Andy takes the low road to victory

Daily Express - - WORLD CUP RUGBY LEAGUE: - From Alix Ram­say in Paris

THE RUN GOES ON: Mur­ray hits out yes­ter­day THERE seems to be no stop­ping Andy Mur­ray. Make the Scot play on crushed cow dung or in a gar­den shed and he would still fancy his chances to win.

Yes­ter­day the en­vi­ron­ment was slightly more salu­bri­ous than that – but only just – as Mur­ray made his way into the quar­ter-fi­nals of the Paris Mas­ters by beat­ing Fer­nando Ver­dasco 6-3, 7-6.

The world No4 and man of the mo­ment had been bumped off the main show court and out on to No1 court, a con­verted ice rink with a ceil­ing so low and walls so close that any lob was in dan­ger of smash­ing the tele­vi­sion lights and any lung­ing dive risked tak­ing the play­ers into the stands. It was no way to treat a po­ten­tial cham­pion.

“The ceil­ing is so low, and it makes the court play so much faster,” Mur­ray com­plained af­ter­wards.

“It’s just com­pletely dif­fer­ent from the main arena where the ceil­ing is so high.

“It felt pretty hot in there. All play­ers will tell you that the court feels smaller and tighter when there’s not much of a back­drop and the ceil­ing is low. I have no idea why it makes the court quicker, but it does.”

Yet once he had found his bear­ings – and avoided any shot that skimmed the net by more than a few inches – he was more than a match for Ver­dasco.

Last week Mur­ray al­lowed the Spa­niard just three games in the St Peters­burg semi-fi­nals and even if he was ex­pect­ing his ri­val to play a bit bet­ter this time around, he was not ready to let him break his match-winning streak. Sure enough, af­ter 82 min­utes, Mur­ray had ex­tended that run to 14.

Ver­dasco gave the first set away by al­low­ing a dodgy line call to up­set him just long enough for him to drop his serve and then com­pounded the prob­lem by run­ning out of ideas and pa­tience in the sec­ond-set tiebreak.

It was just as Mur­ray, now rev­el­ling in his sta­tus as one of the very best in the world, had planned it.

“In the im­por­tant mo­ments, the best guys make a lot of balls and can take their chances,” said Mur­ray. “That’s maybe why the last few months I’ve been re­turn­ing great and mak­ing my op­po­nents play some balls.”

To­day Mur­ray plays David Nal­ban­dian, the de­fend­ing cham­pion and the only man in the world’s cur­rent top 10 he has yet to beat. Their only pre­vi­ous match was at Wim­ble­don three years ago when Mur­ray, still a gan­gling teenager, was beaten in five sets.

“There’s a big dif­fer­ence be­tween then and now. Ob­vi­ously what I’ve achieved since then has been great,” said Mur­ray.

“Nal­ban­dian is also ar­guably a bet­ter player now than he was back then. It should be a great match.”

At least this time it will be on the main show court.

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