2014/08/28

Andy Murray Opens Wimbledon Title Defense with a Victory over David Goffin

 

(June 23, 2014) WIMBLEDON – Defending champion Andy Murray was welcomed with a standing ovation as he entered Wimbledon Centre Court on Monday. The Scot made the audience happy with a straight set win over Belgium’s David Goffin 6-1, 6-4, 7-5.

“Obviously, like I said the other day, I was pretty nervous and stuff before the match,” Murray said.  “Then when you’re walking to the court, you know, I have a lot of memories obviously from last year.

“Yeah, to come to the court and get that reception, yeah, it was very nice to come out.  I think the crowd was pretty much full from the start.  It was great.

“Yeah, enjoyed it for the walk to the chair.  Then when I sat down, it was time to get on with business”.

“I played very well.” said the world No. 5. “I hit the ball very well.  I hit the ball clean from the beginning of the match.  There wasn’t any moments where I felt like I was mistiming balls.  I hit the ball clean.

“I thought the second and third sets were very high level.  I thought he played very well.  He was aggressive.  He goes for his shots.  He moves extremely well.  He’s very quick around the court.  He has great hands up at the net, as well.

“I thought he played some really good tennis.  He played a bad game from 40-Love up at 5-All in the third set.  But it was very good.”

Among those in the Royal Box watching the Scot, were special guests Murray’s father and grandparents and retired NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, along with his girlfriend.

Murray was asked about “the big Aristotle in press.

“I saw him after the match,” Murray said, “just when I came off.  I never met him before.

“But, yeah, he’s a big boy, that’s for sure.  He was huge,” Murray said with a big grin.

“Yeah, he’s very entertaining.  I watch him on the TV a lot when I’m over in the States.  Yeah, he said that was the first time he’d been to the tennis before.  He enjoyed it.  It was nice. “

Murray will play Blaz Rola of Slovenia in the second round, who moved on a 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 victory against Pablo Andujar of Spain. Rola said about playing Murray on Centre Court next, “Hopefully, I don’t poop my pants and don’t play well.”

 

Related Article:

Shaquille O’Neal is a Special Guest in the Royal Box for Andy Murray’s Opening Wimbledom Match

 

 

Karen Pestaina at Wimbledon

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All Will Hail the Conquering Hero as Andy Murray Opens Wimbledon on Monday

 

(June 22, 2014) WIMBLEDON – Andy Murray will receive a conquering hero’s welcome when takes Wimbledon Centre Court on Monday at one o’clock as he opens to defend his 2013 title. Murray broke the 77-year-old curse, as no man from Great Britain laid claim to Wimbledon since Fred Perry won the title back in 1936.

The 2012 year was a special year for the Scotsman Murray, as he won his first major title at the U.S. Open, just after winning the gold medal at the London Olympics. Opening the Wimbledon fortnight Wimbledon will be a memorable day for the world No. 5 and third seed.

“Tomorrow when I sort of go out on the court, I need to enjoy that moment when I walk back on the court,” Murray said.

“But as soon as I start playing the match, yeah, it’s about trying to win.  And, yeah, I enjoy winning.  That’s it.  I mean, you know, I don’t really want to go out on the court tomorrow and enjoy playing and then lose.

“I would rather, you know, enjoy a win, and that’s what I’ll try to do.  But it’s time when I get on the court to start concentrating.  Not think about last year, concentrate on this year’s tournament, and that’s it.”

Murray was asked about the extreme pressure he had to deal with on account of the British male Grand Slam futility. “I think I handled them fairly well,” Murray said.  “This has been my most consistent tournament throughout my career.  I haven’t lost before the semis for the first few years.  I’d always played pretty good tennis here.

“I maybe could have played a bit better in the latter stages of the event in some of the years.  But I feel in terms of handling the pressure, you know, there was a lot of it, and I think I did okay.

“Last year the final was definitely the most pressure I’d felt in all the years I’d played here.  So, yeah, I managed to come through it.  I think that comes with age and experience.

Questions were posed to Murray about his unique selection for his new coach, Amelie Mauresmo former No. 1 player on the WTA tour. Very few women coach male pros.

“I think, first of all, you can talk about her accomplishments on the tennis court,” Murray said of his new coach.  “She won a lot.  She was No. 1 in the world.  She won multiple Grand Slams.  She got to latter stages of slams very often.

“I think she was someone who struggled with nerves and conquered them later in her career, which I think when you start to coach someone, I think you can help more than someone that hasn’t had those issues before.

“She understands the psychological part of the game maybe more than some because of that.

“And in terms of what she’s like, her game style, she had quite a creative game style.  She used a lot of spins, slices, she came to the net, good variety in her game.  That’s something that I’ve always tried to use during my career.  So I think she can help with that.

“And then in terms of what she’s like as a person, she’s a very, very nice person.  She’s very easy to speak to.  She’s very easy to communicate with.  She listens well.  She’s firm, as well.

“So there are the reasons why I wanted to give it a shot, and hopefully it will work out well.”

“It was about finding the right personality with the right experience to help me,” Murray stated about choosing Mauresmo.

“I think she will help me.  I’ve really enjoyed the last ten days I spent on the court with her.  It’s been great.

“And, yeah, if it helps sort of bring more female coaches into men’s sport and women’s sport there’s not that many female coaches on the women’s side either that’s a good thing.

“Because there’s absolutely no reason why someone like Amélie can’t help me.

“It’s possible it doesn’t work.  It has nothing to do with whether she’s a woman or not.  That’s not why it will work or not work.  That’s how I feel about it.”

“But my mom will tell you this is history,” Murray added.  “One of the coaches that I also loved when I was growing up that I traveled with was Olga Morazova.  I actually saw her in the car park here the other day.  I always found her great fun to be around.  I learned a lot from her when I was a kid, too.

“A lot of the female coaches that I have been around.  Although there’s not been many of them, I’ve always enjoyed working with them.”

Murray will face 104th-ranked David Goffin of Belgium on Monday. Murray spoke about his opponent’s good tennis in the past at big events.

“He doesn’t mind the big stage,” he said.  “And, yeah, he’s solid.  He’s a solid player in all parts of the court.  It will be a tricky match.”

 

Karen Pestaina at Wimbledon

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After the Clay, a Pain in the Grass

 

By Wendy M. Grossman

 

(June 13, 2014) LONDON – The most spectacular day of tennis every year is the first day of Queen’s Club. The day before is the French Open final, the culmination of months of looking at crushed-brick courts and players knocking the burnt-orangey dust out of the treads on their shoes. The next morning the courts are bright emerald-green and everything old is new again. It’s grass season.

 

The difficulty of the shift is underlined by the abrupt change in cast. All of a sudden, the tour is awash in tall, skinny beanpoles whopping down serves from the height of a basketball hoop. Physically, even the best-adapted grass-court player pays a price for the change.

 

“My back,” said Kevin Anderson, when asked what body part hurts the most. He explains: the ball stays definitely lower. At 6 foot 8, Anderson has to bend a lot anyway – but the need is more pronounced on grass, and he has to reach more and farther because of the way grass can skid a ball away from you. “I feel it more on grass.” Apparently he’s happy to help dish out the pain, naming the backhand slice, which notoriously stays low and skids off the grass, as the shot he most needs to get in gear for the grass season.

 

Andy Murray, coming off his third-round loss to Radek Stepanek, noted the “little pains” because of the change of surface (while not blaming them for the loss). You use different muscles, and you use them differently, he said, than on clay, where he finds that the sliding makes his quads hurt most. On grass, he says his lower back, butt, and hamstrings “can get a bit stiff”.

 

Stanislas Wawrinka said, “You have to be lower on your feet, and sometimes the knee or the back can be difficult. But this year was OK. I had time to adapt myself.”

 

Grigor Dimitrov, because of his early loss at the French Open, has also had more time to adjust than some of the others. He said he spent last week running 25 miles, which, he says, has added up: “the quads, the glutes”. In general, he says, “I think the part that really hurts the most on grass is the lower back, the glutes, and the adductors. I think those are the parts that always, even if you play the shortest two sets, the next day you’re gonna come back and feel a little funky.”

 

What seems to definitely help is experience. Radek Stepanek, who beat Murray in the third round and followed up by downing Anderson in the quarters, said “I know exactly which muscles are going to hurt me after the first two days on grass. I’m protecting them already before coming here with the prevention exercises.” The issue for him, he said, is glutes and lower back. Despite the preventive work he does, though, he said wryly, “It always comes anyway, but you know, I’m trying to adjust the level of pain, you know, as low as I can.”

 

Leave it to Dimitrov to put the whole thing in perspective: “[I] don’t really care any more, because with or without pain, it doesn’t really matter.”

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Andy Murray Falls to Radek Stepanek in Queen’s Club Third Round

 

 

 

By Wendy M. Grossman

(June 12, 2014) LONDON – “You can tell Andy’s playing, There’s no queue.” Yes: 4pm in London, tea set out with strawberries, cakes, and sandwiches, and no one in sight.

Andy Murray was indeed out playing on the Queen’s Club centre court on a sunny, hot-for-England day (a ball girl had to be led off court and given water). His opponent: Radek Stepanek, the sort of veteran Czech player whose sharp volleys and grass court sense you don’t want to face a few days after making the switch from clay.

In the first set, Stepanek led 5-4, fashioned a break point on the Murray serve, and lost it to a sharp Murray angle into his backhand corner. At 6-2, Murray, in the tiebreak, it seemed clear Murray was going to prevail. And then stuff happened: Murray got hesitant and stopped hitting quite so hard; Stepanek went on playing well. Murray had more set points, at 7-6, and 8-7 (netted the return), and 9-8 (Stepanek into Murray’s backhand corner), and 10-9 (return long). And then Murray sent up a beautiful lob at 10-10, and…well, it was beautiful until it landed long. Stepanek, offered a second set point of his own, promptly scored a nice angled volley winner. Game and first set.

Stepanek scored a break at the beginning of the second set, and never let go after that, eventually winning 7-6(10), 6-2.

“I thought the first set was a pretty high standard,” Murray said afterwards, adding that given the number of set points he’d had, “I’ve only got myself to blame.”

Stepanek called it “a great win for me”, adding that, “you always want to come out and play your best against the best players”.

There aren’t many players left with Stepanek’s serve and volley style. Stepanek would like to see more of it; Murray might too, given that he’s often been successful at using such players as easy targets to pass.

The upshot is that where last year Murray lost early at the French Open and had ten days of grass-court practice in England before the season started, this year he came into Queen’s with only two days to make the shift, and now will go into Wimbledon with only two grass-court matches played. He plans to take the next few days off, then begin again on Sunday with the “Rally for Bally” charity match to raise money in the memory of the late British player Elena Baltacha. He’ll start practicing in earnest Sunday evening, looking to improve his service return and get used to the lower-bouncing balls. “I was too upright on the court, especially when I was rushed,” he said.

 

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Andy Murray Names Amelie Mauresmo as his New Coach

Andy Murray smiling

(June 8, 2014) Andy Murray has named former pro Amelie Mauresmo as his new coach. Mauresmo, who is the French Fed Cup captain is a former No. 1 player and won the Australian Open and Wimbledon championships in 2006.

“He’s an amazingly talented tennis player and I feel I have plenty to offer both him and the team around him,” Mauresmo said to media. “I’m looking forward to getting down to work and helping him win more Grand Slams.”

Murray has been without a coach since he parted ways with Ivan Lendl in March.

Here is the statement from Andy Murray’s website:

Andy has appointed French coach and former World Number 1, Amelie Mauresmo, as his new coach, initially for the grass court season.

Amelie, the current French Fed Cup Captain, has won two Grand Slam singles titles, Wimbledon and the Australian Open alongside a Silver Medal at the 2004 Olympics.  She has also worked with several top French tennis players, recently helping Marion Bartoli win her first major at Wimbledon in 2013.

Andy said of the appointment: “I’m excited by the possibilities of the new partnership and Amelie is someone I have always looked up to and admired.  She’s faced adversity plenty of times in her career, but was an amazing player and won major titles, including Wimbledon.”

“I have a very strong coaching team already in place, but I think Amelie brings with her experience and tactical expertise and will push us all to improve.  Everyone I know talks very highly of Amelie, as a person and coach, and I’m convinced that her joining the team will help us push on – I want to win more grand slams.”

Amelie Mauresmo added: “I’m really excited to be able to work with Andy.  He’s an amazingly talented tennis player and I feel I have plenty to offer both him and the team around him.  I’m looking forward to getting down to work and helping him win more Grand Slams.”

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Rafael Nadal Routs Andy Murray to Reach Ninth Roland Garros Final

 

 

(June 6, 2014) Rafael Nadal will play in the French Open title for the ninth time after crushing Andy Murray 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 on Friday. The win extends his record streak to 34 straight wins at Roland Garros. He is now 65-1 in Paris.

The world No. 1 and eight-time champion moved out to a 3-0 lead to begin the match and never had to look back.

“It was a bad, bad day,” Murray said.

Nadal will face Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final. Djokovic beat Ernests Gulbis 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

The No. 1 ranking will be at stake in the final, with the winner claiming the top spot.

“It’s unbelievable to be in [a ninth] final,” Nadal said. “It’s very emotional for me. When I was a kid, to come here any day and play. Now, 10 years coming here. It’s something I’ll never forget in my life.”

It will be Nadal’s 20 Grand Slam final, second on the all-time list to Roger Federer’s 24.

More to follow…

 

Novak Djokovic Reaches Second French Open Final

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Novak Djokovic Reaches Second French Open Final

 

(June 6, 2014) No. 2 Novak Djokovic advanced to his second French Open final on Friday defeating 18th seed Ernests Gulbis 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. For the 27-year-old Djokovic it will be his 13th major tournament final appearance. Djokovic has won 6 Grand Slam titles and is hoping to complete a career Grand Slam, should he capture the Roland Garros title. Djokovic lost in the 2012 final to Rafael Nadal.

In the opening set in the third game, Djokovic dug out of 15-40 and saved two break points to hold for 2-2. The critical game in the first set came in the next game as Djokovic needed four break point chances, but broke the Latvian’s serve for 3-2. Djokovic went on to win the next three games to close out the first set 6-3.

In the second set, both men held to form until the eight game when a Gulbis double fault gave Djokovic a break point chance which he took for a 5-3 lead when Gulbis sent a forehand shot long. Djokovic took the set 6-3 on his third set point.

In the third set Djokovic saved break points in the second and sixth games, but in the eighth game, Gulbis, making his first appearance in a major semifinal, finally took advantage to take a 5-3 lead to serve for the set. During the set Gulbis appeared to be stretching his back as though it were bothering him. The 18th seed captured the third set with an ace to send the match into a fourth set.

Djokovic broke Gulbis’ serve to go up 2-0 but is broken back at 15 to get back on serve. In frustration, Djokovic broke his racquet.

The set stayed even until the eighth game, when the Serbian broke the Latvian’s serve to go up 5-3. Djokovic closed the match out on his serve 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

“First two sets went well,” Djokovic said.  “I thought I played well, very solid, putting a lot of returns back in the court, serving at the high percentage.”
“Then suddenly midway through the third set started to feel physically fatigued a little bit, and you could feel that.  You could see that both me and him, we struggled on the court.

“It happens, you know.  It happens in the tournament, and important thing for me is that I realize what’s going on.  It’s nothing serious.  I’m going to have now two days of recovery and get ready for the final.”

“Difference in the match was, first of all, I’m not used to play these kind of big matches,” Gulbis said.  “It’s just normal I felt extra nervous and extra tense.
“I can take one positive side out of the match:  that I could still win a third set feeling that nervous and that extra tired, and I saw that he was feeling the same.  So it’s not only me.
“That’s one thing what I take for the future.  I take it out of this match.  Was a good thing.”

Djokovic will play  8-time champion Rafael Nadal in Sunday’s final.

More to follow…

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Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray Beat the Darkness to Move into Roland Garros Semifinal

Rafael Nadal

(June 4, 2014) Rafael Nadal  and Andy Murray booked their spots in the French Open semifinals on Wednesday.

Nadal rebounded from a first set loss to dismantle fellow Spaniard Davis Ferrer 4-6, 6-4, 6-0, 6-1, wining 13 out of the last 14 games for the win.

No. 7 Andy Murray beat not only 23rd seed Gael Monfils of France and the French crowd, but the sunset in a topsy-turvy match 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 1-6, 6-0 in three hours and 15 minutes, which ended in almost complete darkness.

For Murray this will be his second time in the final four of the French Open when He plays Nadal on Friday. Murray lost to Nadal in the semis in 2011.

Murray dominated the first two sets and then the tide turned on in this cast the wind blew.

“I could see that the wind was not blowing as hard as it used to in the two first sets,” Monfils said of his comeback. “In the second set I was thinking, ‘Well, I hope the wind is gonna calm down.’ This is what happened.”

Monfils’ confidence grew as well as his crown support in the third and fourth sets. The 27-year-old Scot Murray totally dominated the fifth set, keep his opponent to a mere 6 points won in the final set.

“I didn’t win the first game when I was in a position to win it, and then I rushed it,” admitted the Frenchman to media. “I tried my forehand and my shots were out, and then it went very fast.”

For Rafael Nadal, his road to the final 8 was an easy one, not facing one seeded player. Ferrer started out playing aggressively, but came up short on drive and shot execution.

After dropping the first set, the 8-time French Open winner’s game went into overdrive, winning 18 of the next 23 games on the second show court, Suzanne Lenglen before darkness could fall.

“I am rather happy to have been able to turn the situation around,” said Nadal in his post-match interview. “I managed to pull through. Even though it was complicated, I managed to find solutions during the second set.”

“Today I was not good enough for this match,” said Ferrer. “I lost my focus. I was too slow, and I think I didn’t play the game of a Top 10. This is why I’m sad. It’s my attitude, my behavior on the court.”

Nadal will play Andy Murray for a place in the final. Nadal holds a 14-5 head-to-head record against the Scot.

“He can play very well on all the surfaces,” said Nadal in press. “It’s nothing new that he plays very well on clay. It’s not the first time he’s in semi-finals of Roland Garros. He’s a candidate to win Roland Garros.”

 

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Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray Move into Third Round of French Open

 

 

(May 29, 2014) Four-time defending champion Rafael Nadal put down one of the up-and-coming young guns of the men’s tour Dominic Thiem of Austria 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday. The victory ups the world No. 1′s record at the French Open to 61-1, the lone loss coming in 2009.

At times, Thiem displayed his promise with all out shots, but Nadal’s stability and  experience was too much for the 20-year-old.

“It was a dangerous match, dangerous opponent today,” Nadal said to reporters “I am happy with the way I resisted. When I had to play long points I did well. When I had to attack and move him, I think I did well.”

Nadal emphasized that his young opponent will have chances in the furture at the major tournaments.

Nadal is trying to become the first man to win five straight French Open titles. He has won the tournament 8 times.

Fifth seeded David Ferrer of Spain, Seventh seeded Scotland’s Andy Murray, and 12th seeded Richard Gasquet of France also advanced to the third round  of Roland Garros in straight sets.

Andy Murray overpowered Australian Marinko Matosevic 6-3, 6-1, 6-3.

“It was a good serving performance today, especially when I was down in games,” Murray said. “In the game I got broken right at the end, it was not down to my serving, really. I just missed a few other shots. I was just trying to make sure that my intensity was there every moment, especially at the beginning of the sets. I managed to get ahead early in all of them, and that helped.”

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Djokovic Fends Off a Strong Murray Challenge to Reach Miami Semis

 

By Kevin Ware

(March 26, 2014) Wednesday’s quarterfinal match between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray was undoubtedly going to provide a good test for both heading into the clay season. For Djokovic, it would provide a test of his newfound confidence after winning Indian Wells. For Murray, it would provide a much-needed gauge for the status of his game as well as his fitness.

In the end, Djokovic won in straight sets 7-5, 6-3. But it would be safe to say that each player got what they needed from this encounter.

Conditions were windy at the start of the match, and picked up slightly throughout the match. Djokovic initially handled the conditions best, hitting cleanly with depth from both sides. and effectively his serve. Conversely, Murray started loosely with shanks on his forehand wing and backhands into the net.

Fortunately for Murray, his stellar defense was on full display, saving him in many of the longer rallies. And any questions of fitness after his back issues in the R16 were answered as Murray sprinted from sideline to sideline in pursuit of Djokovic’s shots: with no sign of his signature grabbing at his back or legs.

The first real signs of trouble for Murray came in the fourth game. His only double fault of the first set gave Djokovic his first break point of the match. Murray fended off that break point, and then another, before winning the game with a spectacular forehand crosscourt shot that the replay showed kissed the outside of the line.

Djokovic faced his first break point of the match in the eleventh game after back-to-back double faults. The break was saved by an untimely forehand unforced error from Murray: one of his 29 unforced errors on the day. Novak held with an ace, forcing Murray to hold to force the tiebreak.

Controversy followed, however, in the twelfth game when a strong Djokovic return on the Murray serve set up an easy volley at the net. Replays on the stadium’s monitors showed Djokovic reaching over the net. Murray, who’d initially questioned the chair, saw his suspicions confirmed. He argued for the point, but to no avail.

Djokovic came to the net with Murray, and admitted reaching over to hit the volley. He wasn’t aware of any rule against doing so, and thought he’d won the point. “I thought that it’s allowed, to cross, you know, the racquet on his side without touching the net. That’s why I thought I won the point. I did not know that the rule is that I’m not allowed to cross the net.”

Murray, who was clearly distracted by the chair’s refusal to grant him the point, lost the next three points to lose the service game at love and with it, the set. “He (the umpire) said, yes, he was over the net, but he was in line with the net, so I didn’t understand really.”

In spite of the controversy, Murray acknowledged that it was only one game. He declined to give it any more credit than due, focusing instead on his missed chances in the second set. “I mean, it maybe had a slight bearing on that game, but I was still up a break in the second set.”

That break came in the fifth game when, in spite of two well-placed aces, Djokovic was broken for the first time in the match. Instead of making the most of this opportunity, Murray played a loose game and was broken again to level at 3-all. Novak played well enough, but Murray was hurt by two ill-timed double faults (five in total) and few more unforced errors.

After leveling the set, Djokovic wasted little time in closing out the match. He won the final three games at love, sealing the win with a forehand down the line passing shot. It wasn’t his best tennis, but Djokovic certainly forced Murray to play at the highest level from the very first point.

“I expected him to play well, to be a little bit more aggressive. I watched him play against (Jo-Wilfried) Tsonga, and he was stepping in on the second serve, coming to the net. He did that few times successfully today.”

“Winning the first set, obviously it gave me the certain kind of relief and confidence, and then in the second, even when I was broken, I felt like I still have chances and I still, you know, believe that I could win in straight sets.”

For his part, Murray was pleased about his performance. “I think my game is just about there. It’s not far off. I had many opportunities today like 30-All games and Love-30 (games) on his serve, and I didn’t serve so well when I went ahead in the second set.”

Even with the first-set controversy, there were positives Murray could take from this loss. “I would have liked to have done that better, but I was hitting the ball better from the back of the court. I was playing aggressive. I was taking the ball early. I was trying to come forward a bit. My game is not far from where I want it to be.”

Kevin Ware is in Key Biscayne covering the Sony Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

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