title victory

US Open Preview: Murray vs Federer

Andy Murray’s recent impressive defence of his Toronto Master’s title following back to back victories over Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, has meant that once again he is one of the firm favourites for the US Open which starts tomorrow.

The final marked a welcome return to the more aggressive style of play witnessed before the devastating psychological impact of losing to Roger Federer in the Australian Open at the start of the year. The Canadian fans were treated to a more focused and mature performance from the young Scot, unnerved by the rain delays and the prospect of facing his arch nemesis once again, prevailing 7-5, 7-5 to record his first title victory of the season.

The win brought Murray’s head to head record to seven wins out of twelve against the majestic Swiss master, but the world waits with baited breath to see whether he can maintain his form throughout the grueling two weeks of a Grand Slam or simply continue his reign as the best player never to have won a major.

Murray remains confident of his chances and revealed, “I feel very fresh after taking a couple of days off after reaching the quarter finals in Cincinnati and right now I’m fine physically. The Toronto win was very good for the confidence and now I’ve been in New York, a city I love, for a week. I feel good which is important because I know I have got to produce my best tennis.”

Indeed, on recent form and the shape of the US Open draw, Murray is likely to face Federer once again in the final, with Rafael Nadal certainly less impressive during the American hard court season. While each feels equally confident of victory, their summer preparations couldn’t have been further apart.

Murray has spent the summer enjoying his rekindled romance with Kim Sears, whilst Federer has had to come to terms with balancing being a father to twins with the pressures of the tour; a fact he has taken into consideration when taking on the advice of new coach, Paul Annacone, who also had children early in his playing career. Meanwhile, in July Murray chose to sever ties with his coach of two and a half years, Miles Maclagan.

Will Murray carry on his good form and survive the two weeks unscathed as a lone ranger or will Federer succeed with the inspiration and insight of his new right hand man and former coach of Pete Sampras? Or will a certain Spaniard spoil the party? Be sure to tune and join the rollercoaster ride at Flushing Meadows, but remember to hold on to your hats and glasses folks, as we’re certainly in for some unpredictable twists and turns!

Melina Harris is a freelance sports writer, book editor, English tutor and PTR qualified tennis coach. For more information and contact details please visit and subscribe to her website and blog at http://www.thetenniswriter.wordpress.com and follow her twitter updates @thetenniswriter. She is available for freelance writing, editing and one to one private teaching and coaching.

MURRAY REPEATS WIMBLEDON COMEBACK

By Melina Harris

At two sets to love down to Richard Gasquet in the first round of the French Open on a balmy court Suzanne Lenglen Monday, Andy Murray must have taken heart from his thrilling comeback against the young Frenchman at Wimbledon in 2008, when at two sets to love down, Centre Court erupted as he fought back valiantly to win the match in an epic five set battle, only to be annihilated by eventual winner Rafael Nadal.

After being wiped out by Gasquet’s penetrating backhand in the first two sets, Murray managed to claw his way back with some impressive defensive tennis after his opponent began to show visible signs of fatigue following his impressive title victory against Fernando Verdasco last Saturday in Nice. Gasquet had requested more recovery time, but his appeal was declined, much to Murray’s favor who capitalized in the final three sets to win, 4-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1, completing the victory with an ace into the corner of the advantage court. Gasquet was reflective after the match; “He [Murray] is always fighting, fighting, putting the balls in the court. Even if he is not playing so good, it is very tough to beat him.”

Once the game went into a fifth set, statistically there was only ever going to be one winner; for Andy Murray had won six of his previous seven five set matches, while Richard Gasquet had lost a miserable eight out of his past nine. The match lasted a lengthy 4 hours and 4 minutes, causing Murray’s troublesome knee to flare up after the match, which needed intensive icing. The world No. 4 has a bipartite patella (a split right knee cap) which he will have to cope with for the rest of his tennis career. Murray said after the match, “My [right] knee is sore, a four-hour match probably wasn’t the best thing for it. I have to manage the problems as best I can.  It hurts at different times of the year and there is nothing I can do about it because it was just something I was born with and I am going to have to deal with it for the rest of my career. It’s a lot worse than people think and hurts for the majority of the year.”

His knee issue is not the only problem he will have to overcome to continue further into the tournament, his low first serve percentage, delivering just 46 percent against Gasquet will have to be improved as it exposes a second serve that everyone in the game is well aware lacks penetration; a weakness that the clay court specialists will inevitably pounce on with devastating accuracy. However, Murray was brimming with confidence when asked about his second round clash with Juan Ignacio Chela, the Argentine he beat in straight sets in Madrid last week, stating “Chela is a very good player but I feel good going into the match and will be confident.”  He has an impressive one hundred percent record against the Argentine, winning each of the five encounters between the pair, so Murray can afford to go into the second round with a positive frame of mind, while British fans will still undoubtedly be holding their breath!

Melina Harris is a freelance sports writer, book editor, English tutor and PTR qualified tennis coach. For more information and contact details please visit and subscribe to her website and blog at http://www.thetenniswriter.wordpress.com and follow her twitter updates via http://www.twitter.com/thetenniswriter.   She is available for freelance writing, editing and one to one private teaching and coaching.