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Andy Murray – World Tour Finals contenders


 

Originally published on: 18/11/10 13:27

Age: 23 (May 15 1987)
Birthplace: Dunblane, Scotland
ATP ranking: 5th
Qualified: 4th 
Season best: Winner – Masters 1000 Canada, Masters 1000 Shanghai Runner-up – Australian Open, Los Angeles
Season win-loss record: 44-16
Prize money (2010): $3,186,805
Record vs. top eight: Rafael Nadal 4-8; Roger Federer 8-5; Novak Djokovic 3-4; Robin Soderling 2-2; Tomas Berdych 1-2; David Ferrer 1-3; Andy Roddick 6-3
2010 Grand Slam record: Australian Open RU; Roland Garros R16; Wimbledon SF; US Open R32
Barclays ATP World Tour Finals best: Making third appearance; semi-finalist in 2008

Season review: A rollercoaster season, but one that provided several triumphant peaks to atone for some difficult lows. While his second Grand Slam final didn’t have the desperately desired outcome, the Scot’s strong end to the year offers yet more hope that he’ll finally clamp his hands around a major title in 2011.

Murray’s intensive Miami fitness regimen throughout the 2009 off-season paid off big time in the first Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne. A super-fit Murray rolled through the gears – and the rounds – defeating Kevin Anderson, Marc Gicquel, Florent Serra and then John Isner to set up a quarter-final with Rafael Nadal. Knowing only a performance of the highest quality would do, the Scot brought the Spaniard to his (then-fragile) knees with a top class display. In to the semis, Murray faced Marin Cilic – who dumped him out of the US Open in 2009. After losing the first set, Murray considerably upped his level, producing a string of near-impossible on-the-run shots to complete the win. Murray looked finally ready to topple Roger Federer off his perch at a slam, but the Scot failed to match the sublime Swiss in the final – a straight sets defeat bringing out the tears and an emotional admission snapped up by the world’s press: “I can cry like Roger, it’s just a shame I can’t play like him.”

The mental and physical toll of defeat so-affected Murray, his form took a dramatic down turn. Apart from a quarter-final run in Indian Wells, Murray suffered below par opening round defeats to Mardy Fish (Miami), Philipp Kohlschreiber (Monte Carlo) and a third round defeat to David Ferrer – albeit on his least favourite surface – in Rome. The Spaniard was victorious again in the Madrid Masters, leaving the British No.1 on a barren spell of form coming into Roland Garros.

A tough first round draw against the former world No.7 Richard Gasquet at the French Open was unfortunate luck, but when the Frenchman ran out of steam in the third set with a two set lead, Murray hit back to win. Still not at his best, he had to battle past Juan Ignacio Chela and Marcos Baghdatis, but could do nothing to prevent the big-hitting Tomas Berdych from running him over in three.

Back on home soil, and even in spite of his recent form, Murray was expected to finally end the 74-year wait for a British Grand Slam champion. A last 16 exit to Fish in his title defence at Queen’s didn’t give him much confidence ahead of Wimbledon, but everything changed once Murray descended on the inspiring grounds of SW19. The Brit swatted away Jan Hajek, Jarkko Neiminen, Gilles Simon and Sam Querrey in three sets. His form looked to have returned when he came from a set down to crush Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarters. But in his second successive semi-final at the All England Club, the Scot came up against a red hot Nadal, who outclassed him for a 6-4 7-6(6) 6-4 victory.

The run, coupled with splitting up with his coach Miles Maclagan, turned out to be a significant turning point in Murray’s season as he headed for his second stint on the hard stuff. The 23-year-old reached the final in Los Angeles before managing back-to-back wins over Nadal and Federer to capture his 15th career title in Toronto. Despite losing to Fish in the  Cincinnati quarters, Murray looked in great shape for another crack at his favoured US Open. But he lost his way in bizarre circumstance, crashing out in the third round against a visibly struggling Stanislas Wawrinka.

Bruised by the defeat, Murray lost to Ivan Ljubicic in Beijing, but managed to pull himself together to secure the Shanghai Masters title -with another win over Federer – without dropping a set.

The 2009 Valencia Open champion succeeded again in the Spanish city, albeit winning his first doubles title with brother Jamie. Murray then put together a couple of strong results indoors in Paris to show enough promising signs that he has the ability to win the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals title in front of a home crowd.

Last year’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals: The round robin format conspired against him last year to prevent him from reaching the semi-finals. Murray got off to a terrific start to beat the recently crowned US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro, was then edged out by Federer, but came through to beat Fernando Verdasco. Left to await the outcome of Del Potro’s match with Federer, which the Argentine won, Murray missed out on a place by a solitary game.

Chances: Murray is a potent threat on the quick indoor courts and with a dash of luck and a healthy dollop of British support, he could well win it…

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