Mur­ray de­fi­ant de­spite de­feat

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

“As soon as the ref­eree blows his fi­nal whis­tle, Josep is an unas­sum­ing and very like­able guy. In a word, he is hum­ble.”

The crit­ics — ‘He has had noth­ing on a plate’

In Novem­ber 2001, while a player at Bres­cia, Guardi­ola was banned from play­ing for four months and re­ceived a £30,000 fine for fail­ing two drugs tests. He con­tin­ued to protest his in­no­cence and was fi­nally cleared of all charges in 2009.

“There have been times when he has been at­tacked from all sides. There have been jour­nal­ists who have not liked him and when there was the whole dop­ing saga in Italy he had to show great strength not to de­cide to quit the game but rather to con­tinue be­cause he was clean and he wanted to prove that. And that is what hap­pened — he was cleared.

“There were times when he had a headache and his mother would say ‘take an aspirin’ and he would refuse, in case it af­fected his blood tests — and they say he was guilty of dop­ing.

“That was very tough for him, but his re­sponse was to fight and fight - and that is the same ap­proach he has with foot­ball. It is part of his na­ture, never to lower his guard.

“It is not like he has been given any­thing on a plate — when he first started at Barcelona he had to prove him­self as there were those who had their doubts and told him to go back home. So he achieved it all through his own hard work.” Guardi­ola at City “They can ex­pect to see some­one with great hu­man­ity. They will be very happy be­cause he has never dis­re­spected any­one; he is very well-man­nered and po­lite. To use a Cata­lan ex­pres­sion, ‘he won’t be tak­ing any­one for a ride’.

“Win­ning, win­ning. That is what drove him. Win­ning but also play­ing foot­ball in a cer­tain way, be­cause at the clubs he was at his style changed the way the team played. Pass­ing, pass­ing, pass­ing then at the right mo­ment, bam, in the goal! None of the long­ball stuff. He never liked that.

“They can be sure that 24 hours a day he will be fo­cused on foot­ball — on their next op­po­nents, on tac­tics. For 24 hours a day he will be look­ing at ways to bring suc­cess to his team. I am cer­tain about that.” — BBC MEL­BOURNE — Andy Mur­ray in­sisted he wasn’t far away from match­ing No­vak Djokovic de­spite his fourth de­feat to the run­away world num­ber one in the Aus­tralian Open fi­nal.

Mur­ray paid the price for a slow start as he went down 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (7/3) in a onesided men’s fi­nal Sun­day which only un­der­lined the Serb’s supremacy.

But Mur­ray said he felt he re­mained in touch with Djokovic de­spite their widen­ing head-to-head sta­tis­tics.

“I don’t know how far off I was tonight. The first set, you know, I wasn’t there, but the se­cond and third sets I do think were very close,” said the Bri­tish world num­ber two.

“I do think I could have played a bit bet­ter. I didn’t think I hit my fore­hand as well as I could have done. When I did in the third set that helped me out a lot.

“I was able to get my­self into the net more. I was able to play more of­fen­sive ten­nis then.

“I mean, most of the matches we played in Slams I think have been com­pet­i­tive. Whether that looks the same from the out­side or not, I don’t know.”

Mur­ray’s lat­est de­feat to Djokovic made him only the se­cond man in the Open era - af­ter Ivan Lendl, his for­mer coach - to lose five fi­nals at the same Grand Slam tour­na­ment.

Mur­ray lost to Roger Fed­erer in the 2010 fi­nal, and he was also run­ner-up in 2011, 2013, 2015 and now 2016, watch­ing Djokovic lift the win­ner’s tro­phy each time.

His head-to-head record with the Serb moves to 22-9 in Djokovic’s favour, in­clud­ing 11 of their last 12 matches and their last four Grand Slam meet­ings, go­ing back to Mur­ray’s Wim­ble­don win in 2013.

Mur­ray and Djokovic, both 28, were born a week apart and have known each other since their ju­nior days, and while they are both at the top of men’s ten­nis it is the Serb who has ac­cel­er­ated in front.

Djokovic has 11 Grand Slam ti­tles to Mur­ray’s two, 61 ca­reer tro­phies to 35 and $97 mil­lion in prize money com­pared to $44 mil­lion for the Scot. — AFP

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