After Roger Federer stunned the world by smashing a racquet in the semis of the Sony Ericsson Open on Friday (from the uproar, you’d think he’d bludgeoned a baby seal), the ATP courageously decided to continue with the tournament.
So Andy Murray played Novak Djokovic in the final on Sunday and Andy Murray (to almost no one’s surprise) beat Nole in straight sets: 6-2, 7-5.
It’s been fun seeing more of Murray this year, given his early season successes. In theory, I know Murray’s M.O. – amazing defense and anticipation, an ability to mix up the pace and spin, the use of those long canines of his to intimidate his tender-fleshed opponents. I could bluff and say that I “get” Murray, but in truth, he still amazes and mystifies me.
So I was glad that he explained his game in his post-final presser yesterday:
Q. You’re a guy that obviously mixes it up a lot as far as pace and placement. Is that particularly important against a guy like Novak to do that?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I mean, I think against a lot of guys it works. Because, you know, majority of the players now, they play so well from the baseline from both sides, that if you can, you know, use some slice and dropshots, some high balls and stuff, it just takes them out of their comfort zone. It’s sort of my way of dictating how the match is getting played. You know, a lot of people might not necessarily think my game looks the most aggressive or offensive, but very few times will I sort of not have the points played how I like them to be played. Sort of slowing the pace down a little bit and using the slice. I don’t often get guys sort of hitting through me.
And I’m going to have a lot more chances to figure him out, if things go as he plans:
Q. What do you expect this year for your ranking?
ANDY MURRAY: I want to try and improve it. I think the clay court season will be very important for me. On the hardcourts, I think my game is up there with the top guys. On grass it definitely got better last year. But on clay, it hasn’t been the same as them, and that’s where they have picked up sort of a lot of the points and stuff. If you got rid of the clay court season’s points, I think I would be very close to Roger, and not too far behind Rafa. I need to improve my results on clay. If I do that, there’s a chance I’ll get higher.
So how about it folks, is Murray winning his first Major this year? I’d say he’s a shoe-in except that Wimbledon is going to be complete madness for him and the U.S. Open is a long time from now. But based on his performance so far this season, he’s still the best bet after Nadal.
Oh, and Djokovic’s presser was nice, too – he had some interesting (and funny) things to say about his trouble with the heat (“can’t fight it”), his clay court schedule (“skipping the French – just kidding”) and the likelihood that S&V will make a comeback (uh, no). Click here for more.
I’m still hoping to do a little IW/SEO round up today. You know, before we all get distracted by the clay court action in Casablanca (top seed, Igor Andreev – whoo hoo!)