Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Andy Murray’s inconsistent history at the Miami Masters


Andy Murray’s inconsistent history at the Miami Masters

The Sony Open Tennis 2013 is set to begin next week, and once again expectations will be high for the British number one, Andy Murray.

Often, top players have a favourite tournament at which they always seem to perform well; whether it is due to the playing surface, the facilities, the location or the crowds, there are certain events that bring out the best in the elite. For Roger Federer, it is Wimbledon, for Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros, and for Novak Djokovic, the Australian Open. Andy Murray has won several events twice, but hasn’t had an extended period of dominance in any one place.

However, his results have fluctuated more at the Miami Masters than almost anywhere else. Here is a brief look at Murray’s playing history in Florida.

2006: lost to Wawrinka, first round

Murray’s debut in Miami, as a talented but undisciplined 18-year-old, ended abruptly with an opening round defeat to the Swiss number two, Stanislas Wawrinka. The Scot mounted an impressive comeback from two breaks down in the final set, but a heavy recent schedule took its toll, and he tumbled out of the tournament 7-5, 3-6, 6-4.

2007: lost to Djokovic, semi-final

Murray’s run to the last four in Miami in 2007 was one of his best results of his young career. He was initially very fortunate - coming through a tough fourth round clash with Paul-Henri Mathieu and advancing when his quarter-final opponent, Andy Roddick, retired - but his luck ran out in the semi-finals, when Novak Djokovic thrashed him for the loss of only one game.

2008: lost to Ancic, first round

Murray’s 2008 Miami Masters campaign was over before it had even begun. Facing the big-serving Croatian giant Mario Ancic in the first round, the Scot recovered from the loss of the opening set and held two match points in the final set tie-break. Ancic saved the first, but Murray double faulted on the second, and his opponent took full advantage.

2009: champion

Putting the disappointment of the previous year’s agonisingly close loss behind him, Murray looked like a world-beater at the 2009 Sony Open Tennis. He beat two top ten players on the way to the final in Fernando Verdasco and Juan Martin Del Potro, and scored a third consecutive victory over Djokovic in the showpiece match to lift his third ATP Masters trophy.

2010: lost to Fish, second round

Having risen to the dizzy heights of the world’s top three, with two Grand Slam finals behind him, Murray’s attempt at a successful title defence in Miami was cut short in 2010 by world number 101 Mardy Fish. The American deserved credit for a solid performance, but Murray was well below par, hitting short, serving erratically and generally looking as if he’d rather be anywhere than on a tennis court. He was candid about his failings after the desultory 6-4, 6-4 loss: “Mentally, I’ve been poor over the last few weeks, and that’s unacceptable.”

2011: lost to Bogomolov, second round

In circumstances remarkably similar to those of the previous year, Murray’s opening match in 2011 was against an American with a ranking in triple figures. While he did play more positively against Alex Bogomolov Jr. than he had against Fish, the result was the same: a straight sets defeat. It was Murray’s third consecutive straight sets loss that season, and caused some to question whether he would ever fulfil his promise.

2012: lost to Djokovic, final:

Murray’s fortunes improved again in Miami in 2012. Not only did he overcome illness and Janko Tipsarevic in a draining three-set quarter-final, but he was also handed two walkover victories when Milos Raonic and Rafael Nadal were forced to pull out of the tournament. Once again, however, he ran into an unstoppable Novak Djokovic in the final. Murray’s backhand and return, usually his biggest strengths, deserted him, and the Serb capitalised to win a gruelling contest 6-1, 7-6.

Given Murray’s changeable run of results in Miami, it is difficult to predict how he will fare at the 2013 Sony Open Tennis. As he did in 2010 and 2011, Murray heads into next week’s event having lost the Australian Open final. Yet his attitude has improved immeasurably since then, and the US Open champion knows he can win on the sport’s biggest stages. A second title in Key Biscayne may not be guaranteed, but another early loss would be surprising.

Written by Steve Webb from Miami-Masters-Live.com