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AEGON Champs: On a knife-edge

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Originally published on: 10/06/10 21:51

Mardy Fish is becoming something of a nemesis for Andy Murray. Defeated by the American in Miami (in the match that really brought home the Scot’s early-season dip in form) and bundled out of the doubles with brother Jamie by Fish and his partner Mark Knowles on Wednesday, the 28-year-old Florida native is hardly top of his ‘ideal third round opponents’ list. (If that’s something the players draw up these days…)

Sure, Murray comfortably beat the world No.90 on his title-winning run at the AEGON Championships in 2009, but this year, Mardy is a different kettle of… errr… well, you know.

Leaner, fitter, and playing at a level far above his lowly ranking, Fish picked up where he had left off in Miami, grabbing an early break before taking the opening set 6-4.

Murray immediately bit back, storming through the second set 6-1 to force a decider in fading light and blustery conditions.

But just when the Scot seemed to have momentum on his side, he self-destructed, momentarily at least. Two sliced backhands failed to clear the net, before another drifted yards long of the baseline. Punching his racket in frustration and dragging his feet along the turf as the American brought up a 3-0 advantage, the defending champ looked destined for a third round exit. Enter the Great British crowd, who, seeing the Scot in need of a boost, unleashed a deafening roar that will no doubt continue to resonate around West London until the early hours.

Murray responded immediately; crashing six points in a row, before bringing up a break-point when Fish buried a Sampras-esque leaping smash into the foot of the net. The world No.4 required only a glimmer of a chance and drilled a sumptuous backhand cross court to break.

With proceedings back on serve, Fish approached umpire Cedric Mourier to argue that the match be suspended in the fading light. Murray simply watched patiently as he waited for Fish to return to the baseline to serve, only for the chair umpire to call a premature end to the match. Quick as a flash, Fish scarpered. Murray remained unmoved in disbelief.

The Scot hung around on court for several minutes to argue his case. Fish, he vented, would not have mentioned the light had he still held the lead.

“Mardy says he doesn’t want to play so we stop playing. The referee didn’t consult anyone,” fumed the Scot on court.

“That came out of nowhere. The weather was absolutely fine. It’s ridiculous.”

With their third round tie on a knife edge at 3-3 in the third set, Murray will need to shake off that ‘hard-done-by’ feeling for a place in the quarter-finals on Friday.

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