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Relaxed Murray targets Federer re-match

Jonathan Overend | 17:25 UK time, Sunday, 30 August 2009

At home Andy Murray uses the tube and is often spotted - iPod in his ears - at some South London station. Heading abroad, he hops into cattle class with the rest of us and here in New York he gets bored of waiting for courtesy cars and takes the shuttle bus.

His only daily requirement isn't a private jet, a chauffeur, a top floor suite or a bodyguard, it's the wake-up, strong coffee from over the road - which, obviously, he gets himself.

The world number two remains firmly down to earth on the sidewalks of the Big Apple, one of his favourite cities, as he prepares to try and match, or perhaps better, his excellent performance here in 2008 when he reached the final.

On Saturday, he hit on three different courts at Flushing Meadows as he honed his preparations for the final major of the tennis year, which begins on Monday.

A comedy knockabout with Hollywood star Will Ferrell, one of his favourite actors and Creative Artists' stablemate, eased him into the day on Arthur Ashe, practice with Davis Cup team-mate Ross Hutchins followed next door on Louis Armstrong and he closed the day on court 5 with a sundown session of serving.

To the delight of the up-close-and-personal New Yorkers (in the grounds for the brilliant "kids' day"), he aimed at ball cans for an hour with fitness trainer Matt Little doing his best to get a racket on the returns.

Andy Murray

It's a tough draw for Murray and the big names in his section are remarkably similar to 12 months ago (Wawrinka, Del Potro, Nadal) with the dangerous Marin Cilic also lurking, a man for whom a major breakthrough is surely imminent.

But I see Murray getting another crack at Federer in a repeat of last year's final.

I asked him on 5 live recently what he learned from that experience, which may benefit him if they play again.

"I went away and worked loads on my game and tried to get better," he said. "That was the one thing I learned, that I needed to get a lot better to win a slam because I wasn't quite good enough in the final."

Even though he looks a better played than 12 months ago, he would need an incredible performance to dethrone Federer if they meet again. Roger is playing with a swagger once more and is hot favourite to win a third major of the year, a sixth in a row in New York, and an incredible 16th of his career.

Rafael Nadal is still on the comeback after two months out and even though he should beat Richard Gasquet in the most intriguing first round match, I can't see him reaching the final four, considering the strain this hard-court surface puts on the knees.

The women's championship is open for Serena Williams with the usual collection of challengers - some worthy, some not - and a couple of terrific stories could be ahead.

Let's see how former champion Maria Sharapova fares, at only her second Grand Slam of the season. With her shoulder problems hopefully behind her, Sharapova has collected plenty of court time in recent weeks including the final in Toronto. New York tends to bring the best out of her and I think it will again.

And Kim Clijsters - another former winner, playing her first major tournament since returning from retirement - could face Venus Williams in the fourth round and, even more interestingly, a match up with my outsider for the title Victoria Azarenka in the last eight.

What a shame Laura Robson couldn't find the final push to win her final qualifying match and give Britain some interest in the women's singles. She came so close and it was such a terrific effort from someone who, let's not forget, is only 15.

She led 4-0 in the final set of her final qualifying match on Saturday before an incredible bout of nerves, probably provoked by the enormity of the impending achievement, allowed her tall, hard-hitting opponent back into the match.

At one stage, in the vital 4-1 game which seemed to go on forever, Laura collected her towel from the fence infront of my seat and said out loud: "I can hardly breathe."

At that moment, we could see the tension, the pressure, the fear. She just needed an extra minute to compose herself, she looked like she just needed a hug.

But over the course of the match we could also see the talent, the determination and the desire. If she's almost qualifying at 15, imagine what she can be doing here when she's 19 or 20. As exciting as Murray at the same age? Yes, more so. Good luck to her.

* Follow Jonathan Overend and the rest of the 5 Live commentary team on Twitter @5livetennis for gossip and banter from around the courts (tennis court and food court) during the US Open.


  • Comment number 1.

    With all respect Jonathan, this blog doesn't actually answer the question of whether Andy Murray can win the US Open.

    Where in the blog have you comapred with what Murray was like last year comapred to this year. What has he improved over the last year to get to world number 2. Why does he have a winning record against Federer? These are the questions your blog should be answering, not Murray's travel and coffee habits.

  • Comment number 2.

    lets hope Murray does not win, he is impossible to watch and is anti-tennis, using ultra-defensive play to bore the opposition into mistakes.

  • Comment number 3.

    "Enormity" doesn't mean what you think it does.

  • Comment number 4.

    Enormity, some people insist, is improperly used to denote large size. They insist on enormousness for this meaning, and would limit enormity to the meaning “great wickedness.” Those who urge such a limitation may not recognize the subtlety with which enormity is actually used. It regularly denotes a considerable departure from the expected or normal. I thought this was a great blog so I thought this comment was fairly irrelevant anyway. Thanks Jonathan! I was wondering whom your tipping to knock out Rafa before the semis? It would be nice to see a Nadal-Murray clash but I fear you might be right that it could come to early in his comeback.

  • Comment number 5.

    I have to say I agree with Maximus re Murray's snooze fest style of tennis and hope he doesn't make it all the way again. I can however see him making it to the quaters and then being dumped out by a certian Mr Del Potro. I doubt Delpo will then have enough left to beat Rafa in the semi's and so am predicting another Federer vs Nadal classic in the final. Djoko would be the biggest potential threat to Fed but I think he too may fall at the quarter final stage to Roddick.

    Federer - Nadal is the final I would like to see given the epic battles they have fought in the recent past and for me that would be a fitting end to the grand slam season and still the most likely outcome, despite Nadal's lack of matches.

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm sorry if Andy Murray's style of play is not to your liking, but it seems to be working pretty well for him. I wish him every success for the US Open.

    I don't think Nadal will get to the final.

  • Comment number 7.

    lol at the arrogance of some people. I watched many of the rallies between Federer and Murray at the Masters Cup which were terrific (even with Federer's back in spasm!), i think they could serve up a classic of their own to match any Federer-Nadal match

  • Comment number 8.

    Good luck murray and i hope he beats nadal

  • Comment number 9.

    Agree with some of the other posts: this blog story doesn't do what it says on the tin.

    I'm confident of a Fed v Murray final and hope that Fed will prevail again. But counting Nadal out before the semis is like counting the Australian cricket team out. Give me a break!

    I can't understand why so much of this story relates to what a normal person Murray is...if he takes the tube and the airport shuttle bus now, it won't be long before he gives that up. So what anyway? Many people have difficulty identifying with him and the fact that he takes the tube won't change that. Oh, and I've never known people to have to wait around for a chauffeur-driven car, unlike the shuttle bus!

  • Comment number 10.

    Whilst I am a big Murray fan (using my Facebook status to show my support!), I think the most recent Murray-Federer Cincinnati Masters match highlighted everything that's still a problem with Murray's game - firstly, it's his serve(s); if his first serve percentage isn't in the 60s or higher, he struggles because his second serve is very attackable.
    Secondly is that, when rushed, his passes are often not quite there; where Nadal can pull off passing shots from the most obsurd positions and angles, when Federer came in to the net after a 'decent' approach shot, Murray couldn't do anything with it.
    Thirdly, it's the area of his game that's had the most critique, his lack of offensive play. Yes, he has had great success in wearing players down to the point of them making the mistakes, and whilst I massively admire that, it's not going to make winning a Slam easy, especially when you see only glimpses of aggressive play, like against Fererro in the last few matches they've played. Against the aggressors in the game right now, any mid-court ball is returned with interest and in one shot, Murray loses the advantage he's worked hard to carve out.
    Del Potro and Verdasco are players whose style really can trouble Murray when he stays defensive, and of course Nadal can't be discounted either!

    I hope Murray's learned from his experiences against Federer, both at last year's US Open final and the most recent loss to Federer at the Cincinnati Masters. If so, it will be an excellent Murray-Federer final, and I think Murray could win it this year!

  • Comment number 11.

    I had to create an account to get involved in this subject haha! I agree, murray does not play attractive tennis at all, he does not have that spark that make the likes of Nadal and Federer the players they are. He does on the otherhand have consistency which is hugely difficult since tennis, undoubtably, is a game of errors and that is why he has achieved such success in the past year or so. However it is this lack of spark which i believe will stop him from achieving the top heights (the number 1 spot). A grand slam however is certainly not out of his reaches.

  • Comment number 12.

  • Comment number 13.

    I actually find it hilarious that anyone could find the guy with the the best return in the game boring

    This is a person who break ANY player in the world, almost when he feels like it and that's boring

    And people like Del Potro who's got so much variety that he can hit the ball hard and to the extreme can hit the ball hard!!!

    Del Potro, who has a 3-0 losing record on hard courts is some kind of threat

    Does anybdoy watch Murray, with any kind of objective viewpoint or decide they're going to trot out the tired old "he's passive" rubbish -something all players are when they lose as Del Potro did when he schooled him in that final set at Montreal

  • Comment number 14.

    I sincerly wish Murray all the best in this tournament. I must say if Nadal has more knee trouble and for any reason must drop out, the magic will have certainly gone for me. He has been an absolute joy to watch and a pleasure to listen to. Good luck Rafael.

  • Comment number 15.

    Murray's game is fairly widely disliked - but mainly by his opponents, notably Roger Federer who cannot work out how to play him and always has to hope he (Roger) is having an on-day while Andy is having an off-day.

    I've seen many Murray games and for the spectator at least, boring they most certainly are not.

    As for "enormity", there is an easy rule of thumb: if the word is (mis)used by the majority of people and for a reasonable period of time, then it becomes right. Any other attitude is both elitist and naive.

  • Comment number 16.

    Have to agree with the doubters of Murray's game. I desperately want him to win, he strikes me as a good guy (and he's British) but needs to get more aggressive against the better players - Eventually you come up against somebody like a Tsonga or a Del Potro who is just having a good day and defence is not enough, eventually they'll blast you off the court. I know the majority of the time they'll give it away with error rate, but it's asking a lot to get through to the final of a slam outlasting your opponents. And yes that second serve's still not good enough. Still COME ON! Oh and enormity boy - who cares?

  • Comment number 17.

    Well said bambrotam (comment 13).

    I do think Murray will win a slam, but I'm still not confident he can do it in the next two weeks. He can become too casual, and his forehand is often too short, allowing the opponent to move into the court and attack him. His second serve is not good enough IMO, thats what Roddick attacked in the Wimbledon SF and that's what won him the match.

    I think Murray will go one better than Wimbledon, but will lose to Federer again in the final.

  • Comment number 18.

    If Murray wins it this year, he'll deserve it because his draw is arguably the toughest of all the major contenders.

    From round III on, he's got banana skins the whole way. Karlovic can beat anyone if his serve is unreturnable on a given day, Wawrinka gave Murray one hell of a shock at Wimbledon and del Potro may well be Murray's main rival over the next 3 - 4 years. That's before he gets to Nadal and/or Federer.

    But I reckon he's ready now. His game is good enough, he's mentally tough enough, now his final test is: can he put it all together for 4 days when it matters?

    We're about to find out.

  • Comment number 19.

    I have not always been a fan of Murray, but his change in attitude, both on and off the field, has warmed me to him.
    I hope Murray can win it, but I fear last year's US open was a missed opportunity, what with Federer having his worst period after the Nadal defeats. Now Federer is back to his carefree ways and Nadal's the only man I can see stopping the Fedmachine marching to a record 6th successive US titles.
    Good luck Murray.

  • Comment number 20.

    I've been very critical of some of Mr Overend's blog's in the past, but on this occasion he draws sensible conclusions that are hard to disagree with - Federer is favourite, Murray is likely to make the final but it will take something special to beat Federer, and this tournament comes too soon for Nadal after his injury problems.

    Fair enough.

  • Comment number 21.

    I have to take issue with this Murray chap. Let's go back to his bash England strategy. The BBC reporting of that incident was quite wrong. Initially, they followed the lead of the other English papers in saying it was outrageous for the blighter to, "support any team other than England". That was outrageous. However, the BBC and the papers missed the point. Tim and the DJ were poking fun at the Scots and that blighter Murray had the cheek to answer back. He doesn't seem to understand that Scots are there to be lampooned.

    I don't watch tennis apart from Wimbledon and I know little about it but I agree with several chaps on this blog that Murray is very negative and not at all attractive to watch. Let's hope he doesn't win this week and never wins a major, the last thing we need is a working class chap from the regions with ideas above his station. As for his hard training regime, if we'd brought back National Service he'd have known the nature of a real workout.

    Now you can tell that Roger Federer is a class act from the moment the gold lame sparkles in the sun. Moves a little like a ballet dancer for my taste but he still has time to work on his gait. Let's hope for more Roger ing in this tourney.

  • Comment number 22.

    I may be wrong, but I certainly do not think Andy Murray is ready for a grand slam, many bloggers have confirmed his short comings. Nadal isn't a real threat to Roger yet, Andy Roddick has a taste of almost winning another grand slam, Del Potro is another threat. I really wish Novak will up his game and play as he played at the Aus Open in 2008. So looks like another grand slam for Roger - and I'm not complaining! He deserves every win.

  • Comment number 23.

    The complaints about Murray's aesthetics are reasonable - he's in the entertainment business, and if nobody watches, it doesn't matter if he ever gets to number one. But they are also wrong, at least for anyone that plays tennis at a reasonable level. It's fascinating to watch Murray's variety of shot, his keen analysis of an opponent's weaknesses and his ability to magnify those weaknesses, his incredible defensive skills, and his ability to mitigate his own glaring weakness (his second serve). Nadal had many similar complaints made against him before he won his non-clay grand slams and cemented his status as a great. I expect that after Murray wins about 4 or 5 of the next 10 slams, nobody will be whining that he's boring to watch.

  • Comment number 24.


    I think you're absolutely right. Just because he's beaten all the top players, won four tournaments with all the top players competing, has the best U.S. hardcourt win/loss ratio of any player this year and got to the final of this tourney last year, does not mean he is even close to being ready to win a grand slam. You don't win battles without aggression and this boy needs more aggression.

  • Comment number 25.

    ' I expect that after Murray wins about 4 or 5 of the next 10 slams, nobody will be whining..'

    you are kidding me, right?

  • Comment number 26.

    Great blog Jonathan!
    I love the fact you touch on the fact he buys his own coffee, flies economy and takes the shuttle! The english press is so over-obsessed with Murray (naturally considering he's the only decent player in Britain) that it has become boring reading about him in the English press as the same comments are repeated over and over.

    I agree with your bold prediction of Nadal falling at the quater-final hurdle! His knees just take too much pounding and his weak past record in New York backs that up.
    If Fed can maintain his current swagger throughout the tournament than I predict its his for the taking. Im still hoping for a rematch of last year Murray vs. Fed though!


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