Nalbandian halts Murray run
Originally published on: 26/02/10 12:08
The Scot ran out of gas after 14 straight victories, which took in tournament successes at the Madrid Masters and the St Petersburg Open, as he was dumped out 7-6 (7/3) 6-3 by the Argentinian, the eighth seed in the French capital.
Murray’s bid to become the first player to win three successive Masters Series events fell short but he will be the first to admit he was beaten by the better man.
Nalbandian is a self-confessed lover of indoor tournaments, winning last year’s title in stunning fashion, and he always seemed to hold the whip hand in the first set.
He was the first to break, in the fourth game, but Murray responded in the very next game by claiming the first of his two break points when his opponent sent a forehand wide.
Murray, the fourth seed, had to save five break points in his next two service games as Nalbandian piled on the pressure, but he had found some poise by the time the tie-break came around.
Murray quickly slipped 4-1 down, though, and although he saved one set point, Nalbandian was spot on with a forehand winner to take it 7-3.
The British number one was broken in his first service game of the second set when his weak backhand found the net, but he restored parity in the fourth game when he came up with an amazing diagonal winner on the stretch on the second of his break points.
It looked as if he had turned the corner but Nalbandian stepped up a gear, sending Murray all over the court and again breaking at the second time of asking to go 3-2 up.
The two players went on to trade breaks but Nalbandian’s third break of the set, in the ninth game, secured him a semi-final date with either Rafael Nadal or Nikolay Davydenko.