Andy takes the low road to victory
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.