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Old 11-15-2008, 03:17 PM   #166
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http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2008...nis-andymurray

Tired Murray goes down in straight sets to Davydenko

• Russian wins 7-5, 6-2 as British No1 runs out of gas
• Will now face Novak Djokovic in Sunday's Shanghai final


Steve Bierley in Shanghai
guardian.co.uk, Saturday November 15 2008 14.16 GMT




A dejected Murray during his semi-final. Photograph: Nir Elias/Reuters

The Andy Murray who beat Roger Federer, the 13-times grand slam champion, late on Friday night was not the Andy Murray who lost 7-5,6-2 against Russia's Nikolay Davydenko in the semi-finals of the Tennis Masters Cup. From the minute he walked on court it was painfully obvious that he was going to struggle, the body language saying it all, while the Murray entourage, including his coach Miles Maclagan and his mother, Judy, sat quietly with their hands crossed on their laps as if they were in church attending a funeral.

Federer had predicted it would not be a whole lot of fun playing the Russian world No5, who manipulates the ball around the court in the fashion of a chess master. Murray was neither in a position to move nor think his way out of this problem, and as early as the third game he was signalling to Team Murray that he could not run with anything approaching the alacrity he had displayed in the three-hour round-robin match against Federer.

"The first three games were a bit of a killer. There were six or seven really long rallies, and he was moving me right and left. My legs just were not like they had been in the other matches. That's maybe why I made the signal. But it wasn't like I was saying I was giving up." Murray is too much of a fighter and competitor to ever do that, though he managed only seven winners to Davydenko's 33 which, and given Murray's obviously greater ability and talent, this was a crystal clear message concerning his physical condition.

All of the eight players in this season-ending tournament were suffering from various aches and pains, although the three-set formula, this year extended to the final that will see Davydenko play Serbia's Novak Djokovic (who beat Gilles Simon of France 4-6,6-3,7-5 in the first semi-final) is hardly exacting. However Murray had put heart and soul into beating Federer and paid the price. Davydenko was able to sit with his feet up on Friday, while Murray did not get to bed until the small hours of Saturday morning, and was also feeling a little sick.

Given that he had already qualified for the semis by Friday, it might have been prudent for Murray to try and conserve some energy, but he was more interested in defeating Federer for a fourth time in six meetings than winning the title, or collecting the winning prize money of just under £1m - the exchange rate ailing almost on a par with Murray's limbs. As it was he pocketed around £438,000, taking his total year earnings to around £2.5m.

There will be those who may again want to call into question Murray's fitness, though that would be completely unfair. He worked immensely hard last winter and has played more than 70 matches this year, the most ever since he turned professional, and at a higher level than ever before This was only his fifth defeat in 36 since Wimbledon, during which he has won the titles in Cincinnati, Madrid, and St Petersburg, while also reaching his first slam final in New York. He was obviously immensely frustrated not to be able to give his best against Davydenko, and will be determined to work even harder prior to the start of next season. That is a given.

He had already made this clear prior to this week. Murray's goal is to win a slam, and he will push his body in the gym and on the track to the limits to achieve this aim. Few doubt he has the ability, and he has already shown this year that he is capable of beating the world's top players in major competitions, either in the slams or the Masters series. He has also displayed an ability to beat lesser players easily, a facility that is vital in the first four rounds of a major when conserving energy is of the essence.

"Andy clearly wanted to show everyone here that he was the best player by beating Federer," said Davydenko. "But after a three-hour match like that it is very difficult to recover." Murray made no excuses, and believes Davydenko will win the final. "He doesn't miss a whole lot and he takes the ball early. Djokovic had a long match so Davydenko is probably going to be a lot fresher and that should make a big difference." To be sure, it was the big difference in this match.
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Old 11-15-2008, 09:58 PM   #167
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http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/t...o-1020427.html

Murray given runaround by Davydenko

By Paul Newman in Shanghai
Saturday, 15 November 2008


Roger Federer had it right. After losing a draining three-hour thriller to Andy Murray in the Tennis Masters Cup here on Friday night, the former world No 1 was asked whether he would have had enough energy to play Nikolay Davydenko in the semi-finals the following day. “To be honest I’m pretty happy I don’t have a match tomorrow,” Federer said. “Playing Davydenko wouldn’t have been a whole lot of fun. Against him, you have to defend and run and stuff.”

Instead it was Murray who defended and ran, only to be stuffed as Davydenko won 7-5 6-2 to earn a place in today’s final against Novak Djokovic, a 4-6 6-3 7-5 winner over Gilles Simon.

Murray looked exhausted from the moment he entered the Qi Zhong Stadium less than 21 hours after leaving it, the physical, emotional and mental energy expended in beating Federer for the third time this year having clearly taken its toll.

As early as the third game Murray was bent double with fatigue after a particularly lengthy rally. The 21-year-old Scot turned to his entourage and crossed his hands in a gesture indicating that he had nothing more to give. At changeovers he sank into his chair with the relief of a boxer who had been on the end of a pummelling.

For the past four months it has usually been Murray battering opponents into submission, and any disappointment he will feel at not making further progress here will be far outweighed by the reflection that this has been the best year of his career. Since Wimbledon he has lost just five matches.

Murray’s bank manager will also have a smile on his face, his client’s prize money for this season having totalled $3.7million (nearly £2.5m). Although he would have won an additional $940,000 (£633,000) if he had beaten Davydenko and Djokovic here, Murray leaves China richer by $625,000 (£421,000), having banked $300,000 in prize money, a $100,000 participation fee and a $250,000 bonus for having taken part as the year-|ending world No 4.

Having already qualified for the semi-finals of the season-ending tournament, Murray did not need to |extend himself against Federer. If he had lost he would have faced Djokovic in the last four, though he said that he had no preference for his next opponent. Murray, who did not get to bed until 2.30 in the morning after beating Federer, insisted that he had no regrets about having given his all in his final round-robin match.

“I beat probably the best player of all time,” Murray said. “To beat him means a similar amount to winning a tournament like this. Ideally I would have liked to have beaten him more easily and given myself a slightly better chance to prepare for this match, but as you know I don’t like losing. I’m proud that I gave 110 per cent in the match. I think other players might not have taken that option, but I’m happy that I did.”

He added: “Maybe if I’d had that match [against Federer] early in the day it might have been a bit easier for me to recover properly, because there are a lot of things you have to try to fit in after a match of that length. It’s tough when you finish a match at 11:30 at night.”

Davydenko, the world No 5, has never reached a Grand Slam final but is one of the game’s most underrated players. A superb athlete with an aggressive baseline game and a fine return of serve, the 27-year-old Russian is a relentless retriever and a master at manoeuvring his opponents around the court.

He also had the advantage of having rested the previous day, and from the start it was clear that he would have too much in the tank for Murray. Although the Scot broke back immediately after dropping his serve in the opening game, Davydenko broke again at 5-5 and served out for the set.

In the second set Murray held on until 2-2, from which point Davydenko won the last four games to win in an hour and 39 minutes.

Davydenko said: “Murray wanted to show everyone here he is the best player by beating Federer. Maybe he was really tired for today. Recovering to play 24 hours after a three-hour match is very difficult. If he had lost the tie-break in the second set [against Federer] he would have had more of a chance to recover today – and maybe to have played much better against Djokovic.”

Murray, who thinks Davydenko will beat Djokovic in today’s final, added: “He’s a tough guy to play against when you’re not feeling like you can chase every ball down. He doesn’t miss a whole lot. He takes the ball so early. I thought he played really, really well.

“I couldn’t get much going because he was making me do a lot of running. I don’t want to try to make excuses. He played much better than me.”

==================================================

Andy Murray
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Old 11-16-2008, 10:27 PM   #168
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No regrets for Andy Murray but much pride

Neil Harman, Tennis correspondent

Andy Murray is already primed to become the face of London 2009. When the Barclays World Tour Finals - as the Masters Cup is to be renamed - are held at the 02 Arena next November, it is widely expected that the British No1 will have hardened his standing in the game and that he may have a grand-slam title to his name. Murray will be 22, perhaps still a year or so from his best, but his make-up will not have altered. The rest of the sport will be fearful of him.

A year or so ago, one recalls writing that Roger Federer was more apprehensive about playing Murray than any other player and the rebukes arrived by the text-load. Not any more, they would not.

“I have no regrets about playing him [Federer],” Murray said when it was suggested again that straining every fibre in his final group match at the Masters Cup on one evening drained his body of the resources necessary the next, when Nikolay Davydenko, of Russia, devoured him on Saturday in two semi-final sets. Murray had already qualified for the last four before facing Federer. “I'm proud that I gave 110 per cent when other players might not have taken that option,” he said.

Murray finishes the year at No4 in the world, a position upon which he will probably not improve in statistical terms until March at the earliest. But statistics are only half the story, if that. What matters is that he has the attitude, the physical presence and, most important of all, the game to stand shoulder to shoulder with the world's finest. When he says “other players might not have taken that option”, it resonates because he knows it to be true.

Murray has spent the past 12 months laying markers - a first grand-slam final, the first of two Masters Series titles and three other tournament triumphs, the most impressive of which came in St Petersburg. Among those to have been deeply impressed by Murray's progress has been Miles Maclagan, who has been coaching the Scot for 11 months.

Maclagan had been working with Kevin Ullyett, but his fellow Zimbabwean felt that their partnership had run its course and Maclagan rang Patricio Apey, Murray's manager, asking if he knew of anyone who might need a coach. As Murray had just dismissed Brad Gilbert, an opportunity presented itself that Maclagan had not contemplated. They have forged an excellent partnership, more older and younger brother than coach and protégé.

“I thought a lot of Andy when we started and my respect for him has grown over the year, especially in the last few months,” Maclagan said. “To see it from the inside has been incredible. It's not just on the tennis court that he's competitive, it's in everything. After Madrid he was tired, but he showed it in a different way in St Petersburg. It wasn't the biggest of tournaments, but he just couldn't stop himself from fighting and winning.

“I've been fortunate working with Andy to see more of Roger [Federer] and Rafa [Nadal] and they have an unconditional competitive streak. Even Roger, who is very gracious and beautiful to watch, has so much steel. To witness that close up is when you realise that unyielding competitiveness is the overriding characteristic of these top guys.

“From some of the tennis I had seen Andy play before, I thought he was possibly one of the five best, but if you had said he was going to win two Masters and reach the final of a slam, I'd have bitten your hand off.”

Maclagan is neither a chest thumper nor a seeker of the limelight. When Murray turns to his box, if he sees Maclagan applauding, it is about as demonstrative as the coach becomes. But he works tremendously hard and expects that of anyone who wants him in their corner.

When Team Murray return to the Florida training camp where their camaraderie was in its infancy a year ago, it will be, in Maclagan's word, “torture.” He said: “The big focus is going to be physical, because this is the guy's chance to fill up the tanks in terms of strength and endurance. Game-wise, I look on it a bit differently. You are working on stuff throughout the year.

“I don't think there are any problem areas. Obviously every good player would like to make more first serves and do a bit more on the return, but I don't see any problem areas in his game. It's just a question of taking everything to maybe half a level or a level better.

“He's found his game style. I think he's pretty clear on that. It was partly me learning how he should play - and him. There were a few matches early on when he didn't come off feeling that great, but ever since Hamburg he's really built a lot of momentum. After every single match, whether he's won or lost, he's come off the court and we've said: 'We're going forward.'”

And so they are, onwards and upwards. Where it all ends, who can tell, except that the ride is going to be great fun.

Source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/spo...cle5167558.ece
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Old 11-16-2008, 10:30 PM   #169
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Andy Murray's coach Miles Maclagan reflects on a marvellous year for his charge

By Mark Hodgkinson in Shanghai
16 Nov 2008


Watching brief: Miles Maclagan puts Andy Murray through his paces

Call him Mr Mellow. No, not Andy Murray, but his coach, Miles Maclagan. Murray once observed that almost the only time that Maclagan is not "pretty mellow" is when he is losing at the tennis football warm-up game that they like to play on the practice court. Maclagan's calm, modest nature has meant that he has not had the credit he has deserved for helping Murray to put together what has arguably been the most successful season by a British male tennis player since the inter-war Fred Perry.

Not that Maclagan will have minded flying under the tennis radar, of course. "I'm pretty low-key in style," said the Zambian-born Scot, who held match points against Boris Becker in the first round at Wimbledon in 1999, but whose greatest achievement in tennis has come this year in coaching Murray to a grand slam final, finishing as the runner-up to Roger Federer, and taking five titles.

"At times, for example at the US Open, Andy had suddenly got to the final and I thought: 'Holy smoke, as far as coaching is concerned this is the sort of thing you dream about'. I hadn't realised it. We do talk among the team and when Andy's playing Federer in the final of a grand slam or in the semi-finals of a Masters Series, we sometimes have to pinch ourselves a little bit. It does hit you every now and then. But at other times, when you're practising and competing and having fun, it's just like we're a group of guys travelling around the world with a few tennis games interspersed."

At the end of last season, Murray sacked Brad Gilbert, an American coach who could never be described as mellow or modest – and also a man who would never stop talking, who would not use one or two words when he could get away with a thousand. Soon afterwards, as Murray started to assemble a squad of advisers and consultants, he asked Maclagan whether he would like to work with him. And so Maclagan became an important figure in the making of Murray the grand slam contender.

The most important event after the slams – and one which is switching to London next season – is the Masters Cup. Murray's run in Shanghai ended in the semi-finals when he was beaten in straight sets by Nikolay Davydenko. Murray was understandably tired after Friday evening's three-hour group win over Roger Federer, and playing against the Russian can be like hitting forehands against the Great Wall of China – the ball just keeps on coming back.

More than anything, what appears to have struck Maclagan after the year they have had together on the tour is Murray's lust for competition. No one is ever going to accuse Murray of being mellow.

"I thought a lot of him when we started and my respect for him has grown over the year, especially in the last few months. To have seen it from the inside has been incredible. It's not just on the tennis court that he's competitive, it's all-round. He finds a way to get into it and charges himself up," said Maclagan, 34,.

"I've been fortunate in working with Andy to see a little bit more of Roger and Rafa as well, and they have an unconditional competitive streak inside them. Roger is very gracious and beautiful to watch, but there is a steel streak of competitiveness in there. To witness that close up – and I've seen it to a degree with some of the other players as well – is when you realise that the unyielding competitiveness is the overriding characteristic of these top guys."

Maclagan has delighted in Murray's achievements, which brought the world No 4 around £2.5 million in prize money over the season. Before Wimbledon, things did not come so easily to Murray. But, post-Wimbledon, he played some terrific tennis, with wins over Rafael Nadal, Federer and Novak Djokovic. This year, Murray turned the big three into the big four.

"If you had told me at the beginning of the year that he was going to win two Masters Series and get to the final of a slam, I would have bitten your hand off," said Maclagan. "I think Andy has found his game style."

But already thoughts have turned to next season, the year that could see a British male win a grand slam for the first time since Perry in 1936. After a short break, Murray will soon be training in Miami, in an effort to become even more of a physical force on the tennis court. Murray wants to have three more pounds of muscle on him before he appears at an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi in the New Year, to be followed by attempting to retain his title at the ATP event in Doha, and then competing at the first slam of the year, the Australian Open at Melbourne Park. At Murray's side will be tennis's Mr Mellow.

Murray versus Top three in 2008

Murray 1-3 Nadal

Masters Series (Hamburg, clay) Nadal won 6-3, 6-2 R16.
Wimbledon (grass) Nadal won 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 Qtr-final.
Masters Series (Canada, hard) Nadal won 7-6, 6-3 Semi-final.
US Open (hard) Murray won 6-2, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4.

Murray 3-1 Federer

Dubai (hard) Murray won 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 R32.
US Open (hard) Federer won 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 final.
Masters Series (Madrid, hard) Murray 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 semi-final.
Masters Cup (Shanghai, hard) Murray won 4-6, 7-6, 7-5 RR.

Murray 2-1 Djokovic

Masters Series (M. Carlo, clay) Djokovic won 6-0, 6-4 R16.
Masters Series (Canada, hard) Murray won 6-3, 7-6 Qtr-final.
Masters Series (Cincinnati, hard) Murray won 7-6, 7-6 final.

Season’s tally

Five titles: Doha, Marseille, Cincinnati Masters, Madrid Masters, St Petersburg.
Year-end ranking: 4.

Prize money: £2.5m.

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/ten...ge-Tennis.html
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Old 11-16-2008, 10:47 PM   #170
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Oh, that was a nice article. Great to see things from Miles' side of the story.

I was one of the relatively few who thought he was right to break with Gilbert (who I cannot stand!), but I remember saying that although I was not too sure of the "Team Murray" idea, I thought Andy was an intelligent young man who probably knew what would suit him best.

How right he was.
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Old 11-17-2008, 10:04 AM   #171
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http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/spor...ray.4699466.jp

No rest for perfectionist Murray as he prepares to fine tune his skills

Published Date: 17 November 2008
By Alix Ramsay


ANDY Murray's dash to the airport to catch the first flight home was probably the fastest the Scot had moved all weekend. Beaten 7-5, 6-2 in the semi-final of the Masters Cup by Nikolay Davydenko on Saturday, he was utterly exhausted at the end of his most successful season – but there was work still to be done.

The three hours he had taken to defeat Roger Federer on Friday night had left him drained and aching. When he came to face Davydenko, he could barely move in the opening games. But no matter how tired he felt, Murray was not to be beaten easily and it took the Russian nearly an hour and three-quarters to get the better of him. Such is Murray's fighting spirit.

Now, rather than sit back and enjoy a well-earned rest – and take the opportunity to spend some of the £2.5million he has earned this year – Murray will be back at work again next week. His rush to get home was to give himself a few days of breathing space before he starts his warm-weather training in Miami and the build up to his first tournament of the New Year in Doha. His schedule is relentless, but he would not have it any other way.

Miles Maclagan, his coach, will monitor the training regime but he knows that he does not have to behave like a sergeant major – Murray's appetite for success is the only spur the Scot needs to put in the long hours and the hard graft. And as Maclagan has toured the circuit this year, he has only seen that hunger and that competitive fire in the very best.

"I think he has found his game style," Maclagan said. "I just think that now he's comfortable in how he wants to play. It was partly me learning how he should play – and him. But I would probably also say it was that he has become competitive in every single match.

"I've been fortunate in working with Andy to see a little bit more of Roger (Federer] and Rafa (Nadal] as well and they have an unconditional competitive streak inside them. Even with Roger, who is very gracious and beautiful to watch, there is a steel streak of competitiveness in there. To witness that close up is when you realise that the unyielding competitiveness is the overriding characteristic of these top guys."

From leaving Wimbledon after the quarter-final stage, Murray's game has matured and his approach has changed. The more he won, the more he settled into his role as one of the world's top players. These days he can beat anybody when he is playing well, but knows how to win when he is not at his best. The result has been five titles, a place in the US Open final and three victories over Federer. Maclagan is not surprised by the success, but he is a little taken aback that it has all happened so quickly.

"We sometimes have to pinch ourselves a little bit," Maclagan said. "It does hit you every now and then. I thought a lot of Andy when we started and my respect for him has grown over the year, especially in the last few months. To see it from the inside has been incredible. It is not just on the tennis court that he's competitive, it's all-round.

"From some of the tennis I had seen him play before we started working together, I thought he was possibly one of the five best players. But I suppose if you'd said he was going to win two Masters Series and get to the final of a Slam I would have bitten your hand off."

The work in Florida will mainly be on Murray's fitness, strength and stamina. Maclagan does not feel the need to tinker unduly with his charge's game – it is just a matter of improving what is already there. And luckily for Maclagan, Murray is a perfectionist.

"I think the big focus is going to be physical again," Maclagan said, "because this is the guy's chance to really physically fill up the tanks in terms of strength and endurance. Game-wise, I look on it a bit differently. You're working on stuff throughout the year. I don't think there are any problem areas. Obviously every good player would like to make more first serves and do a bit more on the return. But I don't see any problem areas in his game. It is just a question of taking everything to maybe half a level or a level better."

By the time the Masters Cup comes to London next November, Murray and Maclagan will have done everything in their power to ensure that there will be no desperate dash to get away and that the Scot can stroll out of the O2 Arena with the trophy tucked under his arm.
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Old 11-18-2008, 09:40 PM   #172
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Another nice article - but I must say I don't quite agree that there are no problem areas in his game. The words "second serve" spring to mind - I hope he is going to work on improving that.
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Old 11-19-2008, 06:13 PM   #173
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http://www.nu.nl/news/1843655/48/Ten...y_in_Ahoy.html
Not big news or anything but Richard Kraijcek has announced that Andy Murray has agreed to play at the ABN Amro tournament in Rotterdam next year.
Quick translation: Tennis player Andy Murray will be competing at the annual ABN AMRO tournament in Ahoy in februari, the organisation has announced this on monday. The 21 year old Scot currently #4 on the rankings is the second top player to agree to participate at the tournament joining Spaniard Rafeal Nadal.
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Old 11-21-2008, 04:15 PM   #174
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Let's hope he does better than first round next year then!
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Old 11-26-2008, 10:16 PM   #175
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Default Re: Andy, Articles and news

http://http://www.timesonline.co.uk/...cle5233176.ece

The press were presented with a batch of mince pies with “AM” initialled in red icing and jolly splendid they were, too. A couple of years ago, a few of our number might have first checked to make sure nothing bitter had been slipped into the ingredients, but all is sweetness and light these days, especially the pastry. Andy Murray was at Wimbledon to say his farewells before slipping off to Florida for three weeks of intensive preparation for 2009 - the year in which wonderful things are possible.

For two hours he kept company with those licking at their pen nibs in expectation of writing something as juicy as the fare on the table in front of us, taking each inquiry in his stride with the self-assured purpose that decorated all he did on court and off from May onwards.

The British No1 has completed a period of his career when those who had demanded forbearance in his teenage angst years could look at his progress with enormous satisfaction. Never has one wanted the tennis limbo period to end so quickly, never has the anticipation to board the flight to Australia, before the jet lag from Shanghai has worn off, been so intense and never have the prospects for a British player at the herald of a new year appeared so bright.

It probably goes for Murray, too; although when he steps out in the intense heat of the Australian summer - there is an exclusive exhibition in Abu Dhabi and a tournament in Doha to complete en route - he hopes to be 5lb heavier, with an even greater reserve of physical strength so that he can push himself to levels that almost satisfied him at the tail end of 2008 but will not suffice, he knows, if he wants to expand his boundaries from the start of 2009.

The 21-year-old says that he does not eat badly - with the exception of the odd Big Mac when he hopes no one is looking - but that he has not taken nutrition as seriously as he should. Jez Green, who sets his conditioning programme at the start of the year, will be on Murray's case to behave ever more responsibly where diet and fluid intake is concerned. The world No4 is famously banana-unfriendly and recalls during Great Britain's Davis Cup tie against Austria at Wimbledon two months ago being fed a “really strong” juice concoction that he was assured would do him good. It is all about doing that one small thing, be it in his fitness regime or eating habits, that will give him a significant edge.

“I'm not a fitness trainer, so when I had been on my own at tournaments I didn't know what I should do and when I should be doing it,” he said. “At the start of the year, I hadn't been used to training in the middle of tournaments. I hadn't done it before, doing core stuff in the morning, and it takes time to get used to all of that.

“I needed, also, to feel I was going into tournaments feeling comfortable from the first match and there were times, most notably in Indian Wells and Miami in March, when I struggled with that. I needed to be able to take control early in matches and that is getting much better.”

What he wishes he could also control is the progress of the teenage Britons seeking to join him in the highest echelons. “Guys like Dan Evans, who is 18 and the third or fourth-highest of his age on the tour, which is a good sign, and I've practised with Marcus Willis, who I get on well with,” Murray said. “He's a little bit nuts, but I like that.

“In the men's game it is better than it was in terms of depth than when I was 18, but it doesn't matter how good they were as juniors, it's that next step, next year and the year after.

“I have watched some of their fitness programmes, I've had a word with Marcus about his weight - he is a little bit heavy for his age and he needed to sort that out - but all are very competitive, hard-working guys, which is a change from what it was.”

That judgment should satisfy the LTA councillors who congregate at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton today for a monthly meeting. What concerns them more are tales of extravagant bonuses paid to LTA employees and whether the senior officials should be called to account. Murray's views on that were not sought, but they might have been as tasty as the mince pies.
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Old 11-28-2008, 02:42 PM   #176
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Feeling lost without news of Andy? Here's a really nice article in the Scottish Sun, with a lot of info on what he is doing for the rest of this year, and on his general attitude: http://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/scot...cle1972224.ece

It's a bit too long to post here, plus if you click on the link you'll get to see some nice photos as well
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Old 11-28-2008, 08:24 PM   #177
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thanks a lot Madeline!
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Old 11-30-2008, 07:42 PM   #178
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A gentleman and a scholar

30 November 2008
By Alix Ramsay

ANDY Murray has learned how to charm as well as how to win big over the course of a great year

CHRISTMAS IS definitely in the air and there is a spirit of goodwill towards all men (the Chancellor of the Exchequer and all bankers aside, naturally). Even in the usually cut-throat world of men's tennis, a warm, fuzzy feeling is in evidence.
Andy Murray settles into his winter training base in Miami, he is in a relaxed and convivial mood. The workload in front of him is fierce; the season ahead has the potential for a bitter battle at the top for ranking points and major prizes and yet Scotland's finest is still filled with bonhomie.

This year he has beaten Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic and come, as he puts it, "effectively three sets away" from winning a grand slam title in the US Open final. Yet, as he shakes the jet lag from his legs and makes for the gym, he has no wish to shatter the reputations of the good and the great or to thrash them. These men are his peers, his workmates and his friends.

"If I'm being honest I get on really well with all of the players," he said, amiably. "Federer, when I see him, I'll have a chat to him – Nadal, Djokovic, (Andy] Roddick, all of them. Obviously when we get on court we're rivals, but I think the one thing that has been much better in tennis the last few years has been the sportsmanship. A lot of players are very complimentary about each other – the embracing at the end of matches because a lot of the tennis has been so good – I think that's something that tennis has got to be proud of over the last few years."

They are hardly the words of the battle-weary street fighters who held sway in the Seventies and Eighties and it is hard to imagine John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors exchanging pleasantries over the festive mince pies. But the sport has changed in the last five years and Federer and Nadal – two of the nicest champions you could hope to meet – are the velvet-gloved assassins: they smile, they sign autographs and then they crush all before them. And now Murray is one of their gang.

With five titles to his name in 2008, this has been Murray's most successful season to date – and probably the most successful season of any British man since Fred Perry – and he has established himself as one of the four contenders at the top of the rankings. Although he is 1,500 points behind Djokovic, the world No.3, and 3,000 points behind Nadal at No.1, there is plenty of clear blue water between Murray and the rest of the men in the top 10. He may show a great deal of respect to his betters, but Murray still knows his place in the pecking order.

"It depends how you look at it," Murray said. "Obviously in terms of ranking points I'm a long, long way behind them. But my results over those guys speak for themselves. I beat Djokovic a couple of times this year, Federer three times and also Nadal. So I can win against them, but if I'm going to be right in amongst them I need to play consistently well for the whole year rather than just right at the end."

In order to achieve that goal, Murray is putting himself through the training mill again this winter. Jez Green, one of his two fitness trainers, may be a friend but he is also a hard task-master and the weight training, 400m repetitions and 100m sprints will push Murray to his very limits. It is brutally hard work – so much so that not even the most outrageous line call can get him as worked up as the thought of another timed lap of the track or another set of sprints.

"I think the physical side of things has made such a huge difference," Murray said. "I find playing a tennis match much easier than I did before because the work off the court is much harder and the angry moments come out at the gym or on the running track rather than on the tennis court. That has made a big difference, especially in the long matches in the slams."

As he climbs the rankings and knocks on the door of the major championships, so the expectation grows. To those on the sidelines, the pressure seems unbearable but, to Murray, nothing has changed. These days, he may be older, fitter and wiser but the 21-year-old from Dunblane is the same ambitious soul he was when he first picked up a tennis racquet.

"I've always said I want to win a grand slam, so for me it's not as though there's any extra pressure, regardless of whether it was a few years ago or now," he said. "I've always wanted to try to do it. It gives me confidence that I'm closer now than I ever was. I can still improve on a lot of things and I believe that I can do it, whether it's next year or in the next two or three years."

All that does seem to have changed is the public's view of Murray. The few critical voices – usually those of the London-based media – are drowned out by the ever-growing band of supporters who follow his success around the globe. In China, he won over a raft of new fans during his week at the Masters Cup in Shanghai while at home he is the new poster boy for an unexpected group of admirers.

"I got some funny stuff in China," he said. "Some Chinese fans, they actually made a jigsaw puzzle of my face. I had to make it up and, no, thankfully, I didn't have to look at the picture on the box first.

"But I do get a lot of fan mail from older people, from 65 or 70-year-olds. It's surprising that I get so many from grannies and grandpas."

Quite what the All England Club will say about ladies of a certain age flinging their Damart double-knit thermals on to the hallowed Centre Court grass remains to be seen, but Murray's reputation as a serial winner is growing, so much so that he is one of the main attractions at the winner-takes-all $250,000 exhibition event in Abu Dhabi at the start of the New Year. From there he will head for Qatar for the defence of his Doha title before going on to Melbourne and the Australian Open.

In the Middle East he will rub shoulders again with his old pals Federer, Nadal and Roddick. But by the time the season begins in earnest on January 5, the Christmas spirit will have worn off and there will be no holds barred in 2009.

Source: http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com...lar.4746069.jp
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Old 12-01-2008, 05:32 PM   #179
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Old 12-02-2008, 05:43 PM   #180
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http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2008...ymurray-tennis

Mature Murray adds a canny fame game to his impressive repertoire
After a breakthrough year, Britain's top player tells Jon Henderson about life as a celebrity - and says what he must do to catch the gang of three

Jon Henderson
The Observer, Sunday November 30 2008


If Andy Murray is not quite up there yet with Lewis Hamilton on the charm-ometer, he is pushing the needle rapidly in that direction - which, after the curled lips, sullenness and quick, furtive glances of not so long ago, is quite something.

His 2008-appointed PR guru, Stuart Higgins, can take credit, but only part of it. No one can make a rounded human being out of a tosspot and Murray's apparent transformation is simply a revelation of what lay within the Tim Henman-styled 'miserable git' in the same way that his impressive advance as a player this year has been an unveiling of his innate ability. And it is no coincidence that both have exhibited themselves at the same time. His improvement as a player has fed off his maturing as a person. Or maybe it is the other way around. Who knows?

Murray is open and interesting on a range of subjects when he comes to a bleak, autumnal Wimbledon to reflect on his year of plenty - $3.7m banked in prize money alone - that must be the envy of two fellow London-based Scots who are trying to balance the nation's books. He rose from 11 in the world to four, beat the mighty Roger Federer three times, won five titles, including two in the Masters series that is just below the grand slams, and reached the final of the US Open. He also celebrated his 21st birthday in May, on a day when even a stuffing by Nadal in a clay-court match in Hamburg did not completely spoil his celebrations. His granny provided consolation by bringing over a favourite cake from Scotland. Murray is big on family and says this is one reason he will never do a Lewis Hamilton and live abroad.

From being pretty well known, Murray can probably now be classified as famous. 'Yes, this year, especially towards the end of the year, I've been recognised a lot more,' he says. 'But I don't really go out that much. I spend a lot of time walking the dog on the common. Pretty dull, actually.' He makes no attempt to hide his identity on these outings. 'I don't really wear hats. I just wear normal clothes and try to mix in. People do stop me for photos or an autograph, and everyone's been very supportive.'

There is a lot of fan mail now, too, he says. Mostly from girls? 'Careful,' Higgins interjects, which may account for what sounds suspiciously like a canny reply. 'I do get a lot from older people - 65 to 70,' he says, giving what is surely a fact too far. 'It's a mixture, but it's surprising that I get so many from grandparents being very supportive of everything I've done over the past few years.'

The unsupportive letters, which multiplied when he made an ill-judged joke about supporting 'anyone but England' during the 2006 World Cup, have largely dried up. 'It's started to get better the last year or so. Around the time, the reaction wasn't abusive - it wasn't swearing or whatever - it just wasn't particularly nice. People don't mention it to me so much, but my fitness trainer and others around me have a lot of friends who think that I don't like English people, which is obviously not true.' Exhibit one in this respect is his English girlfriend Kim Sears, although he stops short of mentioning her by name.

Criticism of his on-court behaviour is also on the wane. He explains the process by which he has curbed his anger, while still managing to become very visibly pumped-up: 'I always said that I wanted to get better at around this time in my career and that when I did work on it, it would definitely improve. The physical side of things is what has made such a huge difference. I find playing a tennis match much easier than I did before because the work off the court is much harder. The angry moments come out in the gym and on the running track now rather than when I'm playing. It's made a big difference, especially in the long matches in the grand slams.'

More cathartic moments in the gym are in store over the next few weeks as he tries to add bulk before the 2009 season starts on 5 January. 'I'll work on my upper-body strength. I want to put on a bit more weight - three or four kilos - which means I have to eat a lot and do a lot more weights. I'll do similar things to what I did last December, but everything just a little bit faster, a little bit heavier because my base is that much better this year.' With the help of a high-protein diet - steaks, sushi, which is a Murray favourite, and plenty of eggs for breakfast - his aim is to get up to 86kg (13 and a half stone). 'It's not so hard getting there, but it's maintaining the added weight through the year that's difficult.' 'Oh, I don't know,' a voice off says and Murray cracks up with everyone else.

The most significant breakthrough Murray made in 2008 was none of those listed above but the one-on-one victories over his contemporaries Nadal and Novak Djokovic. He had already beaten Federer, who is nearly six years older than him; defeating the other two was proving beyond him, which was disturbing as his most competitive years will run alongside theirs. He ended his poor run against Djokovic in the quarter-finals of the Toronto Masters in July and did him again in the final of the Cincinnati Masters nine days later. Then, in a memorable semi-final at the US Open spread over two days, he ground down and broke Nadal, a fitness fanatic who likes to parade what had been regarded as his indomitable physicality.

Djokovic's dominance had been a particular worry: four wins out of four without dropping a set, three of them on hard courts - Murray's best surface. 'It was tough. I played against him quite a bit when we were younger and I was better than him between, say, 12 and 14 - but then he got better than me and I struggled after that. I just needed to get physically stronger because that was the huge difference between us at the beginning of last year. I knew that if I did get stronger I always had stuff that caused him problems.'

Even so, despite catching up, he knows he still has not earned the right to join Nadal, Federer and Djokovic, the gang of three who monopolised the 2008 grand slams. 'Obviously, in terms of ranking points, I'm a long way behind them,' he says, 'and, although my results against those guys speak for themselves, if I'm going to get right in among them I need to play consistently well for the whole year rather than right at the end.'

He says he does not regard it as placing a burden on himself that the consistency to which he refers would have to include winning a first grand slam, something a British male has not done since Fred Perry won the 1936 US Championship. 'I've always said I want to win a grand slam, so for me it's not as though there's any extra pressure. It just gives me confidence that I'm closer now than I ever was. I can still improve on a lot of things and I believe that I can do it, whether it's next year or in the next two or three years.'

The grand slams he has the best chance of winning in 2009 are the two played on hard surfaces, the Australian and US Opens. His eight career titles have all been won either on hard courts, outdoors and inside, or on indoor synthetic courts. He may have a squeak of a chance at Wimbledon, where the Federer-Nadal Show on Grass is becoming a second-Sunday fixture, but not even a squeak on clay at the French Open. 'If I had to bet on anyone winning two grand slams next year, I'd bet on Nadal doing it again. The French Open is going to be his again, the guy's ridiculous on clay, and he's got a shot at all the others, but it's going to be tougher than it was in previous years.' He leaves hanging that his arrival at the top is why it will be tougher.

It was barely three years ago that Murray whispered in Federer's ear after a Davis Cup doubles in Geneva what a privilege it had been to play on the same court as him. How far he has travelled since then, as a player and a person. Some people don't travel as far in a lifetime. At one point during the interview, when the conversation turns to friendships on the tour, Murray sounds almost like an elder statesman. 'The one thing that has been much better in tennis in the past few years has been the sportsmanship,' he says. 'I think it has been great. A lot of the players are very complimentary about each other; they embrace at the end of matches because the level of the tennis has been so good. I think that's something that tennis has got to be proud of.'

And there were we, convinced he was going to turn into Super Brat II.
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