Just finished watching Andy Murray win the Miami final against David Ferrer. After losing the first set 6-2, looking like he couldn't hit a ball on the strings to save his life, he came back and won an ugly second set 6-4. The third set started with 6 breaks of serve until Ferrer finally held to go up 4-3. Somehow, Murray managed to stumble his way in to a tie breaker where he finally dominated, the way he should against Ferrer. I had to change the channel several times in frustration during the match and didn't even watch the tiebreaker because I couldn't bear it.
It just seems to me that all of Andy Murray's big matches are like this. He somehow finds a way to fall apart, or, as in the case with Ferrer, who plays the same game as Murray with less size, power, speed, serve, somehow manages to win ugly.
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It is a hard life that I live, Paul. Tennis isn't easy and so I guess I like Andy because, in a way, he is the consummate underdog. I mean, come on, did anyone really think he would win a major? He plays up or down to the level of his opponent, kinda like this other guy I root for.
But, he's not the consumate underdog. He's the consumate underacheiver. He's a physical specimen, a beast, who hits the ball as well as anyone in the game, but, who probably causes more heart attacks than Philip Morris. If he isn't seizing defeat from the jaws of victory, he's coming so close that, if you're a fan, you have to be a pathological masochist to watch his matches, any matches, at any level of a tournament. He can melt down any time, anywhere. He's never safe. I do think that Ivan Lendl has helped him, but, not as much as one would expect.
David Ferrer is the consumate underdog/overacheiver. It's easy to root for him because (1) he wins the matches he's supposed to win, and (2) you don't expect him to win in the final or even semifinal, but, you admire his blood and guts effort on every point, and if he does bring down Goliath - it's a bonus.
As soon as I typed out "consummate underdog", I knew I was going to get pushback on that. I think you make some great points about why he probably shouldn't be the underdog. But his performance in big matches, his track record, has made him an underdog because we never really expect him to win the big ones. Ferrer is indeed a working man's tennis player. I love his fight, but a bit of the shine went off him when I heard him interviewed and he said that he will never be as good as the top 4 (that's a paraphrase). I don't want to hear him, or any player, ever say that. Also, it is so appropriate that he is named David and I am not sure I really thought about that before.
Andy did it again. Another cardiac match, this time against Simon, and a disappointing loss to Berdych. I don't know about you, but, when Fed and Djoko were eliminated, I expected Andy to at least get to the final against Ralph. It seems like he just doesn't believe in himself.
Well, not on clay, he doesn't. I think the most we can hope for at RG this year is a semi-final appearance, but more likely the quarters. I was really shocked that Fed could lose to a middle of the pack guy like Nishikori - sign of things to come from Fed.
Given Andy's game and retriever mentality, it seems to me that, if anything, clay should be his strength, no? In any event, clay doesn't demand much difference stylistically than most of the slow hard courts the pros play on now-a-days.
As for Fed, my understanding is that at least one of the reasons he seemed to decline a bit after 2007 was because of mononucleosis. It hit Andy Roddick pretty hard and, apparently, ended Robin Soderling's career. I wonder if he was struggling with it when he lost to DelPotro at the USO. To me, Fed looked like he gave up in the 5th set. Maybe he was still infected. Having said that, assuming Fed fully recovered from that, I'd say his "A" game is a notch lower than it was in 2007, and it doesn't show up as often, either.
Andy doesn't have as much spin as the other guys, and on clay, the clay demands it. He closes the racquet face at the back end of the swing and he opens it. But he does not go more left and upwards on the ball as much as Djoko or Nadal, nor does he rotate his hips hard like Ferrer.
Andy pushes into the ball, but not especially hard as Andre would in the day. So that is why some guys call Andy a pusher. His talent is that he can angle the left and right aspect of his contact, by playing with the timing. But the ball sits up on clay, so that sort of angling is nullified to a certain extent. So that is why Agassi was able to win a French, through hard angling shots. Andy is not a hard hitting angler on the level of Agassi.