murray. And he might yet make it to the ball.
27  Pages / Archive: News / Murray fights his way to the final on: November 19, 2016, 09:43 pm
In an improbably epic semi-final against Milos Raonic, in which both men saved match points, Andy Murray today fought his way into the championship match of the ATP Tour Finals, winning 5-7 7-6 7-6.

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Earlier this week, the Scotsman set a tournament record for the longest-ever three-set match when he beat Kei Nishikori in over three hours and 20 minutes. But that seemed like a fag break after today’s three-hour, 38-minute juggernaut.

In a pulsating encounter in a frenzied O2 Arena, Raonic took the first set after Murray's beefed-up second serve had kept him clinging on – until he double-faulted on a fourth break point at 5-5. The Canadian duly served out the set.

Murray had spent much of the set fishing for his best tennis in barren waters. Forehands missed the mark, his usually reliable down-the-line backhand regularly found the net, and the spidercam came in for plenty of abuse.

At the start of the second set, Murray dumped an easy forehand into the net to hand Raonic a 2-0 lead, and the Scot’s odds suddenly grew longer.

But the world number one broke back to love, both players raised their intensity and Murray should have won the set in the tenth game, until nerves and manic muttering got in the way.

The two men lurched into a tiebreak, like a pair of drunken rhinos and, although Murray continued to miss makeable balls, the Canadian missed more. Murray squeaked through 7-5 to force a final-set shootout.

Both men raised their games. Raonic was enterprising and adaptable from the baseline, firing bullets at the Murray backhand and charging the net. The top seed rediscovered his forehand and pummelled it down the line at every opportunity.

Twice Murray failed to serve out the match after securing breaks for 5-4 and 6-5, with Raonic hitting hell-for-leather on his returns. The encounter thumped into a deciding tiebreak like a rogue juggernaut crashing through a toll booth.

Three times the Scot held match points; three times Raonic escaped with baseline bravery reminiscent of vintage Agassi. The Canadian earned a match point of his own at 9-8, but Murray stole into the net after a lung-busting rally to drop a volley short of Raonic’s racket.

Finally, at 9-10, the younger man netted a tired-looking forehand to hand the Scot one of the hardest-earned victories of a career built on hard victories.

To secure the year-end number one, Murray must match or better Novak Djokovic’s performance here.

The Serb later demolished Kei Nishikori in the other semi-final, setting up a season-ending scrap for the top spot that will have had Sky Sports and the tournament director licking their lips like kids in a sweet shop. There’s no doubt who will be the fresher – but who will want it more?
28  Pages / Archive: News / Murray destroys Wawrinka and avoids Djokovic semi on: November 18, 2016, 06:54 pm
Andy Murray’s detractors have been fond of pointing out that, despite recent successes, he hasn’t faced a top ten player since the US Open.

Following today’s 6-4 6-2 demolition of Stan Wawrinka at the ATP Tour Finals, he’s now beaten three in the space of five days.

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This was Murray’s final round-robin match in the John McEnroe group and the result and performance were the perfect way to answer his critics. As the Scot’s supporters have argued, you can only beat the player who’s in front of you.

With successive victories over Marin Cilic, Kei Nishikori and now Wawrinka, Murray has done that in some style this week at the O2.

Before the match began, Murray knew that one set would be enough to take him through to Saturday’s semi-finals, but to top the group and avoid Novak Djokovic, a win was required.

These circumstances led to some initial tension in the Murray camp, not allayed when Wawrinka blasted four clean winners in the opening game. Despite this early firepower, it was the Swiss who buckled first and he lost his serve and temper to go down 3-4.

Murray duly served out the set for 6-4, thereby securing a semi-final berth. He then quickly took charge of the second set when a tetchy Wawrinka framed a forehand to go an immediate break behind. The Scot charged to a 4-0 lead and wrapped up matters in under 90 minutes.

The win extends Murray’s winning streak to 22 matches and, to finish as year-end number one, he must match or better Djokovic’s performance in London.

The Brit now faces Milos Raonic in tomorrow’s semi-final, while the Serb will play 5th-ranked Nishikori.
29  Pages / Archive: News / Murray battles to 14th Masters title on: November 06, 2016, 05:08 pm
New ATP world number one Andy Murray this afternoon found his best tennis when he needed it to beat John Isner 6-3 6-7 6-4 in the final of the BNP Paribas Masters.

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In Vienna last week, Murray had taken the same opponent to the woodshed. In a one-sided contest, the Scot blitzed Isner 6-1 6-3, adding insult to injury by heading straight out to the practice court after sealing the title.

But it was a different Isner who walked out onto Paris’ Court Central today. This Isner was prepared to spread the play, ghost into the net to hit adept volleys and bomb unreturnable serves out wide.

The American had landed 73% of his first serves this week and he maintained that momentum until 2-3 in the first set when a double fault at 30-30 gave Murray a break point, which he converted after an astonishing service return.

At 4-2, the Scot fought off a couple of break points with a crafty lob and a deft foray to net. Isner held without fuss, but Murray wrapped up the set in 35 minutes with a service winner.

In the second set, the giant American upped his game, winning over 20 points at net and conceding just a handful of points behind his monster serve. Isner sealed the set in a tiebreak, thanks to colossal serving and a double fault from Murray.

The deciding set saw the world number one moving Isner from side to side, testing his stamina and probing the dimensions of his game.

With the American serving at 4-5, a weary double fault, an intelligent lob from Murray and two fierce drives at the shoelaces of the incoming Isner sealed the Scot’s 14th Masters titles and fourth crown in the last five weeks.

The Scot has now extended his lead over Novak Djokovic in the world rankings from five to 405 points as the players gear up for the year’s big showdown – the Barclays ATP Finals at the O2.  

Murray's goal in London must now be to add his name to the elite group of just 16 players since 1973 who have topped the year-end rankings.
30  Pages / Archive: News / Murray blitzes Isner to make semis on: October 28, 2016, 09:22 pm
A rampant Andy Murray conceded just four games as he blitzed American John Isner tonight to make the semi-finals of the Erste Bank Open in Vienna.

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The Scot charged to a 6-1 6-3 win in 75 minutes against an opponent clearly hobbled by a hand blister as big and angry as Vesuvius. Murray, 29, has now won his last 14 matches and five of his last seven tournaments.

The world No 2 conceded a miserly one point on serve in the opening set, while the big-serving Isner hit just three aces and won less than half of his service points.

In the second set, the giant American engineered three break points on Murray's serve at 1-3, aided and abetted by the Scot’s anger at a distracting cameraman, but he failed to convert and the Scot romped home.

Murray will now face defending champion David Ferrer in Saturday’s semi-final as he attempts to win his third consecutive title following victories in Beijing and Shanghai.

Should the Brit take all 500 points here and the 1000 on offer in the Paris Masters, he will displace Novak Djokovic as world number one, if the Serb fails to make the final in Bercy.
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