Birthday Boy Murray fights past Nalbandian

By for on
Andy Murray won a tough contest against David Nalbandian winning 6-1, 4-6, 7-5

Murray broke Nalbandian in his first service game as the Argentinian threw in a few mistakes including a double fault to give Murray the early break.

Murray faced break points in his following game, but a couple of good points from the Brit gave him deuce and the game, for  a 3-0 lead. Murray kept the pressure on Nalbandian in the following game and a beautifully crafted drop shot presented Murray with a break point. He opened his shoulder and brought his forehand to play, enforcing his early dominance on the match with a double break.

In the swirling clouds of red clay on the windy court, Andy faced pressure on his own serve from the Argentinian. With little fuss or fight Andy handed Nalbandian a break back to love, allowing him to get his name on the scoreboard with 4-1.

Both players showed their ability to move in the first set, with forays into the net from both. Fighting each other and the wind they played an intense sixth game as Nalbandian fought to hold serve and Murray to gain back the break. The longest game of the set by far gave the players a chance to showcase their skill with drop shots and long baseline rallies. Murray read his opponent well to open up the court and present advantages, but a mixture of his opponent’s ability, human error and the wind kept extending the game.

Murray’s speed and returning ability handed him a break point that Nalbandian’s fourteenth unforced error ended this seemingly pivotal game giving Murray a 5-1 lead. Andy followed up the longest game of the match with a simple and fast service game to take the first set.

The second set was for the most part a more balanced affair with both holding serve comfortably. Nalbandian was able to convert more points on his serve while Murray continued to look stable and under control for most the set. Both continued to play their preferred shots with more lovely drop shots from the Argentinian though Murray produced a stunning drop shot to hold 4-4, and Andy’s forehand also looked in good form.

After nine games going with serve, Murray’s serve dropped noticeably and Nalbandian upped the pressure as Andy served to stay in the set. Suddenly Murray was facing set points after a reasonably calm second set. The game suddenly resembled the sixth game of the first set but Nalbandian had the advantage. The Argentinian managed to break Murray and take the set 6-4.

Nalbandian opened the third set with a solid hold and the first few games went with serve. In the fourth game Murray let Nalbandian into the game and a cracking return handed Nalbandian a break point which he didn’t need to win as Murray hit his second double fault of the match to give Nalbandian the break to go 3-1 in the third set.

However, as is so often the case he then managed to lose his next service game to love to the Brit, putting them back on serve in the third. Murray then consolidated the break with a good service game that included some wonderful shots down the lines to win points. All this made easier by a first serve percentage of 80% so far in the third set.

Finally both players seemed to be playing better tennis at the same time with more intensity and excitement than the second set. The eighth game seemed crucial but Andy held comfortably, finishing it off with a beautifully crafted drop shot to rival the many coming off Nalbandian’s racket all match.

Both players continued to hold serve, with Murray raising his intensity in the ninth game, painting the lines and putting away a lob to ensure he held serve for 5-5.
Suddenly a couple of errors from Nalbandian and good returns from Murray handed the Brit three break points. Break points one and two the Argentinian defended well, but a net cord worked in Andy’s favour and he took the break for a 6-5 lead.

Nalbandian was not disheartened and a 26 shot rally was fought over the opening point of Andy’s service game. Another brilliant point by Nalbandian gave him a chance to break back. A superb backhand down the line gave the birthday boy deuce. Finally after 2 hours 40 minutes Murray gave himself the birthday gift he’d been aiming for with a win.

Nalbandian was on form today and Andy was tested in all areas of his game by the Argentinian. Especially in terms of the return game, Nalbandian gave Murray a taste of his own medicine and produced too many drop shots to count. It was a nerve-wrecking match for Murray’s fans as the level of play from both players was overall good. However, the Scot came through to win and will face either Gasquet or Lorenzi in the next round.
 clap  clap

I know it's Andy's birthday, but I think I aged a few years watching that! Thought it was all in the bag after the first set, but Nalbandian certainly raised his game.

Hopefully getting a real contest in the second and third was better for Andy in one respect to get some challenging match play under his belt after the time off. Hope the back isn't too sore after it all though!
May 15, 2012, 07:56 PM
By mumbler

Very good report Hazel.  Love the title.

Missed the first set but managed to watch sets 2 & 3 in a pub - soft drinks only, but by the 3rd a whisky or three might have been more appropriate. Whistle

Well done Andy for hanging on in there against Nalbandian at his trickiest.  Hope you enjoy the cake, you deserve it. yay
May 15, 2012, 08:06 PM
By Aileen

Excellent report, I watched the whole  nerve racking match from beginning to end, the top three would have struggled to put Nalby away tonight, some of the shots he was producing were world class.  I see reason to believe, when Andy was undr the cosh in he third set, he raised his game and had the balls to go for line hugging shots, before he may have just tried to keep the ball in play.  We all know that Andy is a notoriously slow starter in tourneys.  Onwards and upwards. 
Thanks for the speedy report which is an extremely accurate and well balaned account of a nail biter!!!!!
May 15, 2012, 08:07 PM
By Murray Magic

Phew! Hope Andy is able to  celebrate his birthday yay
A very good match, I'm sure neutrals loved it  Rolling Eyes
But we keep saying it- that damn serve. It felt as if his first serve % was way below 50.
Just won't do Mr Murray. naughty

And thank you Hazybear for a gr8 report clap
May 15, 2012, 08:08 PM
By blueberryhill

Glad the report is alright, seemed far too long, but I'm not good at being concise lol
May 15, 2012, 08:13 PM
By Hazybear

Told the story of the match clearly and concisely, you have missed your vocation!!!!! 
May 15, 2012, 08:16 PM
By Murray Magic

Happy Birthday Andy!

Nice match today - some fabulous tennis from both players but so glad Andy came through.  clap
May 15, 2012, 08:19 PM
By janetx

A great report. This was a really good test for Andy and showed his mental strength, it was a real workout and will hold Andy in good stead for the rest of this tournament. As he was coming into this match cold I think it showed the strides Andy has made mentally. He will be able to enjoy the rest of his birthday and once he has had his ice bath etc he can go back to the hotel and relax. Rome is such a beautiful city, had a wonderful fortnight there some years back.
May 15, 2012, 08:19 PM
By michelle

Excellent and speedy report Hazel. It must be my age,  get a bit despondent these days in the roller coasters but he came through in grand style and faces Gasquet or a wild card in the third round I believe and this should be on Thursday so he'll have a rest tomorrow.
May 15, 2012, 08:20 PM
By janscribe

Glad the report is alright, seemed far too long, but I'm not good at being concise lol
It was a long match. Smile  Thank you for not dazzling us all with the technicalities of the game.  Very clear and easily understood.
May 15, 2012, 08:28 PM
By Aileen

It was a long match. Smile  Thank you for not dazzling us all with the technicalities of the game.  Very clear and easily understood.

I'd get lost if I tried too much of that, so focus on my strength which is the feel of the match. I understand the technicalities, just not great at talking about them Smile
May 15, 2012, 08:31 PM
By Hazybear

I'd get lost if I tried too much of that, so focus on my strength which is the feel of the match. I understand the technicalities, just not great at talking about them Smile
I understand them too, but so often reports in the past have simply failed to give any feel of the match, so for that, well done.
May 15, 2012, 08:34 PM
By Aileen

Watching the score on my phone getting very stressed. Switched it off when Andy lost his serve in the 3rd thought it was all over, should have more faith. Really pleased when I saw the result. Looking forward to watching it.
May 15, 2012, 08:46 PM
By Tessie

Excellent report - is that a professional skill you're using?  Certainly reads well - authoritative and informative.  Not bad for a lass from Livvy!  ( Just kidding,  west lothian is one of my favourite areas of Scotland, some of my forebears were black bitches)   Eyebrow raise.
May 15, 2012, 08:50 PM
By Fiverings

Just got in.. missed the whole match, so thanks Hazel for the very good report. Sounds like there were some nail-biting moments, but good to hear Andy raised his game when it counted.
May 15, 2012, 08:50 PM
By scotnadian

Watched it from start to finish. Andy's BH started firing towards the end which what got him the win, Nalby played some inspired tennis and nearly dropshotted Andy into submission. The angles the Argentine was able to create was unreal.

Andy really had to dig deep get the W and though was fortunate to get the lucky net cord to break for 6-5 in the 3rd, I think Andy totally deserved to go through tonight.

If you look at all of Andy's slam progressions in the last 18 months, there is always a tricky match in the earlier rounds (Wawrinka Wimby '09, Isner AO '10, Lubicic Wimby '11, Hasse USO '11 and Harrison AO '12 being examples). Once he got through those matches, it eases him and he is able to get a lot of confidence to charge through to the latter stages. The top 3 has done pretty much the same, that's why they can get through to finals on a consistent basis to keep themselves in contention.

Andy did a lot of growing up tonight, he knuckled down towards the end and got job done when it really mattered.
May 15, 2012, 09:00 PM
By syc23

Excellent report, HazyBear. Lengthy but not boring. You captured totally the essence of the match. Very well written.

My tv gave out just as Andy was about to serve for the match, so I was terribly nervous reaching for my computer to discover the result. Thank goodness all was well.

A nice birthday present for you, Andy. Happy birthday.
May 15, 2012, 10:38 PM
By OldScotSupport

As I couldn't watch it really appreciative of such a detailed report which gives real flavour of match. Sounds like a good W but just hope didn't take too much toll on his back. Well done our birthday boy.
May 15, 2012, 11:36 PM
By Ruthie

Just got in.. missed the whole match, so thanks Hazel for the very good report. Sounds like there were some nail-biting moments, but good to hear Andy raised his game when it counted.
Indeed!  Like when he was 3-1 down in the 3rd and I'm sitting watching in a pub, but was so engrossed I forgot where I was, and shouted "FFS Andy - get your b***** finger out!!". blush  Fortunately, he did, but a member of staff commented that she didn't know tennis could be that exciting! Rolling Eyes
May 16, 2012, 12:16 AM
By Aileen

Great report Hazel, you caught the mood of the match exactly.  Well done Andy, you did look exhausted at the end of the match buty that's what happens when you get older.  Hope you had a great birthday.
May 16, 2012, 12:32 AM
By Iris

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