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Murray shows his mettle to down del Potro

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:50

Andy Murray is off and rolling at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals after posting a hard-fought 6-3 3-6 6-2 victory over US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro.

The world No.4 got off to a flier against the US Open champion before the Argentine showed Murray and the 17,467-strong crowd inside the O2 arena just how he lifted his maiden major in September. But an early break in the third set swung the momentum in favour of the Scot, who broke once more to seal his opening Group A victory.

The start of the match was important,” admitted the world No.4 afterwards. “Me and Juan haven’t played that much since the US Open – I expected a scrappy match. He didn’t start particularly well, but after 5-0 I thought the standard was very good.”

After surviving a shaky opening game Murray was the quicker of the two to settle into his rhythm in the vast arena, converting his first break point with a sublime forehand pass. All eyes were on the Argentine to see whether he was still suffering with either the wrist or abdominal injuries that had blighted his form since beating Federer in New York back in September.

The Argentine had been working on his rehabilitation in Milan ahead of the Finals, and showed no ill effects other than match-rust. It took him four games to find his range with both the forehand and backhand not a problem that Murray was suffering with.

The Scot extended his lead to 5-0 and had points to post a bagel in game six, but del Potro cranked up the pressure as his forehand began to connect. After getting his name on the board the world No.5 claimed one of the breaks back, suddenly shifting the pressure onto Murray to close out the set.

He did, but after winning five games on the bounce Murray saw six of the next seven go against him as the complexion of the match changed entirely. With Murray unable to keep the ball away from the forehand of the suddenly mobile Argentine, he was left looking helpless in the face of a barrage of a string of brutal groundstrokes. Murray battled back to keep the score respectable and briefly threatened to break back in game seven, but del Potro was at times unplayable, closing the set out with a bullet cross-court forehand winner.

After berating himself throughout the second, the Scot returned in a positive frame of mind at the start of the third, redoubling his efforts to keep the ball in play and forcing del Potro to generate his own pace by keeping the ball slow and low. The tactic paid dividends immediately as errors from the Argentine saw him slide 3-0 behind.

Trailing once more and with Murray now on a roll, del Potro could not respond as the sluggish movement of the first set returned. Murray nearly broke for a 5-1 lead but was denied by two huge serves, but it was no more than a stay of execution for a man who had accepted his own fate. Two double faults in his last service game were testament to a tame defeat at the end of a thrilling tie.

“Against Andy the match is always very tough, we play three sets in every tournament, every match,” said the Argentine. “Today was a little strange but he played great tennis in the third set. He was a little lucky but you need the luck to win, and today it was with him.”

The doubles draws also got underway with a bang earlier in the day as Polish duo Marcin Matkowski and Mariusz Fyrstenberg upset world No.1s Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic 6-4 6-4.

Fyrstenberg and Matkowski, the final pair to qualify for the season finale, produced a virtually flawless display to subdue the Wimbledon champions a result that keeps the Bryan brothers in with a shot at the year-end world No.1 spot.

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