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Murray proves his mettle

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Jonathan Overend | 23:00 UK time, Friday, 28 January 2011

Defeating David Ferrer in four tough sets was undoubtedly one of Andy Murray's best Grand Slam victories.

Far from perfect, indeed at times he looked severely out of touch, but a pressure-point performance to beat an inspired top-10 opponent and show his major mettle.

He was on the edge of despair when set point down in the second and, much later - in the game after being stunned by two unbelievable Ferrer volleys - he was two points away from losing the fourth and going all the way against one of the toughest guys on tour.

To save set point with an ace - albeit having forgotten the score - and then to play two magnificent tie-breaks shows he is made for occasions like this.

These were big moments with Ferrer at his resilient, soul destroying best. But I always felt Murray had the greater capacity for improvement - the old cliche of moving through the gears.

Ferrer was flat out from game one, Murray made a slow start but by the end was in full flow having changed tactics impressively.

It had a similar feel to last year's semi-final when, having lost the first set to Marin Cilic, Murray had to look at his own game and adapt.This is what we love about tennis; not just the power and the skill, but one man's ability to think for himself and work his way out of a hole under extreme pressure.

Murray did that by shortening the points (how many more 40-point rallies could you take, watching at home?) and stepping into the court and up to the net.

Plan B - appropriately enough because the singer is in town at the moment - is a very effective option for Murray. It saved him a year ago, it saved him here. A quite brilliant victory.

So now the in-form Novak Djokovic in the final and the head says that the number three seed from Serbia should start a reasonable favourite. His dismantling of Roger Federer in the semis was brutal and systematic.

If he plays as well as that again Murray could be in a lot of trouble. But, as always, it's impossible to judge Murray's ability to win one match based on his last. He changes moods, changes styles, depending on the opponent.

He will bring a specific tactic to the court against Djokovic and will have to do everything really well. The serve will be vital as Djokovic has been rallying so deep and so consistently.

The head-to-head means little - given the scale of the occasion and the fact their last meeting was almost two years ago - but I'm encouraged by the fact Murray's last two wins were in big matches (Masters Series finals in Miami and Cincinnati).

If he raises his game for the final push then the moment, the magical moment we dream about but almost dare not mention at this late stage, could be much closer than we think.

Good luck Andy, make that moment yours


  • Comment number 1.

    Let us not get carried away thinking a Murra-Djoko final represents a mjor shift in men's tennis. Australia has been the graveyard of premature conclusions in recent years.

    However, Sunday should give a big indication as to which one of these two pretenders to the crown may push on to win multiple slams in the coming years.

  • Comment number 2.

    I really think this is it, this is the one. 75 years of hurt will end on Sunday. It has to.

    Come on Andy!

    P.S. Jonathan - great work with all of your coverage.

  • Comment number 3.

    he played well for the final 2 sets that i saw and if he can hit the highs he has played for all the AO then he can certainly become our first grand slam champion since fred perry. 1 may also bring a few more once that mill stone that has round his neck has been lifted. COME ON MURRAY BRING IT HOME !

  • Comment number 4.

    Kieran J., has anyone actually said that, or is it just an excuse to advertise your Blog?

    No one would argue that Murray would have beaten a fit Nadal and Federer in the semis and final, but you can only beat who you have in front of you. No one complained when Virgina Wade won Wimbledon that she "only" beat Betty Stove: she won, end of story. Federer and Nadal are way ahead of anyone else, but no one knows how long Nadal's body will last and no one knows how long Federer can keep his desire. In theory Nadal could be #1 for 6 or 7 more years, but one wonders if his body will last more than 2 or 3 more.

  • Comment number 5.

    Looks like Andy has a great chance, he has managed to beat Nadal and Federer on hard courts, but not in a Grand Slam.

    This will be his first chance to win a slam, with out playing Nadal or Federer, who are both able to raise their games for slam finals almost as a matter of routine.

    Almost better that Djokovic is slight favourite and it is in Australia so much less pressure.

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm a proud englishman and will be backing Murray all the way, he's scottish but he's british and he is doing britain proud.

    He has undouhtable more talent than Henman ever had yet not the likeability, that lack of connection with the british public will incrrease dramatically if he can become a grand slam winner!

    Tennis is a great game, 2nd only to football.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    Write nadal off at ur peril as he rightly proved last year. He came back from injure before.
    He certainly faces a different adversary in Murray this time as I feel Murray has enough of a plan b - to steal a quote form above - to adapt mid game if his normal baseline tactics aren't working. There were glimpses of this in the first and second set (as his net stats will back up) but I felt he was scared when he got passed although not often from a player not reknowned for his passing ability. This is the kind of situation he tends to get into when playing Federer and once the confidence or lack of is seized upon by greats such as this it is too late for plan b.

  • Comment number 9.

    great win ! come on Andy !!!!

  • Comment number 10.

    Stargazer, I would argue that - Murray to beat a fit Nadal & Federer. He's been there!
    Do you actually watch tennis or gaze at your own navel?
    I have the feeling you read about it & are simply another Fedal fanboy.
    Murray destroyed a "fit" Nadal at last year's AO until the latter developed, as he did again a few days ago,
    an explanation for defeat. He's expert at that. Ask Uncle Toni!
    Fed easily defeated Murray in 2 GS finals. So? Ask Agassi, ask Lendl - they lost a few before ... what?
    Do you actually know?
    Nadal will be around in 6/7 years as a TV expert - nothing else. Fed will be gone - at latest - after next year's Olympics.

    Kieran J, No, we will not be carried away but I wish you were! History does not repeat itself unless we are all as sad & mediocre as yourself. Please try to avoid the trite & commonplace.
    No apologies if that's the place you inhabit.

  • Comment number 11.

    Stargazer if Federer is sooo much better than the rest how come Djokovic took him apart.

  • Comment number 12.

    @ No.11 - Because Federer has 16 GS Titles and Djokovic has 1.

  • Comment number 13.

    12. At 02:18am on 29 Jan 2011, James wrote:
    @ No.11 - Because Federer has 16 GS Titles and Djokovic has 1.


    Didn't count for anything the other day, and that's all that matters. Borg won all those Wimbledons in the 70s, but it ain't going to help him on the court in 2011.

  • Comment number 14.

    Murray still has problems in the head. Every match he has shown that cockiness - a.k.a. the lack of killer instinct - that allows his opponents a chance where none existed.

    1. The early rounds he kept his opponents to about 5 total games each - but in each case one game was a break of serve that came right after a period of total dominance by Murray.

    2. Against Dolgopolov he had him cold for 3-0 sets and again the cockiness came in and he lost the third.

    3. He wasn't great at the start against Ferrer but when he was in the ascendancy he once again started the arrogance - the showboating with the overhead from about a yard from the net which he duly netted when Ferrer was left for dead in the tramlines was just awful.

    All of these are arguments against Murray winning a Slam as he is now, but here he is in another final. It has to be said that the draw has opened up for him on both sides - he hasn't played anyone yet that he shouldn't be firm favourite to beat (which is very nice if you're No 5 seed) and also the other side has opened up for him as well with fed going out.

    Ironically this may be just what he needs to sort himself out - a whole bunch of luck conspiring to hand him a winnable major final. Let's hope he doesn't blow it and play like an idiot as he has in his other finals.

    Once he gets one he just might relax and turn into a very good player indded.

    If he loses, he needs to get a coach that can sort out his psychological problems.

  • Comment number 15.

    man how im i going to sleep tonight,i am so nervous for him i experiances the same last year and he woke up in the 3rd set

    if muz doesnt go walkabouts,too much he will have a chance because nole serve has improved alot but it is not unbreakable,he throws in more double faults than murray when he is nervous

    whoever wins that opening set will win ,if muz gets it we are in for nervous times if jokoer wins it we should switch off


  • Comment number 16.

    Aggressive or defensive against ND to win his first slam ?

    A bit of both I think. Nole can get easily frustrated so Andy will really have to mix it up. Serve will be key especially second serve %.

    Come on Andy.

  • Comment number 17.

    I know it's a bit OT but just watched the match again and I have to say that the all the officials had a brilliant match. It often goes overlooked but they were superb and got most calls right.

  • Comment number 18.

    #11, let's invert that. If he isn't, why have so many GS finals over the last few years featured him? His win-loss record is amazing and he has so few bad days that to lose in the Quarters was a massive shock. No one wins 100% and he met an inspired player on an inspired day. Does anyone have a winning record against him? Murray *used* to, but does not any longer.

    Murray *has* beaten a fit Nadal and he *has* beaten a fit Federer, but it's a big stretch to say that he'd beat both in the same tournament. If he could, he would have won more Grand Slam and Masters events, wouldn't he?

  • Comment number 19.

    It's not fair to cite 'the draw opened up for him' as a reason for Murray getting to the final or even winning the tournament. Djokovic beat Federer comfortably in the semi and therefore is a better player at this moment. Ferrer beat Nadal comfortably. Nadal is still the best player in the world but Federer's best days are now behind him.

    The man who wins the tournament is the player is remains unbeaten by anybody after the last match. Everybody else has been beaten.

    Murray is there on merit - just like the rest of them - and you can't take that away from him. Tennis at Grand Slam level is an extremely tough and competitive sport. It's hard mentally and physically. We all have to take our hats off to Murray and should be getting behind him, instead of finding reasons why he hill not win.

  • Comment number 20.

    Stargazer: you talk as if Federer still is and always will be the best. You may not have noticed but he has not won any of the last four grand slams. At Wimbledon he was dumped out in the quarter finals. He has been a great player and can still play brilliantly in patches, but you and some of the others here need to realise that at almost 30, his decline has started. So to say, as some do, that Federer and Nadal are still 'miles ahead of the rest' is just not true. Murray could certainly have beaten a fit Nadal this week if he had been given the chance, but whatever, he and Djokovic (and possibly Del Potro if he can stay fit and get his confidence back) will now increasingly join Nadal at the top and Federer will start to slide down the rankings. Gazing at your favourite star continually shouldn't blind you to reality.

    Oh, and good luck Andy!

  • Comment number 21.

    Find myself rooting for Murray very strongly. He's an excellent player - world class on hard court - and deserves to break his Slam duck. If he does I'd expect him to go on and win a few more. Having said this, Djokovic looks in top form and I have a feeling he'll do it. (Just watching a really good Women's final, by the way).

  • Comment number 22.

    Boy there are some clowns who post. Federer and Nadal are comfortably the 2 best players in the world. Murray would have been less likely to win the AO if he had to beat both of them to win the tournament. This is borne out by how many times has anyone beaten both players in a Grand Slam ?
    However should Murray win tomorrow then this will not detract from his victory. When they engrave the name on the trophy there is no asterisk to denote *didn't beat Fed or Nadal.
    As for "he just might relax and turn into a very good player indded (sic)." He reached #3 in the world behind 2 of the greatest players ever to pick up a racket. How good do you have to be to be a "very good player"? How many other sportsman has GB produced that have been #3 in the world in a mass worldwide participation sport in the last 20 years? It's a pretty short list I tell you.

  • Comment number 23.

    Federer is the GOAT, no question, although Nadal may one day take that mantle, but as of now - with physical problems and age in play - it's not Big 2 way ahead of the rest. It has been for a while, but this is probably over now. I do, however, see more Slams for both Roger and (especially) Rafa: predict career totals of 18 vs 13.

  • Comment number 24.

    Murray *has* beaten a fit Nadal and he *has* beaten a fit Federer, but it's a big stretch to say that he'd beat both in the same tournament. If he could, he would have won more Grand Slam and Masters events, wouldn't he?


  • Comment number 25.

    I haven't really been watching, but has Murray improved his serve. It's always let him down at important moments, and you're unlikely to win tie breaks in grand slams unless you have a consistant serve...and there he is winning two by large margins against Ferrer. Is his serve better?

  • Comment number 26.

    Djoko is clearly in great form and deserves to be slight favourite.
    The bookies rate his chance of winning at 55% which seems about right.

    Andy's form last year was great going in to this tournament, the bookies made him favourite to win it (ridiculous) and the press expectation was too high. Roger played one of his best matches ever in the final and that was that. This time the expectation from Andy has been lower and that is probably putting less pressure on him.

    The odds are about right. He has a real chance to win and if he does, it will probably lead to a few more GS wins.

    Good luck Andy. Scottish and British (like me)

  • Comment number 27.

    What got me, was that Jamie Murray admitted that he celebrated after Germany stuffed England 4-1 in the World Cup. This anti- English sentiment must run in the family. I reckon I will be supporting Djoko, Come on my son!

  • Comment number 28.

    @stargazer - for someone who doesn't know squad about modern tennis, you sure talk much. As somene pointed out, Murray HAS beaten Nadal and Federer in the same tournament. Murray STILL has a winning record against Federer.

  • Comment number 29.

    "Good luck Andy. Scottish and British (like me)"

    Exactly how I feel. The kids world class win or lose, Djoko's been playing great tennis, in Andy's own words - "it's gonna be brutal".

  • Comment number 30.

    Here we go again. Just sick of all these 'Murray winning a grand slam' stuff. Personally, I do not believe he has the game to win a grand slam. Pushers hardly win singles grand slam tournaments.

  • Comment number 31.

    Given that Murray is in his third grand slam final, and playing against a player he's beaten before in hard court finals, surely it's ludicrous to suggest that he 'doesn't have the game to win a grand slam'?

    Clearly, he does. But so does Djokovic, which is why the result tomorrow could go either way.

  • Comment number 32.

    What hard court finals are you talking about? Grand slams or best of 3 sets? Murray has no weapon with which he can hurt a more established player in a best of 5 sets. He always has to rely on the opponent making unforced errors. I do not see him winning the final tomorrow neither do I see him winning any grand slam in future unless of course the top guns are not in later rounds.

  • Comment number 33.

    You don't watch much tennis, stratevans, if you think Murray has 'no weapon' with which he can hurt a 'more established player' (what does that mean?!). How about his serve, which is now one of the best or his backhand, especially down the line, or his amazing defence which can destroy an opponent's confidence in his serve? His forehand is also a great weapon when it's firing well. As for the old myth that 'he just waits for his opponent's mistakes' that's both out of date and wrong. He certainly induces mistakes, by forcing his opponent to play shots they don't want to. And nowadays he switches more often to attack at the right time.

    Some people live in the past, when Federer was unbeatable. That era is now over.

  • Comment number 34.

    @18 Stargazer please shh now. Murray still has a winning record against Federer although not in grand slams.

    Seeing as you asked "Does anyone have a winning record against him?" I feel it is also appropriate to answer that question...erm, yes. Nadal has a clear lead in the head to head meetings and also has a 6-2 record in grand slam matches between the two.

    Federer is the greatest of all time, but he's not the best player at the moment. No grand slam final in the last 4 is a clear indicator of this.

    @22 Nice post and sorry to be pedantic but Murray has actually been as high as number 2 in the rankings - Although only for about 3 weeks in 2009 when Nadal couldn't defend all his points due to injury!

  • Comment number 35.

    Andy Murray has consistently been in the worlds top 4 over the last few years, in an era containing probably the two best players of all time. Its not an accident that he is in that position, so anyone criticising his game really needs to think again.

    He doesnt win more major tournaments simply because Nadal and Federer are better. There is no shame in that, because as I mentioned they are the best ever. Djokovic is probably the best possible opponent for him, since theres no added pressure of being the match favourite, which he would have been against anyone other than the top 3 in the world. Also, though its not happened in this tournament, Djokovic does have a tendency to have some almighty off days, so fingers crossed he has one on sunday morning.

  • Comment number 36.

    Murray has been in the top 5, mostly the top 4, for two and a half years now. That's an incredible record, and it's depressing to see that some British tennis 'fans' can't bring themselves to acknowledge what a great achievement that is, plus all the important titles he has already one. Six Masters titles, for goodness sake! Soderling has only just recently won his first, and Tim Henman only got one in his whole career. And still there are people who think Murray only beats other players by "waiting for their mistakes". Unbelievable.

  • Comment number 37.

    its not a change in mens game the next three slams are rafas, but his to lose, and djokovic and murrays and rogers will look to win one the next one is french which is nadals, his the only player to have a grandslam guranteed to win if he is well althugh robin could upset him and berdych, and than wimbledon rafas to to lose roger is outof it, muraay has a decent chance and than the us open hmm, murray and djokovic are just behind nadal and ferder is behind them with robin and berdych so hopefully if nadal can stay fit he will three slams this year his tally will be 12 can overtake federer, the final tomorow,

    i want to say murray will win and i want him to, but i know djokovic will win why djokovic knows when to play offensive and defensive and murray is a counter pouncher and djokovic beat federer twice in a row in grand slams and u lost to federer twice in grand slam and murray is counter-pouncher and against djokovic who has one of the best defensvie gmaes murrays needs to play aggressive " he whoever makes the first hs the has the most to lose or vice versa" so murrays needs to be aggressive than he chance a better chane than djokovic murras backhand is better than djokovic and forehand djokovic is better and running hiting both are good djoko sligtly ahead

  • Comment number 38.

    stratevans, are you saying that when Murray beat Djokovic in straight sets (6-2 7-5) at the Miami Masters in 2009 (generally acknowledged as the biggest 'non-grand-slam' tournament on the tour), you don't believe he could have won a third set had one been played?

    If he can beat an 'established player' in straight sets in a best of three, what is this mystical force that makes it impossible for him to win one further set in a best of five? Surely it's not that hard to imagine?

    CUJMee already listed the many weapons Murray has at his disposal, which he has used to great effect in matches against the top players before.

  • Comment number 39.

    Murray might win tomorrow. He might not. It's finely balanced - but let's just hope it's a great match. There will be plenty more from him and Djokovic after this one. We're so lucky to be watching men's tennis at a time when the level has never been higher with so many brilliant players. And we're incredibly lucky in Britain that at last we have one of the world's best players in this most demanding of individual sports.

  • Comment number 40.

    What a load of rubbish you all write! Tennis in this country has been run so badly for so long it's amazing that any one from here has reached the heights that Andy has reached. You should be ashamed of criticising any athlete who manages to make it to the final of a slam - it should be a cause for celebration both nationally and internationally. I doubt any of you 'tennis fans' really know what it's like to play any sport at this level - the training, expense, lack of personal life etc. If I was you i'd stop typing spurious, jingoistic nonsense on your computers and go for a run instead. It might clear your heads.

  • Comment number 41.

    Sure I do not watch tennis. As a matter of fact I know nothing about it. Please give me a break love. Surely Andy would win tournaments be it the Masters 1000 World tour 500 or whatever but when push comes to shove and it comes down to the majors, at best he would win one grand slam in all his career.

    Do not get me wrong here, winning a grand slam is a great achievement as it shows that one is in the top echelon of world tennis. However, counter-punchers/pushers are not known to win the grand slams consistently.

    When last has a counter-puncher/pusher won a grand slam?

  • Comment number 42.

    I hope Andy does win , he would do well to study his match replays with Ferrer, he made mistakes at crucial times and failed to put him away on relatively easy shots and his final may boil down to unforced errors esp double faulting on serve etc.Andy's court mobility could be improved to equal his good hands , easy to say all this watching him on TV of course but hope his stamina holds no cramping etc and his head is ok.

  • Comment number 43.

    Murray has been working on his serve during the brief off-season and is clearly benefiting from his endeavour, keeping his first serve above 60 per cent throughout the match to restrict García-López to few opportunities.
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 44.

    c'mon Murray - Im already anxious and excited about tomorrows match too! Im not a brit, but have lived here for nearly a decade, and I am constantly suprised by how little support he recieves from the public - generally based on that comment made when he was a teenager, and that he looks surly. I think is a shame that so much is based on his lack of media 'likeability'. He is an exceptional player and he will go on to win a slam - lets hope tomorrow.

    I admire his desire to win and how hard he was worked to get there - unlike a lot of other spoilt LTA *stars*.

  • Comment number 45.

    "5. At 00:33am on 29 Jan 2011, WorldCupMadness wrote:
    Looks like Andy has a great chance, he has managed to beat Nadal and Federer on hard courts, but not in a Grand Slam."

    Murray has beaten Nadal twice in grand slams.

  • Comment number 46.

    Anyone in the top 10 is good enough to beat anyone else in the top 10 - it just rarely happens (and especially in Grand Slams) because the top players are so consistent.

    So, as for tomorrow, if either player has an off day, the other will win. If neither or both do, I'd say Djokovic's power will see him through (especially if Murray's serving is poor).

  • Comment number 47.

    Of course Murray has a good chance but I was very impressed by Djokovic against Federer, he seemed mentally stronger than I have seen him before.

    Way too early to write off Federer, he had been in a rich vein of form leading into the AO and just lost to the better player on the day.

  • Comment number 48.

    They're so evenly matched statistically it's amazing, there's barely anything between them - will surely come down to who holds their nerve on the important points, as they both did in their Semis

  • Comment number 49.

    All those who say Murray plays only by waiting for his opponent's mistakes - against lesser opponents that's exactly all he needs to do. Against the stronger opponents he has a first-class attack game of his own when he's on form, and will hit anyone off a court.

  • Comment number 50.

    If you support Man U you cheer when Liverpool get cuffed. It's called football rivalry, get over it. I supported England during the recent ashes tour, but football is a different story altogether. Very few Scots that I know support the England football team during major competitions. Nothing nasty about that, just healthy rivalry.
    One of the things I like about Murray is that he's not overly concerned about what people think of him. He's there to play tennis, not to be the most popular guy there.
    Come on Andy!

  • Comment number 51.

    All the top players in this years Australian Open have shown fantastic skill, athletic ability, endurance and determination. I have enjoyed watching them in action tremendously and anyone who is pointlessly critical really should confront their own (no doubt many) inadequcies first.

  • Comment number 52.

    Up the Muzza!

  • Comment number 53.

    I'm rooting for Djokovic over the charismatic and seemingly charming Scot, but either way looking forward to (hopefully) a great match.

    Please do not accuse me of national bias, I would never play the "Anyone but England" card to Scots.

    Come on Djokovic!! Prove once and for all what Murray is, occasionally the bridesmaid, never will be the bride!!

  • Comment number 54.

    I think Murray needs this Slam- or else the drought will play on his mind. I would want him to win because he is phenomenally talented. If he wins, we might see him on fire for the majority of his career

  • Comment number 55.

    you never know, he might even... win a set this time round unlike his last 2 grand slam finals!
    come on Djokovic!

  • Comment number 56.

    Incidentally, I find it somewhat surprising that these two havent played each other in a tournament for 2 years. Considering the level of them both thats quite incredible. It also makes any sort of head to head analysis pretty redundant

  • Comment number 57.

    I hope the Queen is on standby to meet and publicly knight Murray upon his return.

  • Comment number 58.

    I hope that people don't think this is going to be murray's easiest grand slam final because Nole is in superb form and to despatch Roger as easily as he did shows that Andy is goin to have to be at his very best.

    May the best man win... i just hope Murray leaves nothing on the court as he has done in past major finals!

  • Comment number 59.

    well the same old arguments trotted out about Murray. The fact is he is capable of winning this match and unless you have a very accurate crystal ball you can't say he won't win

    come on Andy get the monkey off your back by playing genius tennis

  • Comment number 60.


    Not looking llikely at the moment. Murray has gone walkabout again.

    Murray's only hope is that Djokovic takes his foot off the pedal.

  • Comment number 61.

    I told y'all. He would never win a grand slam against people like Nadal, DDjoker or Fedexpress. His best chance, which will surely come, will be playing against a player who would stun any of the aforementioned in earlier rounds.

  • Comment number 62.

    Unfortunately however good Murray's tennis is, it is unattractive to watch his adolescent stropping round the court - he must learn to overcome this before he will get the acclaim his game deserves.

    Well deserved win for Djokovic, Murray can take encouragement from the fact that a couple of years ago Djokovic exhibited the same erratic behaviour on court that Murray did today. Djokovic has brought his temperament under control and the results are evident, hopefully Murray can mature into a more self controlled player and realise his full potential.

  • Comment number 63.

    Murray beats his body up too much to win a major, 2 weeks, 7 matches, best of 5 sets, then the media pressure. He needs to Change his style. The sands of time are running out for the veteran

  • Comment number 64.

    Andy Murray is 23. I would suggest the sands of time are not really a factor in his immediate future.

    Not that its directly linked to this blog, but the BBC report of the final states that "Murray has now lost all eight sets he has played in grand slam finals". Its no wonder he keeps losing when he doesnt even play as many sets as his opponents, who have managed nine in that time.


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