After splitting up with Ivan Lendl Sony Open defending champion Andy Murray makes it to round three in Miami - UBITENNIS
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After splitting up with Ivan Lendl Sony Open defending champion Andy Murray makes it to round three in Miami

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TENNIS – Andy Murray will have to solve the problem of his patchy play quickly if he hopes to defend last year’s Miami ATP Masters title against a star-studded field. In his first match since an unexpected split with coach Ivan Lendl earlier in the week, Murray beat Ebden 3-6, 6-0, 6-1. Simone Kemler

 

Andy Murray will have to solve the problem of his patchy play quickly if he hopes to defend last year’s Miami ATP Masters title against a star-studded field. In 2013 Murray departed Miami ranked second in the world after a razor-thin victory over David Ferrer in the final gave him his second Sony Open title. After that he went on to claim an emotional second Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, but the 26-year-old has yet to reach a final since having back surgery in September 2013 and is currently ranked sixth in the world.

Murray was at a loss to explain a third-set collapse against big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic in the fourth round at the Indian Wells Masters and admitted his confidence was at low ebb. However, in his first appearance in Miami he is into the third round of the Sony Open in Miami despite an early wobble against the world number 67, Matthew Ebden. After losing the first set 6-3 to the Australian, Andy Murray dominated the next two sets for the loss of just one game, securing victory as the clock approached midnight at Crandon Park.

In his first match since an unexpected split with coach Ivan Lendl earlier in the week, Murray got the contest off to an unsteady start when Ebden broke him at the first opportunity and then held serve to quickly jump in front 3-0 on his way to easily taking the opening set. However the sixth seed immediately broke back to get on level terms and raced through the next five games to clinch a convincing victory. “You do what you do to win a match,” said Murray. “It’s not always about how you play or how calm you are on the court, it’s about winning the tennis match. That’s what mattersI won the next six games after that so maybe it nothing to do with it, maybe it helped. I just got on with it and won the match.”

The Wimbledon champion was one of a parade of grand slam winners who made it through the second round, including world number two Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Murray will next face Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, against whom he has a 9-0 record

That tough win was Ebden’s first in five tournaments and will have gotten him used to the conditions in Miami. Conditions Murray is very used to. The Scot lives in Miami and spends two to three months practicing on the center court. He will need that familiarity. If he gets past Lopez, Murray could face, Tsonga after that, and then Indian Wells champion and old rival Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.

Murray does not expect the first move he makes since splitting with Lendl to bring success in Miami. The Scot says he knows he is not match fit. And the transition from having a coach of Lendl’s stature to doing it alone again might have some psychological consequences in his first couple of outings. The results will be much talked about. Just as people wondered whether Murray would ever win a Major, they now wonder if he will win more after not just back surgery but losing a man who helped turned around his career.

Andre Agassi gives an interesting insight into his thoughts regarding Murray’s future

Agassi spoke to a small group of British reporters as part of World Tennis Day, in London, earlier this month, revealed his ideas on the kind of mental challenges that face Murray, having won Wimbledon: “You’ve seen it a lot in the past. When you win for the first time or become that person who is expected to do it, it’s not easy at first. I won Wimbledon in 1992 and I didn’t win again until August of 1994. Pete won in 1990 at the US Open and my recollection is he didn’t win again until 1993 Wimbledon. There’s that area you get into where mentally you have to recognise that people expect you to win, you’re not satisfied unless you do win and there’s a lot of pressure that goes along with that.Once you deal with that, in time you realise it’s not about winning, it’s about being the best (you) can be every single day. When you start pushing yourself on a fundamental level to be the best that you can, you start to separate yourself. I believe Andy is going to settle into the comfort of being the guy that is going to be standing there towards the end of these tournaments. Once he pushes himself to make himself a better player and not worry so much about holding up the trophy or hardware, I think you’ll see him win a lot more.”

With Lendl, Murray chose an Tennis-icon to be coached by

Lendl, an eight-time Grand Slam champion,was appointed Murray’s coach in December 2011 with the aim of bringing the “experience and knowledge that few others have, particularly in major tournaments”. Prior to his partnership with Lendl, Murray had worked with the likes of Leon Smith, Mark Petchey, Brad Gilbert, Miles Maclagan and Alex Corretja. The Scot had lost his first four Grand Slam finals before teaming up with the Czech. In their first year together, Murray beat Roger Federer in the Olympic final at London 2012 before defeating Novak Djokovic to win the 2012 US Open. Murray then ended a 77-year wait for a British men’s singles champion at Wimbledon the following year with another victory against Djokovic. The 54-year old Lendl, is rated as one of the world’s greatest players, having won 94 ATP Tour titles in a 16-year career. He remained as the world’s top ranked player for 156 consecutive weeks. With regards to his engagement with Murray he said: “It is time to concentrate on some of my own projects, including playing more events around the world. I will always be in Andy’s corner and wish him nothing but great success as he, too, goes into a new phase of his career.”

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Alexander Zverev Powers Past Erratic Nadal To Set Thiem Showdown

Alexander Zverev secured his best win of his career on a clay court by beating Rafael Nadal in Madrid.

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Alexander Zverev (@ATPTour_ES - Twitter)

Alexander Zverev powered past an erratic Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-3 to reach the semi-finals in Madrid.

 

After a slow start Zverev produced some stunning tennis to knock out the five-time champion Nadal, who had an error-prone day at the office.

The German will now play Dominic Thiem in the last four in a rematch from the 2018 final.

It was the 20-time grand slam champion who started off the fastest as he looked to target the Zverev forehand early with uncomfortable spins and heights.

Eventually Nadal would get his rewards for an accurate tactical game-plan as a Zverev double fault handed him the break.

However that advantage was to be short-lived as the first point of the seventh game would change the momentum of the match with Nadal putting in simple unforced errors especially on the forehand side.

The German took advantage as he used his backhand to dictate points from the baseline. Furthermore, Zverev used his superior net play to his advantage by shortening the points and creating a faster tempo.

An unusual first set from Nadal’s perspective was complete as the fifth seed reeled off four games in a row to seal the opening set 6-4.

At the start of the second set, the Spaniard tried to up his level and intensity as he used some drop-shots at unexpected moments and attempted to bring the crowd into the match.

Despite this Nadal’s return game was lacking its usual ferocity as he couldn’t capitalise on Zverev’s second serves.

There was a lack of confidence in the Spaniard when implementing effective patterns of play as Zverev had a lot of success dictating play and winning the baseline and net rallies.

Another break in the fifth game ensured that Zverev’s dominance was being rewarded.

Although a double break advantage was denied, Nadal couldn’t deny victory for Zverev as the German sealed his first clay court victory over the ‘King of Clay.’

After the match Zverev admitted it was one of the biggest wins of his career, “Definitely one of the biggest wins of my career so far, especially on clay against Rafa. It is the toughest thing to do in our sport,” Zverev said in an on-court interview.

“Beating him in his house, in Spain, is incredible but the tournament is not over yet.”

Lots to ponder for Nadal as an error-prone performance sees him looking to improve in Rome next week.

As for the German, he sets up a 2018 final rematch with Dominic Thiem in the last four as he secured his best victory on this surface of his career.

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Dominic Them reaches semifinal in Madrid after three-set battle with Isner

Dominic Thiem is into the Madrid semi-finals after an impressive three set win over John Isner.

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Dominic Thiem (@atptour - Twitter)

The Austrian booked his spot in the semifinals after coming back to beat the American in three sets.

 

Dominic Thiem needed one hour and 55 minutes to beat the world number 39 John Isner in three sets 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 hitting 20 winners in the win while his opponent hit 26 unforced errors.

“We all know that he is one of the best servers in history and this altitude in Madrid makes it even tougher to return his serve but I was a little bit surprised by his return games, I think he attacked both my first and second serves and it took me a while to get used to it and I think the match changed when I saved those three breakpoints in the second set”.

It was the American who got off to the faster start holding his opening service game and then going on the offensive earning a breakpoint the following game and taking an early 2-0 lead.

The Greensboro, North Carolina native had a chance to go up a double break but the world number four saved both breakpoints he faced and managed to hold his first service game of the match.

That break was enough for the American to serve out the first set and he was one set away from the semifinals.

The second set stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Dallas, Texas resident had four breakpoints but failed to convert and the match was starting to turn with the American looking gassed.

In the next game the Austrian had three breakpoint and converted for his first break of the match as he served out the second set to send it to a deciding third set.

Isner was put under pressure early in the third set facing a breakpoint in the first game of the set but managed to save it and hold serve and it stayed on serve until 4-4.

That’s when the world number four earned two chances to break and on the second time of asking he would break and served out the match to book a date with either Alexander Zverev or Rafael Nadal.

After his match in an on court interview he gave this thoughts on a potential matchup with either Nadal or Zverev.

“It’s going to be a good one, I’ve played two big matches here against Rafa ( Nadal) and one big match against Sascha ( Zverev), and against either one of them it’s going to be an incredible challenge and it’s going to be exciting tomorrow”.

With the loss today by Isner when the new rankings come out on Monday it will be the first time in the open era and since the rankings came out that an American will not feature in the top 30 players in the world.

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Past Cancellation Of Clay Events ‘Double Motivation’ For Norway’s Casper Ruud

The 22-year-old is on a roll after scoring his biggest win yet over Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Madrid Open.

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Last year’s decision to scrap a series of clay events due to the COVID-19 pandemic was a huge blow to the world of tennis but at the same time a blessing in disguise for Casper Ruud.

 

The world No.22 is enjoying a surge in his form on the Tour after reaching back-to-back semi-finals at the Monte Carlo Masters and Munich Open. Furthermore, this week at the Madrid Open Ruud achieved the biggest win of his career on Thursday after stunning Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(4), 6-4. Registering his first ever win over a top five player on the Tour. He is yet to drop a set in the tournament.

Ruud partly credits his success on the clay to events that happened 12 months ago when he was unable to play on his favourite surface due to the pandemic. The French Open did take place but later in the year where he reached the third round.

“It was a part of the season last year that I was looking extremely forward to. I felt it was taken a bit away from not me but all the players when everything got postponed, some of the tournaments were cancelled,” Ruud said after his win over Tsitsipas.
“I think I just kept my motivation for a year and have double the motivation to be here this year luckily.’
“This (Madrid) was one of the tournaments that we didn’t get to play last year. I’m just trying to enjoy the moment and take care of the chances that I get.”

Growing up, the youngster trained at the Rafa Nadal Academy and says his time there has shaped how he plays today. Toni Nadal, who is the former mentor of Rafael Nadal, remains ‘involved’ in his tennis. Although the 60-year-old is now switching his focus to working with Felix Auger-Aliassime. Pedro Clar, who he met at the academy, is still a member of his team.

“Pedro Clar is the one that travels more often with me. We have a very good relationship. He’s here (in Madrid) this week,” said Ruud.
“He’s been with me at some of my biggest tournaments and wins. When I won my first tournament in Buenos Aires, my first semifinal in Rome last year, Pedro was with me. I think it’s helped me a lot.’
“Also getting help from Toni. Now Toni is helping Felix more personally. But he’s always involved with my tennis at some point in my career. Also Rafa, of course, he helped me a lot the last years.”

The next test for Ruud in Madrid will be Alexander Bublik who he beat in three sets in their only previous meeting back in 2019. Should he win again, the world No.22 would be through to his third consecutive Masters semi-final on the clay after Rome (2020) and Monte Carlo.

At the age of 22, Ruud has already become the highest ranked Norwegian player in ATP Tour history. Coincidentally the record was previously held by his father Christian who now his head coach. Following his latest win, he is set to break into the world’s top 20 for the first time on Monday.

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