Andy Murray – Monte Carlo Rolex Masters 2011

Posted on April 17, 2011

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Andy Murray exited the Monte Carlo Masters at the semi-final stage after a 6-4 2-6 6-1 defeat to world number one Rafael Nadal, leaving the Spaniard on course to win his seventh consecutive Monte Carlo title. Nadal was pushed hard by Murray who produced some of his best clay court tennis to date, eventually succumbing to Nadal’s brilliance in a match lasting just short of three hours.

Seldom has a defeat been so positive as Murray produced some excellent tennis against the greatest clay court player the world has ever seen. He won two mammoth games, one lasting 14 minutes and one 19 minutes, demonstrating that his famous resilience and tenacity are back in full bloom. His movement and first serve were also excellent and these qualities provide a solid platform on which he must now build.

Murray was carrying an injury which significantly contributed to his eventual third set deterioration, with the match delayed by 20 minutes whilst he was given a cortisone injection and local anaesthetic in order to ready him for the encounter.

“When you do have an injury, it’s sometimes difficult to concentrate,” said Murray afterwards.

“Against someone like him, you need to play every single point, concentrate from every single point to the last. You can’t just throw games, hope to hang onto your serve. You need to play every single point to put pressure on him.”

It has been a difficult couple of months for Murray since his run to the Australian Open final but his performances this week will hopefully lay to rest any lingering doubts that his current malaise was set to continue for as long as last year’s post-Australian Open downturn in form. Indeed, at this tournament 12 months ago he performed woefully, losing in the second-round to Phillip Kohlschreiber. The way he clinically dispatched Radek Stepanek, Gilles Simon and Frederico Gil this week was encouraging and suggests Murray is ready to make an assault for the title at this year’s French Open. He performed admirably in this semi-final loss too, making this a good week for Murray, but there is still room for improvement.

“I thought it was a good match, but I think I can play better,” said Murray. “It’s good to know you’re able to play at a similar level to what he does on the clay. To win against him, you need to be able to do that for three-and-a-half hours, four hours.

“The matches that he’s lost on clay the last few years have been normally long ones. He’s the best player in the world for a reason.”

It is testament to Nadal’s ability on clay courts that opponents can take heart from winning a set and matching him for the majority of the match before losing; but the reality is that he is so good on this surface that such a performance really is worthy of praise. After all, Nadal has not lost in 36 matches at this tournament and not lost a single clay court match anywhere in the world since 2009. Murray can now go into the build-up to the French Open in positive mood after such an encouraging display against the very best.

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Posted in: Tennis