Mur­ray sets sights on Djokovic

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

COLOMBO — Pak­istan have even more rea­son to cheer their first Test vic­tory in Sri Lanka in nine years thanks to im­pres­sive per­for­mances from the team’s younger play­ers, said cap­tain Mis­bah-ul-haq.

The visi­tors fought back from 96-5 down in their first in­nings to register the win in less than four days af­ter rain had washed out four ses­sions of the con­test on the first two days at the Galle In­ter­na­tional Sta­dium.

The task of haul­ing Pak­istan out of trou­ble has usu­ally fallen to Younus Khan, 37, and the 41-year-old Mis­bah but it was the emerg­ing tal­ents of Asad Shafiq ( pic­tured) and Sar­fraz Ahmed who led them out of a pre­car­i­ous po­si­tion and laid the foun­da­tions for the win.

Leg-spin­ner Yasir Shah then ripped through Sri Lanka’s bat­ting in the sec­ond in­nings with ca­reer-best fig­ures of 7-76 to com­plete a 10-wicket vic­tory on Sun­day.

“It’s good to have young­sters per­form­ing, that ac­tu­ally takes away the pres­sure from us (Younus and him­self),” Mis­bah told re­porters.

“This is the fu­ture we are build­ing with these young­sters and these play­ers are com­ing of age now to take the team ahead.

“Sar­fraz is a key player, Azhar (Ali) is per­form­ing in the top, and the way Sar­fraz and Asad played it fur­ther stamps our faith in them.”

Saeed Aj­mal has been Pak­istan’s main weapon in spin-friendly con­di­tions but the off-spin­ner has been dropped from the side af­ter in­sipid per­for­mances since re­turn­ing from a ban for an illegal bowl­ing ac­tion.

The 29-year-old Yasir, with just eight tests un­der his belt, en­sured Aj­mal was not missed.

“It’s just a start for Yasir; look at the way he has per­formed to step up and be­come Pak­istan’s main bowler and to con­trib­ute in Pak­istan’s vic­to­ries,” Mis­bah said.

“So we are get­ting a good bunch that is grab­bing ev­ery op­por­tu­nity and ap­ply­ing them­selves as a unit. The bat­ting line-up is now get­ting ma­ture and per­form­ing con­sis­tently.” — Reuters LON­DON — Andy Mur­ray set his sights on end­ing his bar­ren run against Novak Djokovic af­ter the world num­ber three wrapped up his Wim­ble­don prepa­ra­tions with a sublime de­mo­li­tion of Kevin An­der­son in the Queen’s Club fi­nal.

Mur­ray clinched a record-equalling fourth Queen’s ti­tle in just 64 min­utes as he de­liv­ered a grass-court master class that left world num­ber 17 An­der­son ut­terly be­wil­dered.

It has been a mem­o­rable year for Mur­ray, with an Aus­tralian Open fi­nal ap­pear­ance fol­lowed by his wed­ding to Kim Sears in April.

Mur­ray also won his first clay-court ti­tles in Mu­nich and Madrid, and reached the French Open semi-fi­nals

The usu­ally tac­i­turn 28-year-old was so en­thused by his fine week’s work in west Lon­don that he claimed he is play­ing even bet­ter than when he se­cured his his­toric Wim­ble­don tri­umph in 2013.

“You have to im­prove. If you don’t peo­ple will take your spot. Phys­i­cally I’m def­i­nitely in a bet­ter place than I was then and I’m us­ing my va­ri­ety much bet­ter just now. That’s been good for me,” Mur­ray said.

But there is still one big is­sue loom­ing for Mur­ray as he heads to Wim­ble­don’s prac­tice courts be­fore the tour­na­ment gets un­der­way on June 29. aban­doned him, his move­ment was slug­gish and his runs all too unimag­i­na­tive.

Fal­cao failed to dis­play even a glimpse of his for­mer self and gave United no sign of en­cour­age­ment what­so­ever that could have prompted them to ex­er­cise their op­tion to buy. The striker’s form has so far shown no im­prove­ment in his Copa Amer­ica out­ings with Colom­bia ei­ther. In the open­ing fix­ture against Venezuela, he was in­ef­fec­tive ,to put it mildly; anony­mous to be ac­cu­rate.

He man­aged just one harm­less at­tempt at goal through­out the game, tamely lob­bing a drop­ping ball over the keeper’s head but also well be­yond the tar­get al­to­gether. The fact that he had only 32 touches and 18 passes to his name war­ranted the wide­spread crit­i­cism he at­tracted.

Fal­cao’s pres­ence was marginally more no­table against Brazil as Colom­bia’s di­rect ap­proach saw their at­tack­ers get the ball

For all his suc­cess over the last six months, he has failed to solve the prob­lems posed by world num­ber one Djokovic.

Mur­ray has lost only six of his 41 matches in 2015 and four of those defeats have come against Djokovic, in the Aus­tralian Open and Mi­ami fi­nals and the last four in In­dian Wells and Roland Gar­ros.

Yet Mur­ray draws strength from his per­for­mances in sev­eral of those matches, as well as his Wim­ble­don and US Open fi­nal wins over the Serb, and in­sists he can close the gap if they meet again at the All Eng­land Club.

“It’s ob­vi­ously a shame I’ve lost to Novak, but I’ve been close in a lot of the matches,” Mur­ray said.

“He’s had a great year and there’s no dis­grace in los­ing to him. But if I want to win the ma­jor com­pe­ti­tions I have to beat him. I’ve done it be­fore when I won US Open and Wim­ble­don and the Olympics, and I need to con­tinue to im­prove and learn from those matches. There’s only one player in the world that’s played bet­ter than me this year.

“I would like to be that player and hope­fully in the fu­ture I can be.”

Stan Wawrinka ex­posed a few chinks in Djokovic’s ar­mour when he un­ex­pect­edly won their French Open fi­nal and Mur­ray be­lieves the reign­ing Wim­ble­don cham­pion will still be com­ing to terms with a loss that de­nied him a ca­reer Grand Slam.

“He was very close to achiev­ing some­thing that very few play­ers have done that he prob­a­bly needed some time away to rest and re­lax and get his head right be­fore get­ting pre­pared for another Slam,” Mur­ray said.

The last time Mur­ray won Queen’s in 2013 he went on to be­come the first Bri­tish man to win the Wim­ble­don sin­gles’ ti­tle for 77 years.

But, de­spite his blis­ter­ing form of late, he has no in­ten­tion of tak­ing suc­cess at the All Eng­land Club for granted.

“It’s great prepa­ra­tion, but there are no guar­an­tees that win­ning here gives you a Wim­ble­don ti­tle,” he said.

“It gives me that lit­tle bit of con­fi­dence go­ing in there, but all sorts of things can hap­pen dur­ing slams. “I need to go out there and earn it.” Mur­ray’s chal­lenge will be bol­stered by the re­turn on Mon­day of his heav­ily preg­nant coach Amelie Mau­resmo, who handed over the reins to Jonas Bjorkman while she took a break dur­ing Queen’s.

“It’s been a good start with Jonas, but I also have to give a lot of credit to Amelie,” he said.

“The work I’ve done with her is pay­ing off. Hope­fully a cul­mi­na­tion of the two of them will give me more suc­cess.” — AFP

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