Murray vs. Baghdatis – French Open 3rd Round – Roland Garros 2010

Posted on May 29, 2010

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Andy Murray deserves a lot of credit for this excellent third-round performance at Roland Garros. His opening match was an epic five setter, followed by a second-round encounter that was hit by large rain delays, meaning the game was stretched over two days, denying Murray the crucial days rest needed to aid recuperation between difficult best of 5 set matches. Despite that severe inconvenience, he played exceptionally well in defeating 25th seed Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 6-2 6-3 0-6 6-2. Other than the major blip in the third set, which he lost without registering a game – the first time that has happened to him in 12 months – he recovered to continue his exhilarating run at this year’s French Open.

Murray looked drained after his elongated match in the previous round and Baghdatis was looking confident and comfortable in the opening couple of games, but it was Murray who took the initiative and broke twice to seal a comfortable first set 6-2. Murray’s back-hand was once again in fine fettle, as was his volleying and general net play. Baghdatis had a weakness – his wayward forehand – whereas Murray was looking solid all round, and this meant it was tough for the Cypriot to exert any influence on the match. When a major part of a player’s artillery isn’t firing on all cylinders Murray can dismantle them with ease, and that is exactly what happened here. Just like in the previous round against Chela, Murray’s first set performance was stunning and set the tone for the majority of the match.

Murray immediately broke in the second set but, just as it seemed Baghdatis’ confidence was evaporating, he broke back, the first time he had dented the Murray serve all match. However, this wave of Baghdatis optimism did not last long, with Murray breaking him again soon after for a 3-2 lead. Murray was staying composed and disciplined, unlike Baghdatis, who produced wild shots at important stages of the match. Murray was too strong for him and at 3-5 he meekly gifted Murray the set with a double-fault.

It is well-known that Baghdatis is a confidence player, feeding off any momentum he manages to create; but he was denied any scrap of hope in the opening two sets by Murray’s composed and forceful play. However, a loss of concentration from Murray in the opening game of the third set led to a break of serve, and Baghdatis, for the first time in the match, sensed an opening. That break signalled a firm momentum shift and Baghdatis grew in stature, beginning to believe that he could match Murray. He started to time his shots well and, more crucially, he made less unforced errors. He took the set 6-0 and suddenly the landscape of the match looked considerably different.

Murray was showing signs of fatigue, understandable given his exertions in the previous two rounds, but his concentration also appeared to be wavering. Baghdatis seized on this and broke in the first match of the fourth set as Murray looked rattled. The next game was crucial. A hold for Baghdatis would have signalled a serious shift of power, but Murray, as he so often does at the most crucial periods, found something extra, and broke back immediately. This was highly significant and Murray once again began to exude confidence and belief. Two incredible points brought about a break for Murray to go 4-2 ahead and he went on to seal the match. A breathtaking match point confirmed victory, and offered a clear example of Murray’s precocious talent, as he produced a sublime drop-shot that the Cypriot could not return. The grin on Murray’s face after that particular point said it all.

This was a significant scalp for Murray because Baghdatis is no push over. He has reached a Wimbledon semi-final and Australian Open final in recent years, and this year he has beaten Roger Federer, but the truth here is that he was nowhere near good enough to trouble Murray. Baghdatis couldn’t find any rhythm or consistency and Murray steamrolled him, with his ability to return the seemingly unreturnable a significant factor in destroying Baghdatis’ confidence. After such a poor third set from Murray, to up his performance levels so much in the middle of the fourth was remarkable, demonstrating a unique ability that he has. Baghdatis had worked so hard to get a foothold into the match, that to see his opponent click so effortlessly and begin to dictate play again was crushing in the extreme. Murray can now relax and prepare for his last 16 match against Tomas Berdych, who comfortably took care of in-form American John Isner in round 3.

words by Robert Pollard

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Posted in: Tennis