From The Times
January 5, 2010
Laura Robson and Andy Murray enjoy mixed fortunes before claiming Hopman Cup win
Robson and Murray made a successful start to their partnership but sterner challenges are imminent
Neil Harman, Tennis Correspondent, Perth
So there is another Murray who is pretty handy at mixed doubles. But let no one take seriously Andy Murray’s gibe that he alone was responsible for Britain’s win over Kazakhstan in the Hyundai Hopman Cup.
Asked if he had suffered any aches and pains during his first two matches of 2010, Murray remarked that the worst was when Laura Robson struck him in the back with her racket. Her gesture had been meant to applaud her partner, not chide him; Murray joked that his back was “sore already because I’d been carrying her”.
Robson threw Murray one of those looks that only a man knows. For had the 15-year-old not stood her ground in the decisive champions’ tie-break of their mixed doubles, the outcome of the group A tie might have been decidedly less auspicious.
Robson had lost the opening singles 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 to Yaroslava Shvedova before Murray restored parity with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Andrey Golubev. In the deciding mixed doubles, the British pair were match point down when Robson produced two forehand volleys, neither of which she middled, that turned the tables.
It was also her second serve on Britain’s second match point that Golubev rather gallantly chose to try to lash into next week. With that, honour was satisfied for the pair who are the marketing men’s real dream at this event, whatever Lleyton Hewitt and Samantha Stosur, of Australia, might tell you.
In defeating Golubev and Shvedova 6-3, 5-7, (12-10), Murray and Robson have a foothold in the competition, although they know that Germany, in Philipp Kohlschreiber and Sabine Lisicki, and Igor Andreev and Elena Dementieva, of Russia, offer sterner challenges ahead. As an opening performance together, though, it began as a bit of a wheeze and ended in full business mode. And few players do their business more sharply than Murray.
It probably rankles just a bit that Jamie, his elder brother, can, if he is losing an argument, wave his Wimbledon winner’s medal for the mixed doubles in 2008 under Andy’s nose. As a prelude to his initiation with Robson, the British No 1 said he was “rubbish at mixed”. Even in its wake, he was a bit pained. “I’m not quite sure about the etiquette,” he said. “Laura told me that the men players are supposed to hit it as hard as possible to the woman, but I’d like to have that cleared up before I do it.”
From 5-0 up in the first set, Murray continued to be chivalrous towards Shvedova when a bit of spite would not have gone amiss. Actually, when the British pair secured break points in successive service games from Golubev in the second set, Murray made the ricks, crossing into Robson’s territory on the baseline to scoop one forehand long and then to attempt to dink an undersliced forehand winner when he ought to have hit through Shvedova at the net. He will learn.
For Robson and Murray, though, this was a test of resolve from which they emerged richer for the experience. Murray spoke of his pleasure at playing four sets of tennis in almost three hours and although it was in the evening and indoors, the temperatures inside the Burswood Dome were still stifling. “All round, it was a perfect day,” he said. “I felt a bit stiff during the match, but that was only to be expected. As the guy, you have to be more aggressive, take a few more chances and be excellent in your movement, which gives you the confidence to do other things. I was very happy with the way I played.”
He served well, too; a couple of humdingers at 215km/h (about 134mph) earned him the kind of free points that will be essential when it is five sets and the mercury is nearing 35C (95F) at the Australian Open, which starts on January 18. Robson is also beginning to look the professional part although, as one Australian supporter said: “She has too much of a tan to be a Brit.”