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Category Archives: Andy Murray

Elena Vesnina says she was congratulated by Andy Murray

During interviews yesterday ahead of Russia’s Fed Cup meeting with Japan, Elena Vesnina revealed that in Melbourne, Andy Murray approached her to congratulate her on finally capturing her maiden title the week earlier in Hobart.

I have had so many congratulations! For example, Andy Murray came up and congratulated me (in Melbourne). He said that “at last I won a title.” It was very nice. I remember up until the match against Victoria Azarenka many congratulated me on the victory in Hobart. It was very cool and partly helped me to perform well on the Australian Open [...] but I said: “Guys, all thanks, I am very happy, but now it is the Australian Open and should be prepared for the next match.”

In the past, Murray’s quotes on WTA players and the tour in general have suggested that he is actually pretty knowledgeable on the women’s side, but the thought of him keeping tabs on Vesnina’s epic search for her first tile is quite hilarious. Also, whilst so many players continue to complain about equal prize money and the like, it’s simply nice to see that there are but a few good eggs who allow their female counterparts the respect they deserve.

How different are the WTA and ATP rankings?

I’ll never fully comprehend why so many feel the need to waste endless amounts of time waxing lyrical about a ranking list that, in the greater scheme of things, is about as relevant to the WTA as Maria Sharapova’s moustache is to her endorsements. In a world where people don’t suck, Victoria Azarenka’s catwalk to the number one spot with Australian Open title in-hand and a subsequent 26-match winning streak would have struck the final nail in the coffin of this wretched number one “debate.” Yet, as the season comes to an end, Serena Williams’ superiority over Sharapova and Azarenka not reflecting in the rankings is all people can talk about.

But, alas, for the time being, let’s pretend that we live in a world where rankings do mean a great deal (they don’t) and that spending the last four years obnoxiously questioning the “legitimacy” of the rankings at every opportunity has been time well spent for all involved (it really hasn’t.) Over this period of time, I’ve always been struck at how readily the word “flawed” has been constantly tossed about in the relation to a ranking system that does exactly what it says on the tin, while being constrasted with the ATP’s system which - as with seeming everything involving the ATP tour - is presented as a shining beacon of flawless perfection. But, really, how different are they?

WTA under ATP Rankings:

. ATP Points Grand Slam Masters 1000 Best of Rest Tourns Counted
Azarenka 9905 4100 4415 1390 17 of 17 (1)
Williams 9250 4190 3220 1840 13 of 13 (2)
Sharapova 9220 4100 4160 960 14 of 14 (3)
Radwanska 6676 1830 3440 1406 19 of 22 (0)

ATP under WTA Rankings

. WTA Points Grand Slam PM+Best 2 P5s Best of Rest Tourns Counted
Djokovic 12090 5700 4220 2170 15 of 16 (1)
Federer 9585 4300 3875 1410 13 of 17 (3)
Murray 8290 4800 1755 1735 15 of 18 (1)
Nadal 6990 3500 2840 650 10 of 12 (6)

() = 0 pointers.

Not very.

Playing around with the two ranking systems is hardly a new concept, but despite the notable differences between the points structures of the ATP and WTA rankings, this factor is rarely taken into consideration. At first glance, both ATP and WTA point allocation systems are near-identical - with 2000 awarded at slam-level, 1000 at masters and so on. However, the big difference occurs amongst the players who leave tournaments without those big trophies, as the ATP offer considerably less points between the second round and finalist stages of events, in comparison to the WTA’s points system.

So, which system rewards greatness over consistency? Neither. A tick in the ATP’s favour is its point structure placing far greater emphasis on titles rather than a steady string of consistent results. It means that a player like Sharapova, who was the runner up in an immense 6 slams and Masters 1000 equivalents in 2012, is penalized most under the ATP system. However, the downside of this structure is the ease at which players can inflate their rankings by notching up titles at lower events against far lesser competition. On the other hand, the WTA only counts a total of 16 events compared to the ATP’s 18, lessening the influence of playing a significant amount of events.

Thus, the most effective objective ranking system would probably be one somewhere in the middle of the two. Even that would have its own glaring flaws, however, and on the whining goes.

Andy Murray Fights Back… In The Press Room

Sounds like Andy Murray wasn’t too impressed with Roger Federer’s recent attempt to play down his Asian run. And while Federer attempted to backtrack on his second day of media, Murray simply brought his own claws out and (for once in his life) went on the offensive.

“Winning three tournaments in a row is difficult - not many players have done that,” said Murray. “In Tokyo, I beat Rafa and David Ferrer, who is No 5 in the world. Who is there and who isn’t there is really irrelevant.

“You can only beat who is in front of you, but with the depth of men’s tennis you can’t expect to just turn up and win.’

“I always try, if I can, to be positive about all the other players,” Murray said, luxuriating on a Union Jack sofa. “Roger is one of the best players ever to play and I’m glad I’ve had the chance to play against him.” Did he think Federer feared him, then? Running around his backhand, Murray set himself for a forehand winner down the line.

And then the low blow:

“I don’t know if I am getting under Roger’s skin, but maybe I am [...] He’s entitled to say whatever he wants. I hope I get the chance to play against him this week and I can let the tennis do the talking.”

Maybe I’m just imagining it, but is that a touch of mind games I detect?! Sure, it’s hardly worthy of McEnroe and Connors or whatever, but it’s still something.

However, funny as his last comments were, I can’t help but feel that Murray is giving himself a little too much credit there. I mean, I’m sure Rafa’s triple slam-winning 2010 year most certainly ‘got under Roger’s skin’ while Novak’s incredible 2011 has likely had the Swiss sporadically tearing out large clumps of his hair all year. But Murray and his three tournament wins? Well..

But I digress, if they do end up facing each other this week then maybe this handbags will give both just that little bit more motivation to go for the victory. May the best man win.

Quotable Quotes: Roger Federer attempts to play down Andy Murray’s Asian Run

Not content on his rubbishing of Andy Murray’s strike talk a fortnight ago in Basel, according to the Daily Mail Roger Federer this week also had a lot to say about the Scot’s on-court form. Specifically his unbeaten run in Asia which saw him pick up three straight tournament wins and rise above Federer in the rankings for the first time in his career.

‘I’m not taking anything away from what Andy did, but was Asia the strongest this year?’ asked Federer. ‘I’m not sure. Novak (Djokovic) wasn’t there, I wasn’t there and (in Shanghai) Rafa lost early. But it has been a good effort by him after losing to Kevin Anderson in Montreal (in August). Don’t forget how things were looking then.’

Oh, Roger. Regardless of whether he’s right or wrong, I can’t help but love how he seems to be doing his best to drag his fellow rivals (except Rafa, of course) through the mud. The days of his quiet superiority are long-gone, and as so many have recently taken to criticizing the ‘big four’ for their friendships and lack of fierce off-court rivalry to match their on-court battles, Bitchy!Roger couldn’t have come at a better time.

The funniest part of the prose has to be the very first sentence, with ‘I’m not taking anything away from what Andy did, but…’ being the equivalent of a person saying ‘no offence’ before throwing a barrage of insults and criticism at the other. And behind the sincere smile and graceful flick of his hair which undoubtedly came as he uttered these comments, that’s essentially what he was doing.

But he does have a point. The fact is that both Djokovic and Federer pulled out with injuries while Nadal was nursing his own injuries in Asia. It won’t be the same this week nor is it the same in Grand Slams when everyone is present. However, as many have correctly pointed out, it was of course similar story during his own runs in Basel and Paris. It’s almost like Wozniacki laughing at Safin for her Rome and Madrid while simultaneously proudly holding up her Beijing and Copenhagen titles. But I guess the difference is that Murray’s run saw the usual hype and expectations come flying back as some British journalists made comparisons to Djokovic’s form in 2010 immediately before this career year while others agreed. On the other hand, Federer has been there and done everything. He has nothing left to prove - and even if he hadn’t won Basel or Paris, in my eyes he would still be a favourite here and everywhere based on the simple fact that he has done it all already.

Three Thoughts Ahead Of The ATP World Tour Finals

Today in London, the eight qualifiers for the ATP World Tour Finals were drawn into their groups for the very last time in 2011, and we were finally given a glimpse into what the final week of the ATP tour will in store for us. Check out the draw below.

Sunday & Monday OOP

1) Federer-Djokovic and Murray-Nadal who?
It seems like the World Tour Finals is pretty much the only tournament on the planet in which Djokovic-Federer and Murray-Nadal don’t have an invisible magnet drawing them to each other. And thus, we will see an intriguing pair of Round Robin match-ups between Federer-Nadal and Djokovic-Murray instead of the same ol’ match-ups. Of course, that means that the semifinals could well be exactly the same as the four projected Grand Slam semifinal line-ups of this year, but that’s okay.

2) Watch out for the two dark horses.
2011 has been unprecedented in the domination of four players on the rest of the field. But exciting as it has been to sit back and watch these four great players, the lack of consistent competition from the vast pool of talent immediately underneath the four has been a disappointing lowlight of this season. However, both Tsonga and Berdych impressed last week in Paris and are perfectly poised in their groups to create some noise, take out a bigger name or two and possibly even make it out of their groups. And I think they just might do it.

3) Doubles? Love it… but only in moderation.
Ever since I attended the WTFs as a spectator in its inaugural year, it’s hard not to get a bitter taste in my mouth every time when looking at the order of play. Just as only four doubles teams eligible for the WTA year-end event makes the event pointless and uninteresting, eight just feels like too much. The only real purpose it serves is allowing the already extortionate WTFs the chance to create more revenue by enforcing a day and night session with only one singles match per session. A complete waste of money.

Has Andy Murray Regressed?

Three years ago, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal met in the semifinals of the US Open for the first time. Nadal was scared, and he had reason to be as the Scot dispatched of him in straight sets. Many believed it to be Murray’s ‘coming out party’ to start challenging for and winning slams. After all, he was by far etter than Nadal on hardcourts, at least on par with his contemporary Novak Djokovic and had a good. Right?

Three years later, and it hasn’t quite gone to plan. Nadal has improved immeasurably on hardcourts, Djokovic and Murray aren’t even comparable these days and at least Federer’s tennis is certainly on-par with the other two. And Murray? Murray seems almost to be in tennis limbo. This year he has recorded the best slam year of his career and he is far better than almost every player below him. However, in those four slams and 21 match wins, he has only one top 10 win to show for it and the gap between him and the big 3 - both mentally and gamewise - is wide, and steadily widening.

What has forever baffled me about Murray is that he talks so much about his fitness - putting on weight, losing it, putting it back on, changing his diet - and yet every single time he goes up against Nadal he doesn’t even attempt to put that fitness to the test, instead playing a risky uber-aggressive style of tennis aimed at shortening the points. Even after his loss to Nadal, a match which didn’t appear to take much physical toll on him at all, he spoke about going off and working hard to improve his fitness in order to be better equipped the nest time he play. But why? It makes no sense. And when Mark Petchey did suggest ways to improve his game, Murray became visibly annoyed and finished the interview answering with disinterested, monotonous answers.

The explosive style he did try against Nadal, for him, is not sustainable for so many reasons. Firstly, because his forehand is so awful (relative to the rest of his game), and so is his focus and mental strength. Playing that brand of tennis, not only must you have to have conviction and focus throughout the whole match, but you need to understand that you will inevitably make some errors while playing such risky tennis. But when he is mentally (and sometimes physically) beating himself up after every point, it just doesn’t work. Moreover, you just can’t go 5 matches playing uber-defensive tennis and then come up against a 10-time slam champion and attempt to execute a completely different style of play. It just doesn’t work.

One of the biggest talking points of Andy Murray in recent times has been his mental strength and attitude. He has become notorious for his mid-match running commentary - the expletives, the anger, the snark and sarcasm. It can often be funny and many believe it to be endearing, but it’s still a big issue. It’s the type of thing you see in under 14/16 junior events until the players get older and realise how stupid they sound and how much kick a player gets out of seeing them torture themselves. Andy is now 24 years old, the fourth-best tennis player on the planet and yet he still does it day in, day out. At one point they showed an aerial view from above the stadium and while towelling off, Rafa was just staring straight down the other end as Murray swore at and berated himself. Even if he was losing and playing badly, it must give Rafa so much confidence and comfort to see his opponent always so on-edge mentally.

So where does he go from here? Novak has shown that it is possible to completely turn your career around in a small space of time. But Djokovic has also shown that he is willing to take on board criticism, understand and improve the problematic parts of both his game and, well, simply be positive. Murray has done none of the above. Sure, many often say that it’s just part of his personality and something he can’t change or be blamed for, but it could be that these character traits do end up holding him back from ever winning a slam.

The Big Four To Square-Off Once Again

2011 has seen an unprecedented year at the slams from the big four. In the sixteen semi-final spots available this year, only two have been filled by players outside of that charmed square. And even those two were the result of Nadal injuring himself early in his Australian Open quarterfinal and Federer choking a two-set lead in his Wimbledon semifinal. The monopoly continues in Flushing Meadows.

Roger Federer vs Novak Djokovic

We all know what happened the last time these two men met. That finger twirl from Roger after he took out Novak at the French Open wasn’t just elation at reaching the final of the French Open. He showed off because he knew that he had ended the Djokovic winning streak and killed the hype surrounding it, and he was so pleased with himself for doing so.

And it’s this that makes matches between these two so exciting; they’re not friends and nor do they pretend to be (*cough* Rafole). It’s not just a final of the US Open at stake when these two play. it’s also bragging rights. And with two grown, red-blooded men who openly dislike each other, that’s probably an even bigger motivation for both today.

Federer has been playing so well this fortnight, and just as people were almost beginning to hold Tsonga as the favourite after his two recent victories over the GOAT, Fed simply shook his head, flicked his hair, laughed, and then proceeded to dish a beatdown on Tsonga. Djokovic hasn’t been quite so good, with his play far too passive - particularly against Tipsarevic and Dolgopolov. But the Serb has become such an incredible big-match player this year, so expect that all to change today.

Rafael Nadal vs Andy Murray

Three years ago, Andy Murray came of age as he defeated Rafael Nadal in this very round of the US Open in four sets. It was huge. So huge that I still vividly recall Mark Petchey’s triumphant “HE DID IT, HE’S IN THE FINAL!!!!1!” as the Scot put the final nail into Nadal’s 2008 US Open coffin. It seemed like Murray had finally arrived and even if he lost in the final, he had risen to Nadal’s level and the slams would soon follow.

Three years later, Nadal has immensely improved on all surfaces, finally conquring both hard court slams and doubling his Grand Slam tally with five more. Meanwhile Murray’s tally still stands at zero and his only big-time performance against a ‘big 4′ player in a slam came in his retirement vicory over Rafael Nadal in the quarters of Australia in 2010.

For those reasons, this match-up is advantage Nadal. After a slow start, he seems to be playing great this week, with the days of wetting his pants at the mere mention of Novak Djokovic’s name possibly over.

That’s not to say that Murray doesn’t have a chance though, and if he looks to get the first strike in and can keep his forehand together, opportunities will open up. But he’ll need to show so much more resilience and mental strength than at Wimbledon this year when he fell apart from a set and break up after only one bad point.


Nadal in 3.
Djokovic in 5.

Gutsy, gutsy picks. I know.

Players Clash With The USTA; What To Take From It.

After Tuesday’s Day and Night sessions were completely washed out, today brought similar woes as rain threatened to completely throw off the US Open’s schedule and only around 10-12 minutes of play was managed before the players were carted off-court and play was eventually suspended. In a desperate attempt to get players on-court and the fourth round finished, officials decided to put the players on-court during a brief window where the heavy rain became the lightest drizzle. Needless to say, the players were unhappy.

Read more of this post

Let’s Talk About The Men’s US Open Draw, Shall We?

Amongst a slew of raised eyebrows and exasperated headshakes at the appalling handling of the draw ceremony by both the USTA and ESPN, the US Open singles draws were finally drawn and quartered yesterday for the world to see.

For the men’s draw, you couldn’t escape the feeling that it was a complete anti-climax, as for what feels like the thousandth time in the last three years, Djokovic and Federer are seeded to meet each other in one semifinal, with Murray and Nadal in the the other. Yet again, it’s hard to look past those four, and its equally hard not to just roll eyes and shrug like Janko at the rest of the ‘contenders’ in the final slam of the year.

But enough idle discussion. Here’s the men’s draw analysed and discussed.

Djokovic’s quarter
The first few rounds are undeniably soft for Novak Djokovic, but at the same time there’s a hell of a lot of talent in his section, with the most notable names being Richard Gasquet in the fourth round and either Gael Monfils or Tomas Berdych in the quarters. I’d say that Berdych has the best chance of pushing Novak. We all saw him at Cincinnati as he finally appeared to break out of the mediocre form that has defined his year so far, easily dispatching Federer and then looking up to the task of putting Djokovic out of his shoulder-induced misery, before his own shoulder injury struck. Monfils himself took a set off Djokovic at that very tournament, but Berdych is the only player here who has proven that he can step up and produce his very best tennis on the very big stage, and there will always be that (albeit small) chance that he can do it again.

Federer’s quarter
One thing Federer has proven all this year is that playing brilliant tennis in the early rounds means absolutely nothing if you can’t reproduce it in the deep end of tournaments. However, this tough section could be the kick up the ass he needs. Tsonga could beat him, Fish could beat him, Verdas-ok, I’m getting a bit carried away there, but you get the picture. Grandpa Fed is vulnerable right now, so it’ll be interesting to see how this all pans out. One thing I’ll say is that even taking his recent form into account, you would be a fool to bet against him. An idiotic, punkass fool.

Murray’s quarter
For someone who most likely regards the US hardcourts as his favourite surface, his recent results on the stuff have been, well, odd. Over the last two years, he has captured two masters titles on the stuff while simultaneously suffering two early exits in a row at the US Open in addition to first match losses at a grand total of 5 tournaments on US soil in that period

This section could easily add yet another early exit to the list in the form of Wawrinka (last year’s conqurer), Del Potro, Soderling or even Lopez, or else he could ease through his section and into the third round, considering all four are either just coming back from injury or come to the final slam of the year in poor form.

Nadal’s quarter
This, my friends, is what is known on the streetz as a ‘catwalk’. Rafa has been the most vulnerable of all top players recently, but I just can’t see him losing barring a massive disaster for him. Youzhny could well channel his form from this time last year which could give him a good chance of landing the big upset, or else Roddick could play himself into form with his soft draw and begin to resemble the top player again. But yeah, no…

Predictions, predictions, predictions:
Djokovic def. Federer
Nadal def. Soderling

Djokovic def. Nadal (exciting and unpredictable, of course).

Early matches to look forward to:
1R: Gulbis vs Youzhny, Baghdatis vs Isner, Monfils vs Dimitrov
2R: Harrison vs Tomic (which isn’t going to happen, but it’s fun to dream), Federer vs Bellucci (for the laughs), Ferrero vs Monfils

Keep an eye on:
Ryan Harrison

Full draw

Two Guys, One Vase.

Yesterday, Andy Murray picked up his first Masters 1000 title of the year and 7th of his career, leading Novak Djokovic 6-4 *3-0 when the world number one was force to retire.

It was a tough situation all-round. It has to be tough for Andy to win such a big title like that. But he’ll take it. Will the level he showed this week be enough to capture his first slam at the US Open? Not even close. He was far too passive for most of this week and the level of play wasn’t particularly great in any of them. But at the same time, a title is a title and a Masters 1000 is a Masters 1000.

He’ll go to the US Open full of confidence, and judging by the Cowan and co’s excited muttering at the prospect of the Big 3 all being either injured or in poor form at the US Open, with all the British pundits once again expecting him to win his first slam there. Expect an article from Simon Reed claiming that Murray is the favourite to win the US Open in 3, 2, 1…

Of course, it’s also tough for Novak. We all remember the days when he was called ‘Fakervic’ and every top ten player and their dog all systematically criticized him for his various ailments. Nowadays, his peers’ views don’t appear bother him as much as they clearly did back then. And even so, when it got to the point where he was rolling first serves in at 88mph and couldn’t hit forehands without pulling up and wincing in pain, retiring was the only and logical option so close to the US Open. It took him a long time to make that decision, and he was probably more reluctant to quit because of all of the scar tissue from back in the day. However, apparently not everyone was convinced;

My only reaction to that is oh. As in ‘OH, is that Jamie Murray or Janko Tipsarevic?’ It’s one thing to be happy for your brother/friend or whatever. But it’s another thing altogether to start acting like some groupie living your life vicariously through that person and going as far as to start gloating on twitter about it. Grow up, son. It ain’t cool.

But anyway, let’s talk about the ATP in general. Really, this has to be one of the most uninteresting periods on the ATP for a long time. The start of the year was exciting; as the Djokovic run gathered steam, we all watched with baited breath to see who would be the player to end it. In retrospect, it just had to be Roger Federer, and the manner in which he euthanized the streak was stunning. Absolutely stunning.

But since then? Well, all there has been to watch is Rafa’s game and confidence falling apart while Roger has appeared completely disinterested for the most part - the sparkle in every part of his game other than his serve nowhere to be seen. And this all really shows that, contrary to popular belief, there is zero depth in the ATP right now. Every single top 4 player has been playing poorly during this US Open series, and yet no player has been even remotely close to taking advantage. We all thought that Fish’s time had come this week in Cincinnati, but after easing past Nadal, he then put on a complete shocker against Murray and threw away probably the biggest opportunity in his career thus far to pick up a Masters 1000.

So on we go. Who knows what will happen in a week from now when the final slam of the year finally kicks off? It could be a completely boring trainwreck of a tournament continuing on from the trend set by the last handful of weeks, or else something special and unexpected could happen. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…


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