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Old 12-19-2005, 02:23 AM   #46
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Default Re: Andy, Articles and news

Here's another article on young Andy:

New kid on the block
By Clive White
(Filed: 18/12/2005)

When Marcel Granollers-Pujol, a 19-year-old Spanish tennis player, left the court in Sunderland last month after losing in a lowly Challenger event to the unremarkable Arvind Parmar, of Britain, he must have wondered to himself where his year went wrong. Back in late May, in Ettlingen, Germany, when playing in the Badden Open before a crowd of about three people, he had thrashed one Andy Murray in straight sets.

Taking over: Andy Murray (l) from Tim Henman (r)
Granollers was the last 'nobody' to do that to the precocious Scot. Two weeks later the young man from Dunblane was lighting the blue touchpaper to his rocket-like rise to the top, as he, in turn, thrashed the world-ranked Taylor Dent, of the United States, in the Stella Artois Championship at Queen's Club. Granollers, meanwhile, was setting out on the slippery slope to Sunderland. In fact, he was winging his way to a respectable victory in a Spanish Futures event, but you get my drift.

As the 18-year-old Murray went from one Grand Slam triumph to another, one Davis Cup whitewash to a first ATP final, against the great Roger Federer, the wannabe Murray - or better still Rafael Nadal - could be excused for thinking, "Why not me?" But apart from the helping hand of a wild card at Queen's, fortune has had little to do with Murray's meteoric rise, as doubtless Granollers would be the first to admit.

Luck would not have got him through one game against Dent (twice), Radek Stepanek, Andrei Pavel, Robby Ginepri, Paradorn Srichaphan, Tomas Berdych and, of course, his idol Tim Henman, not to mention narrow defeats to Thomas Johansson, David Nalbandian, Arnaud Clement and Fernando Gonzalez. Well, actually, it probably would have done against Henman in the first set of their much-hyped clash in Basle because the British No 1 was playing so pitifully at the time.

Many people will reflect on that match as the moment the baton or the torch, or whatever it was supposed to be, changed hands in British tennis. But for Murray's much-publicised growing pains that so-called symbolic moment could easily have come four months earlier, at Queen's. The two were scheduled to meet in the quarter-finals, but Murray, when within two points of another famous victory, against Johansson, twisted his ankle and suffered the first of two untimely bouts of cramp during the summer.

Henman, who was playing even worse than he was in Basle, never got anywhere near as close to beating Johansson when they eventually met. John McEnroe, The Sunday Telegraph columnist, reckoned then that the British No 1 had probably got himself into a bit of a state over the prospect of playing Murray, a match in which he would have had little to win and everything to lose, but, as it turned out, Henman's indifferent form against the Swede was just typical of his year.

His nerves were certainly there for all to see when the showdown, for want of a better word, eventually materialised in the Davidoff Swiss Indoors. Murray's uncharacteristic lack of exuberance after his 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 victory may have been a conscious show of respect for his elder, but his reaction might have been different if "the old man" had put up a better show.

The 31-year-old would probably rather retire than lose like that again. Henman's degenerative back condition, however, makes a better showing next time the two meet unlikely and the Australian Open next month could tell us how long he has left in the game. The warm Melbourne sunshine should be good for his back but, on the other hand, the sticky Rebound Ace surface there can be unforgiving for those with physical conditions even less troublesome than Henman's.

Murray and his coach, Mark Petchey, decided to call a halt to an incredibly successful first year or more like half year on the tour, one which saw his ranking rise from 422 in March to 63 just seven months later, two matches on from the one against Henman. In those two matches, he comprehensively beat Berdych and then lost in three sets to Gonzalez, who went on to win the Davidoff. Any other young player would have been delighted to take the Chilean world No 11 to three sets but not Murray, such are the standards he sets himself.

As for the performance against the 20-year-old Berdych, a young player he can expect to cross rackets with a lot more in the years to come, that was given even greater significance when the following month the Czech Republic player, to the amazement of all, won the Paris Masters. One wonders what Granollers-Pujol made of that - or more to the point, Murray.

www.telegraph.co.uk/cwhite
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Old 12-21-2005, 08:25 PM   #47
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Default Re: Andy, Articles and news

21 December 2005 15:23 Home > Sport > Tennis
Andy Murray: 'I always believed I was going to make it'
In the first of a series of major interviews with sporting figures who shaped the last 12 months, John Roberts talks to the great hope of British tennis about finding his feet on tour, fighting back from injury, and facing Roger Federer for the first time
Published: 21 December 2005

'Wimbledon for me is obviously a big tournament, but I don't see it as my biggest opportunity to win a Grand Slam' Seated in the lobby of Aberdeen's Marcliffe at Pitfodels hotel, Andy Murray is reflecting on the impact he has made in 2005, his rookie year on the ATP Tour. By any standards it has been an extraordinary 12 months.

The lanky 18-year-old from Dunblane won the US Open junior title in 2004, ending that season ranked No 411 in the world. He has since established himself as a contender and is about to unlock tournament doors with a ranking of No 64.

Named Player of the Year by the Lawn Tennis Association, Murray may be ready to sweep past the ageing Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski as leader of a sparse British pack.

Before reminiscing about the key moments of the season, however, Murray has cause to wince when recalling how it had started. "I hurt my back in January, when I was in South America," he says. "I think it was because I was growing a lot. So the first three months didn't go very well for me. I had to take some time off, and I didn't really enjoy that too much, because I'd been out with a knee injury for six months at the start of 2004."

Murray underwent a medical examination in Dijon, France, in November. "I just need to do a lot of work on my back, which is a bit weak," he says. "Basically what happened was that when I was around 16, when I was doing most of my growing, I was playing a lot of tennis and the bones hadn't finished developing. The two bones on my lower spine is where the problem is. I just need to get my back strong and then, hopefully, the bones will fuse together, and then it'll be OK."

He is looking forward to a pain-free start next month en route to the Australian Open. "This year, I missed pretty well all of February and half of March, and then I played a few Futures tournaments in Spain in April and then in May I played the French Open juniors.

"It was after the French Open juniors that I started to play well. I got the wild cards into Queen's and Wimbledon and had some good wins. I lost two very close matches to two guys who were in the top 10 after Wimbledon, and obviously [David] Nalbandian went on and won the Masters Cup."

Nalbandian, who defeated Murray after five sets at Wimbledon, ended the year on a high, defeating Roger Federer in the Masters Cup final in Shanghai, and the Czech Tomas Berdych, defeated by Murray in Basle, went on to win the Paris Masters.

"If you look at the results I've had," Murray says, "there's only one result that I can look at and say I haven't done myself justice, and that's when I lost [to Antony Dupuis] in the second round in Newport. But the grass courts there weren't great. I wasn't enjoying playing there too much.

"I played against [Marat] Safin [at the Cincinnati Masters]. I took a set off him, and he had won the Australian Open. I played Federer [in the final in Bangkok], and had a close match with him. I was quite happy with the way I played. And Nalbandian, five sets with him. And I almost won against [Thomas] Johansson [at Queen's]. All the matches I've lost have been kind of close, bar the one in Newport. So it's been a good year for me, the last three or four months in particular. I'm just looking forward to starting next year now."

Murray twisted his left ankle during the match against Johansson and continues to wear a support. "Basically, I twisted that ankle when I was younger and it didn't heal properly," he says. "It's not that it's weaker. It's just much more flexible than my right one, so there's more chance of me turning that ankle. The support that I use doesn't actually restrict my movement and it doesn't stop my ankle doing anything it should do. It's just like running normally, but it gives me a little bit of extra support on the wide balls if I'm going to twist it. It's very light, so I'm going to play with it on all the time now."

He changed his coach midway through the season, parting from the Colombian guru, Pato Alvarez. "He's coached so many good players, and he wanted me to get to the top very quickly," Murray recalls. "At the start of the year, he said, 'Top 100 by the French Open and top 50 by the end of the year'.

"If I hadn't got injured at the start of the year and missed the first three months, he wouldn't have been that far off. A lot of people were saying, 'He doesn't know what he's talking about'. But in the end you can't really complain about what he said.

"He taught me a lot. He has a lot of experience and he taught me how to play basic tennis, which is great. But I think for me to reach my full potential I needed someone to teach me other things. Mark [Petchey], for example, is perfect for that because he used to play the serve-and-volley and use a lot of slice, and played a little bit different."

Did Alvarez want Murray to play a more defensive game?

"He wanted me to play on clay courts all the time. I do like playing on clay courts, but I probably have my best results on hard courts, so I thought it was better to change the surfaces of the tournaments I was playing. But I don't really have anything bad to say about him. He's a very good coach.

"He coached Emilio [Sanchez] when he was in the top 10. He's coached 30 or 40 players that have been in the top 50. He's coached a No 1 doubles pair. It was difficult for someone my age to be travelling alone with him, but he is one of the best coaches in the world."

Perhaps the experience of winning the doubles with David Sherwood in the Davis Cup tie in Israel in February gave Murray the feeling that he was moving towards the big-time?

"That was the first really big match that I'd played," he says, "but afterwards I didn't feel much different. It maybe gave me a bit more confidence, but I was still ranked around 400 in the world. It was only a doubles match. You can't really say that just because I won one match in Davis Cup I was going to go on and do well.

"The one thing I did know was that I could deal with the pressure. There was a lot of pressure on that match, because if we'd lost we'd have been 2-1 down and it would probably have gone to the deciding match, and I was going to play in it. And that would have been difficult, playing my first Davis Cup singles match in a decider."

A wild card for the Stella Artois Championships at Queen's Club was the prelude to Murray's breakthrough. "I got a lot of confidence from there. I play OK on grass, but I had a good first-round draw against [Santiago Venura] a Spanish guy who hadn't been playing that well. I won against him quite easily, and then won against Taylor Dent, who's a very good grass-court player and in the top 30. And then to play against Johansson and to twist my ankle when I was two points away from winning was pretty hard to take.

"I had to take eight or nine days off after that. I didn't have great preparation for Wimbledon, which might be one of the reasons why I got tired in my match with Nalbandian."

The spotlight was on Murray in every match of his first Wimbledon campaign. "Tim [Henman] maybe puts a bit of extra pressure on himself, because grass is his best surface," Murray reasons. "Wimbledon for me is obviously a big tournament, but I don't see it as my biggest opportunity to win a Grand Slam. When I was playing there I didn't think I was going to do that well, so maybe I was a bit more relaxed than I might be at some of the other Grand Slams. Obviously, there's a lot of media hype, but it doesn't really affect me that much. I don't concentrate on it."

Apart from the blip in Newport, Rhode Island, Murray's build-up to the US Open was promising, and he qualified for the main draw at Flushing Meadows. Many people thought that qualifying for the US Open was one of his best achievements, but he was annoyed that he was not given a wild card.

"It was quite hard for me to be told that I wasn't going to get a wild card," he said. "I thought I was going to get the support from Wimbledon, which could be a tournament where I could be the main player in the next few years after Tim and Greg stop.

"I got told [I wasn't getting a wild card for the US Open] just before I went on court against Safin [in Cincinnati], and it wasn't really the best way to prepare for my match. The reason why I wanted a wild card was because I'd been playing eight weeks in a row in America, and I'd been doing well and had done a lot of travelling. I was a bit tired. It would have given me five or six more days to rest before I played, but I had to go and qualify, which is never easy because the players all play so well now, and you have to be up for every match. It was difficult, but I was happy with the way that I played in New York. I was a bit unfortunate against [Arnaud] Clement."

Had he felt pressure at the US Open, having won the junior title the year before?

"I've never really felt any pressure in any of the matches that I've played, because it was my first year on the Tour and everything was a new experience. So all the matches I played I went into not really knowing what to expect. I wasn't thinking I was going to win against a lot of the top players, but I managed to do it. I don't think [pressure] was a problem in any of my matches. I won against a very good player in [Andrei] Pavel, who has been in the top 20. And I almost won against Clement. But I didn't put any extra pressure on myself."

Grass may not be Murray's best surface, but Henman and other attacking players reckon the Wimbledon courts now play slower than they used to do.

"When I played the juniors there for the first time, when I was 16, the courts were really quick," Murray says. "When I played this year, Court One was really slow. The ball does stay quite low, and the guys who serve-volley can still play well on it. There's more chance of the guys from the baseline doing well now. I think it suits all games now. I think the guys who are going to do best on grass are the ones who can do everything, all-round players, like a Federer."

Murray likes the rubberised concrete courts in America, and the hard courts at the Australian Open may also suit his game. "I think the courts in Australia are quite sticky," he says, "I've heard that when you go for the wide balls it almost feels like it's hard to get back into the court. I'll just have to wait and see. Everybody who I've spoken to thinks that it will probably be my best surface, so I'm looking forward to it."

Although he had predicted that he would finish his first year on the Tour in the top 100, did his success surprise him?

"It didn't really surprise me. At the start of the year I had my goal. I wanted to get into the top 100 and I believed I was going to do it. Maybe it came a month earlier than I might have expected, but I knew I was going to get my chance around Queen's/Wimbledon time. It's just about taking your opportunities when you're coming through. And I did that. I always believed in myself.

"A lot of people, after the start to the year that I had, were saying, 'Maybe he should keep his mouth shut'. It's difficult now to know what to do when you're a Briton. If I had said, 'OK, I want to get into the top 300 by the end of next year', what's the point in that? Nobody's going to take any interest. Let me believe what I want to believe."

Murray's year

BEST MOMENT OF THE YEAR

'Around Queen's/Wimbledon time is when I really started to take off'

WORST MOMENT OF THE YEAR

'There's only one result that I can look at and say I haven't done myself justice, and that's when I lost [to Antony Dupuis, of France] in the second round in Newport [Rhode Island]'

AMBITIONS FOR 2006

'I just need to win seven or eight matches in the first six or seven tournaments of the year, then I'll be in the Masters Series events. I want to be seeded around Wimbledon time'

TOMORROW 'I did promise myself just one quiet moment in the Twickenham tunnel. Those five or six seconds were the highlight of my career...'

Martin Corry looks back at his 2005

http://sport.independent.co.uk/tennis/article334417.ece
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"Pero, con todos mis respetos para Rafa, Federer tiene más talento." - Marat Safin
"Pero para mí el mejor es Roger Federer. / For me, the best is Roger Federer." - D. Nalbandian
"He's the best sportsman, I think, in the world. He has a lot of humble." - Rafael Nadal
"He's so charismatic." - Marcos Baghdatis

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Old 12-21-2005, 11:05 PM   #48
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Default Re: Andy, Articles and news

Thanks for all the articles!
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Old 12-27-2005, 07:47 PM   #49
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You're welcome, here are more:

Review of the Year
The brilliance and frailty of the boy who would be king

The Scottish teenager eclipsed Henman at Wimbledon and then beat him in their first meeting to prove his rising stature
Steve Bierley
Saturday December 24, 2005
The Guardian

Just before Wimbledon this year Andy Murray and his mother, Judy, were strolling through the All England Club having finished a practice session in Aorangi Park. The teenager paused briefly outside Centre Court and, with the transparent confidence of youth, asserted: "I want to play in there."
"You may have to wait two or three years," said his mother, smiling. "Why?" he replied. The response typified Murray's inner belief that has always been integral to his game and his progress. Little more than a week later the 18-year-old prodigy from Dunblane stepped out into the most famous tennis arena in the world to play Argentina's David Nalbandian, the 2002 Wimbledon runner-up, in a five-set third-round match that enthralled those there and millions more watching on television.

Murray lost, yet by reaching the last 32 on his grand slam debut he had outlasted both Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski. Suddenly, dramatically, he shifted the parameters of the British game. A decade of "Come on, Tim" and "Come on, Greg" had been superseded by exhortations in his name and, if they sounded several levels more frenetic, then it was because the sporting world had moved on and the demands had intensified. Enter the young hero into a personality-driven world.
Three-and-a-half months later and the cry for change reached frenzied heights when the old and the new collided for the first time, Murray drawing Henman in his opening match of the Davidoff Swiss Indoors in Basle, a title Henman won in 1998 and 2001. Discounting meetings at the now defunct British Championships, there had been nine previous so-called Battles of Britain between Henman and Rusedski since 1996, with Henman the 7-2 overall winner. Now his talent and status were on the line against Murray.

Mark Petchey, Murray's coach, knew only too well how Henman would be feeling: "I played Tim a couple of times when he was up and coming and lost twice. It was an uncomfortable experience and I felt a lot of pressure. You could see Tim was going to be a great player but, as the older and higher-ranked player, I was desperate not to lose."

Judy Murray, too, was on edge and took herself off to the hairdresser in Edinburgh that day in October. "I don't like watching Andy on television at the best of times because it's impossible to feel really involved. Anyway I knew this was going to be an extremely difficult match for him in all ways." Having her hair done offered an escape. "I knew nobody would be talking about tennis."

On the return to her car she could not resist turning on the radio. "Andy had served for the match at 5-4 in the second set and they were in the third. I thought 'Oh no' and switched off." She drove home to Dunblane, listening resolutely to music, and waited for her mobile phone to trill. The text duly came. Murray had won 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 and the British tennis world tilted on its axis.

Murray, playing only his 22nd singles match at Davis Cup, grand slam and ATP Tour level, had felled his boyhood hero. True, the 31-year-old Henman, the British No1 for virtually a decade save for the sporadic intervention of Rusedski, was at a wretchedly low ebb, having won only three matches since his second-round defeat at Wimbledon in June, and he suffered a further injury during this match. But it was the occasion that mattered rather than the context.

Murray had seized his moment, although anybody now viewing the post-match photograph of the pair heading towards the obligatory handshakes with the umpire might be forgiven for supposing the tyro had lost. Lingering slightly behind Henman, with his head bowed and his right hand running rather awkwardly along the net cord, Murray looks anything but the epitome of joy. "For Andy this victory was a huge thing," says Judy. If he didn't show it, this was simply because his respect for Henman conditioned his response to what he later described as the "biggest win of my life".

The young Scot may wear his heart on his sleeve when playing - roaring against fate, leaping and punching the air after a winning shot - yet off-court he speaks in deep, measured tones, seemingly weighing every word. So that when he said, "To win against someone I have so much respect for is a pretty good deal for me and also something that's very special emotionally", the slightly understated effect was doubly forceful, emphasising the abrupt generational shift few had seriously considered when the year began.

"It certainly all happened a lot sooner than expected," says Judy. "I suppose we were looking towards a ranking of around 150-200 by the end of this year." Remarkably Murray rose from outside the world's top 400 to No63 at his highest point, an extraordinary leap for one so young. Henman, nervous at the outset, was, understandably, inclined to see this defeat in the overall context of his career as "just another match". For almost everybody else it was the changing of the guard.

As recently as May Murray's mother had her thoughts set on him adding the junior French Open to the US Open title he had won the previous year at Flushing Meadows. "I knew it wouldn't be easy because he had only recently split with his coach, and on top of that he got food poisoning. He was struggling to find any rhythm on the clay but played really well in the quarter-finals and I thought he'd go on to win the title." Instead, in a turbulent, tetchy encounter Murray lost in the semis against Croatia's Marin Cilic.

"I felt gutted but was determined not to show it," says Judy. To her surprise her son was not in the least perturbed. "He just looked at me and said: 'Oh well, I'll be able to get back to London and practise for the grass.'" It was at that moment she realised that mentally he had moved on. A curtain had been drawn on his junior tennis. His apprenticeship was over. "What happened at Queen's and Wimbledon may not have happened if he had not gone back and got in those extra days of practice. He hit with some of the world's best players and it was there and then that he knew this was where he wanted to be."

Murray never looked back. Two wins at the Stella Artois Championships and a couple more at Wimbledon brought rich praise from his fellow professionals with Sweden's Thomas Johansson, the 2002 Australian Open champion and former world No7, predicting confidently that Murray would, without doubt, become a top-50 player: "He serves 140 miles per hour and to do that at 18 is very impressive. He is going to be really, really good."

The accolades have continued, though coupled with cautions concerning his physical fitness. This he has already addressed by visiting a specialist centre in Dijon and working out a tough preparation programme this month in South Africa, where his mother will join him for Christmas before they move on to his first tournament of the year in Adelaide.

It is not his initial successes at the majors and on the ATP Tour that have impressedJudy, who coached him before he left Scotland and joined the Sanchez Casal tennis academy in Barcelona; it is the way he reacted off court. "The most remarkable thing has been the way he has handled matters and done everything that has been asked of him," she says. "He has remained polite and level-headed and, as his mum, that has been important."

Some have marked him down as a rebel. "No, he's never been rebellious by nature," says Judy. "Stubborn, yes." And she is only too aware that there may be difficulties ahead as the pressure and expectations grow. Unlike Henman he is unlikely to bottle matters up. "There may be times when he doesn't feel like speaking to people and he will always be honest. He can be your typical grumpy teenager."

It might be argued that John McEnroe did him no favours when he suggested at this year's US Open that Murray would be in the top 20 by the same time next year and perhaps capable of breaking into the top 10. "It's very flattering," says Murray, while making no effort to play the shrinking violet. His belief is implicit that he can make it happen, if not next year, then the one after. Judy feels his best tennis will develop in two or three years but then she thought the same about his chances of playing on Centre Court. His rapid progress, it seems, is taking everyone by surprise, even his mum.

Henman has always been supportive and has admired particularly Murray's attitude and his encyclopaedic knowledge of the game. Rusedski is similarly enthusiastic. "Andy is not your average young person. He hates to lose at anything and I think with him, myself and Tim it is the same sort of mentality, even though we show it in three different ways."

The one obvious difference is that Henman and Rusedski were able to feed off each other. Murray may have to plough a lone furrow and that will inevitably increase the pressure on him. "He was thrown into the limelight during Queen's and handled it remarkably well," says Judy, "but during Wimbledon Mark [Petchey] and I decided he should do just what was expected and any other requests we would handle."

This openness, coupled with Murray's natural ability to coin a telling phrase, has already engendered a different mood from the Henman-Rusedski years and one more likely to strike a chord with a younger generation. Never in a million years would the ever so correct Tim and Greg have been regarded as cool whereas Andy, with his hooded tops and his iPod, patently is. If his victory over Henman in Switzerland was indeed the changing of the guard, then it surely also had the potential to be so much more. It was not intrinsically their fault but neither Rusedski nor Henman ever possessed the "wow" factor of Freddie Flintoff or Wayne Rooney.

Henman invariably looked tense and miserable, even when he was winning, while when Rusedski flipped his lid on Centre Court and treated BBC tea-time viewers to a torrent of choice expletives, he was metaphorically patted on the head with the whispered aside: "He's Canadian, you know."

Murray, whether it was keeling over with cramp at Queen's, throwing-up at Flushing Meadows, bitterly complaining to the umpire about a dodgy call in one of his televised exhibition matches against Rusedski in Aberdeen or hitting the most sublime of winners against the world No1 Roger Federer in the Thailand Open final, brought the drama of the sport to a new audience. He showed them brilliance, petulance and frailty. He showed he was human and that tennis could live on the edge.

Henman and Rusedski may never have won a slam but between them they have 26 titles and both have been as high as No4 in the world. It was a legacy that appeared to have fallen on stony ground until Murray emerged. These are very early days but, just as the door of the British cupboard swung open to reveal bare shelves, the Scottish teenager arrived from around the back and may - just may - offer riches beyond the capabilities of Henman and Rusedski.
http://sport.guardian.co.uk/tennis/s...673631,00.html

'He knows exactly what his opponents like the least'
Jeremy Bates
Saturday December 24, 2005
The Guardian

During my career I practised with several players just before they made their breakthrough. I can remember hitting with a young Goran Ivanisevic in Stockholm and thinking "My God, this guy is playing like some of the best in the world" - which at the time was not reflected in his ranking. And it has been the same with Andy Murray.
These days a lot of the players do not have the skills to mix up their play like we saw Andy do at Wimbledon. It's a question of doing it at the right time and, as he matures, you may see a little less of it. But he has very good tactical awareness and knows exactly what his opponents like the least. He's a bit like a modern-day Miloslav Mecir, a great guy who had the ability to make anybody look inferior with the way he massaged the ball around the court. But, unlike Andy, he did not have a huge serve or forehand and that is what makes Andy so special.

Of course, next year will be very different because the top players will know about him and be ready, while there will be many more expectations of his performance. But I know he will embrace the challenge with open arms. Of course there may be a levelling off, as that tends to happen to many rising players. Rafael Nadal broke through into the top 50 in 2003 and then dropped back a few places the next year when he also had injury problems. But this time next year I would expect Andy to be consolidated inside the top 30. From there it might take longer but his biggest quality is his single-mindedness, coupled with a dogged mentality. You can't buy that.
The thing you notice most about the exceptionally good players is the time they have to play their shots. When Tim Henman came on the scene, Greg Rusedski was pretty much established and serving exceptionally fast, as we all know. I could only hope to block returns but Tim was able to pick up the ball so quickly and, with his excellent hand-eye coordination, could take a full swing. He would also do it when the pressure was on and this is a rare quality in a player.

But I don't think that when Tim was a junior it was obvious he would do as well as he has, despite many comments to the contrary. For Tim, beating Greg to become the national champion in 1995 was the turning point and we also won the doubles together that year. What he has achieved since then is absolutely exceptional and should be acknowledged as such.

I was used to playing British players and I'd always thought it was important to put yourself on the line, so nobody could accuse you of ducking out, and by and large my record was good. So I didn't mind too much when Tim came along. It would have been better for my tennis to be No2, No3 or No4 behind a Tim Henman. Anyway I knew him very well, realised I was coming to the end of my career and tried to be realistic.

I brought Andy to Luxembourg for our Davis Cup tie in 2004 for the experience because he was one of Britain's best young players. At the time he had been injured a lot and we saw it as a bit of a boost for him.

I suppose quite a few people were taken by surprise at the quality of his play when he teamed up with Dave Sherwood for the first time in our win against Israel earlier this year but all those who had been involved with him in the Davis Cup set-up knew he could play at that level. What we couldn't be sure of was whether he could do it under pressure and his performance that day in Tel Aviv opened a lot of people's eyes.

· Jeremy Bates is the Great Britain Davis Cup captain and former British No1, who won one ATP Tour title during his playing career - in Seoul in 1994 - and enjoyed his highest world ranking of 54 in 1995.
http://sport.guardian.co.uk/tennis/s...673632,00.html
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Old 12-27-2005, 07:48 PM   #50
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Murray moves to cash in on year of success
By Mark Hodgkinson
(Filed: 24/12/2005)

Andy Murray, preparing for his first full season on the main tour next year, is understood to have opted to leave his sports management group, Octagon. The decision is immensely disappointing for the group, who signed the Scottish teenager when he was still developing on the junior circuit. They have handled his commercial and media interests ever since.

The Daily Telegraph understands that Octagon's contract with Murray is about to expire, and that the 18-year-old and his advisors have decided against renewing the deal. A source close to the negotiations said last night that the split was "without any acrimony whatsoever".

Although Murray is in a powerful position after his sudden and spectacular emergence this year - he is believed to have attracted interest from the larger companies in the sports management industry such as IMG and SFX - there is a strong possibility that he will instead join the smaller Ace Group, described on their website as a "boutique" sports management group.

Those represented by the London-based group include former men's world No 1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, former women's US Open champion Gabriela Sabatini and the 2004 men's French Open winner, Gaston Gaudio. The website also states that senior management at the group have had dealings with Roger Federer, the world No 1, and Tim Henman, British No 1.

Murray's decision could be highly significant for his commercial interests. Largely unknown outside the tennis world before Wimbledon this year, Murray is now regarded as one of Britain's most bankable sportsmen. One leading figure in the sports management industry has claimed that Murray could make as much as £60 million over the course of his career, if he is able to break into the world's top 10 and then stay around that level for a decade.

Murray already has four sponsorship deals - a clothing contract with Fred Perry, a racket deal with Head, and sponsorships with the Royal Bank of Scotland and Robinsons, the soft drinks manufacturer. The contracts will almost certainly be performance-related, with bonuses for achieving certain results and for raising his world ranking to agreed targets.

It is understood that Murray will soon launch his own website, which will allow him to promote both his career and the companies paying to be associated with his hoped-for success on the ATP Tour.

He has been doing warm-weather training in South Africa to help ready himself for his first tournament of the new season, in Adelaide, Australia, which starts in nine days.

The following week he is due to appear at an event in Auckland before competing at the Australian Open, for which he has direct entry into the main draw after breaking into the world's top 100 players this year.

www.telegraph.co.uk/hodgkinson
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"Pero para mí el mejor es Roger Federer. / For me, the best is Roger Federer." - D. Nalbandian
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Old 12-27-2005, 07:50 PM   #51
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The Times December 24, 2005
Personal touch vital as Murray changes his agents
By Neil Harman, Tennis Correspondent

FOR Andy Murray, small is obviously meaningful. The 18-year-old Scottish prodigy’s decision to up sticks from Octagon, one of the world’s three most powerful sports management companies, and move to Acegroup, a new and innovative kid on the block, is of immense significance.
The moment it became known that Murray was considering his options once his contract with Octagon expired at the end of this year, there was a rush to get to talk to a player rightly considered potential top-ten material. As The Times reported three weeks ago, Octagon feared that it might lose someone it nurtured from a raw prospect and sent Phil de Picciotto, its president of athletes and personalities, and Tom Ross, a vice-president, to London from the United States last week to attempt to dissuade him.

Murray listened to all parties, including IMG and SFX, the other two management heavyweights, and chose instead to place his future in the hands of a company based in London that prefers a lower profile and possesses a keener sense of an individual’s worth. It is believed that a meeting with Acegroup, scheduled to take an hour, lasted almost three, so entranced was the teenager with its plans for him.

The big boys will be kicking themselves, especially if the Scot extracts every bit of his promise to become one of the leading title challengers in the next five years. There was once a theory that an international operator such as IMG needed only to crook its finger and athletes would come running. Murray has shown that he is not averse to bucking trends.

At the heart of plans for Murray lies making the most of his personality as much as his performance, utilising his gift for communication with those of his own generation to spread the word that tennis in the 21st century is a powerful, athletic, dynamic sport, and that teenagers such as Rafael Nadal, the French Open champion from Spain, and Gaël Monfils, the brilliant Frenchman, can bring kids into it in their droves.

There is no shortage of companies that recognise the value of having Murray endorse their products. It is understood that one of the reasons he chose to leave Octagon was a belief that it did not drive the hardest of bargains.

Now it is Acegroup’s turn. Its twin forces are Bill Ryan, the quiet influence behind many of the deals that have underpinned Tim Henman’s status in tennis, and Patricio Apey, who has managed Gabriela Sabatini and Fernando González.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article...958400,00.html
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"Pero para mí el mejor es Roger Federer. / For me, the best is Roger Federer." - D. Nalbandian
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Old 12-27-2005, 09:41 PM   #52
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Great articles, thanks!

I can't wait to see how he does in Australia this year.
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Old 01-11-2006, 09:40 PM   #53
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Auckland Open
Frustrated Murray made to pay the price by Ancic
Eleanor Preston in Auckland
Wednesday January 11, 2006

Andy Murray's 6-3, 7-6 defeat by Mario Ancic in the second round of the Auckland Open last night was a salutary tale of missed opportunities. Murray had two set-points to level the match against the powerful Croatian, who is ranked 21st to Murray's 64th, but the 18-year-old Scot, playing only the 11th ATP Tour-level event of his career, lacked the nous to take the two set-points he had to take the match into a third set.

It took Ancic 39 minutes to wrap up the first set, doing so when Murray's final forehand of the set smashed into the bottom of the net with a fair slice of frustration behind it. The look on Murray's face when he let his serve go to give Ancic a crucial break at 2-3 was eloquent in its portrayal of the pain of missed chances.
Murray went into the match anxious to learn and one of the lessons he emerged with was the knowledge that the very best players in the world absorb pressure like a fluffy towel, yet are utterly ruthless when it comes to spotting signs of weakness in others. Thus Ancic held firm at times when Murray attempted to become more aggressive, taking the winners hit past him with equanimity before doing just enough to win his service games. When Murray's own serving became sloppy, he wasted no time in breaking to 15 to give himself a 4-2 lead and go on to the set.

Murray dropped his serve again at the start of the second, perhaps because of his lingering annoyance at how the first set had played itself out, and was irritated to the point of screaming out loud when he missed a chance to get back on level terms at 1-2 down, when Ancic saved six break-points to hang on to the advantage.

When the Scot did eventually break to level at 3-3, it appeared at first to bring the momentum his way, an impression which was strengthened when Murray broke again to lead 4-3 when Ancic's serve finally buckled under the strain.

With more experience and age "and more matches at this level" he will probably learn how to serve out sets against accomplished players but there is clearly still some work to do, judging by the two ugly errors he put in on the two set-points he had in the long and ultimately fruitless game he played to serve to level the match at 5-3 in the second set.

Instead he found himself in the tiebreaker, when Ancic again proved the more secure, winning 7-4.

Tim Henman has played only two matches this year but has chosen not to play this week, despite insisting that there are no current problems with his chronically bad back. His chances of being seeded for next week's Australian Open have been boosted over the last few days by the withdrawal of Marat Safin with knee trouble. Henman is ranked only 36th in the world, he now only needs one more player ranked higher than him to withdraw before the event starts on Monday in order to be seeded in the top 32.

http://sport.guardian.co.uk/tennis/s...683839,00.html
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Old 01-11-2006, 09:44 PM   #54
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Murray fighting his own expectations
By Mark Hodgkinson
(Filed: 10/01/2006)

So over-eager has Andy Murray been to rediscover his form of last year that, after yesterday's opening-round victory in Auckland, he conceded he has been forcing his tennis in the early stages of the season. The Scottish teenager would much prefer it if he could be a little less fraught, and a little more relaxed, on court.

Pumped-up: Andy Murray has been guilty of trying too hard
Murray may have defeated Denmark's Kenneth Carlsen 7-5, 6-2, but it was an indifferent showing. He said that his problems were partly caused by having expected too much of himself, and subsequently - when a few shots went wide or long - he became overly-critical.

He said that he was hoping to demonstrate a more composed and measured approach during tomorrow's meeting with the Croatian, Mario Ancic, a former Wimbledon semi-finalist.

"I want to play like I was at the end of last year. With the things that I have worked on during the off-season, my tennis should be better so I am putting a bit of extra pressure on myself. The best thing to do is to relax and try to play myself into my matches instead of trying to play so well right at the beginning," said Murray, the world No 62.

"I need to stop putting so much pressure on myself because I then go out and make a few mistakes and get a bit down on myself. If I go out and I expect not to play so well at the start, I'm sure that I'll play better throughout the match," he said.

Murray, a natural competitor, has been working hard on learning how to carry himself during matches, and has recognised that he has been wasting his emotional energies by excessive celebrations, or by fiercely admonishing himself after a couple of errors or missed chances.

The outrageous leaps into the air, the pumps of the fist, and the self-critiques are more infrequent now than when he first appeared on the main tour last season. The trick will be for Murray to become more relaxed without losing his edge and his thrusting nature.

Murray's defeat of the 32-year-old Carlsen, in a game played with a strong wind rushing through the hard court and in a frequently blinding sun, will primarily be remembered for his efforts to charm the Auckland crowd, which contained a significant number of Scots.

When Carlsen called the trainer on court for treatment to an ankle injury in the second set, Murray was caught mid-service game and he decided to spend the interruption juggling a tennis ball with the frame of his racket, his feet, and his head. "I was just keeping myself warm and I was showing off a bit. Normally when I try it in front of people, I don't get it right," Murray said of his 'keepy-uppy' skills.

During a post-match interview on the court, Murray blithely remarked that he and his opponent had "played like women" during the opening set, when there had been multiple breaks of serve, and a few spectators gently booed him for his comment.

He was slightly taken aback and later reddened with embarrassment, but the crowd appreciated that it was a joke, and the incident was entirely light-hearted and good-natured, with the boos of the pantomime variety.

Murray said he would have to read Ancic's serve to win their first tour meeting. "Ancic is always going to be difficult because he serves so well," he said.

www.telegraph.co.uk/hodgkinson

10 January 2006: Murray braced for difficult year

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/mai...11/ixtenn.html
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"Pero para mí el mejor es Roger Federer. / For me, the best is Roger Federer." - D. Nalbandian
"He's the best sportsman, I think, in the world. He has a lot of humble." - Rafael Nadal
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Old 01-15-2006, 07:11 PM   #55
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15 January 2006 14:10 Home > Sport > Tennis
Chela the chill wind of reality for Murray
Awkward Argentinian promises a test of Scot's temperament as well as his talent

By Ronald Atkin, Tennis Correspondent
Published: 15 January 2006

Andrew Murray prepares for the Australian Open

Having recently celebrated one British ceremony, the changing of the guard, British tennis prepares to indulge in another, the charge of the light brigade, when the Australian Open gets under way tomorrow.

The charge will be light in numbers, rather than ability or commitment, consisting as it does of just Tim Henman and Andy Murray, Greg Rusedski having opted to await imminent parenthood in London.

Henman will be competing in the year's first Grand Slam for the ninth time, having fought his way into the fourth round on three occasions, and his customary phlegm will have been ruffled by the sight of Dmitry Tursunov's name emerging alongside his in the draw.

The US-based Russian was a key component in Henman's horrible 2005, imposing on the British No 1 his worst Wimbledon for 10 years by eliminating him in the second round. To complete a season in which Henman admits he began to question his involvement in the sport, he was beaten by Murray in the much-hyped "Battle of the Brits" in Basle last October, enough for many to announce that change of guard.

Having announced his eagerness to get to grips with the game's giants by attaining a ranking high enough to guarantee automatic entry into the top tournaments, Murray has had his wish granted. The teenaged Scot's first opponent, Juan Ignacio Chela, may be a giant only in terms of stature but he is one of those pesky Argentinians who specialise in wrecking the ambitions of anyone who happens to stray into their path. In the past, Henman and Rusedski have suffered Chela's tennis version of water-drip torture, allied to histrionics and gamesmanship, so this will provide an excellent test, not only of Murray's burgeoning skills but also of his nerve and temper.

Getting past Chela would merely expose Murray to the hairdryer blast of the third-seeded Lleyton Hewitt, whereas success for Henman could open the door in an easy quarter, but let's not get carried away here. One Brit in the second round, never mind the second week, would be good news.

Rusedski is not the only absentee, though the big three to fall by the wayside - the defending champion, Marat Safin, the French Open title holder, Rafael Nadal, and the ageless Andre Agassi, four times champion here - are sidelined by injury rather than choice. Clearly, the tournament is diminished by their absence, reducing as it does the number of realistic challengers to Roger Federer. The Swiss wonder man has been at it already in 2006, winning his first tournament of the season in Qatar and pushing closer to two years in residence as world No 1.

However, extra anguish for the injured trio is that Federer has been reduced to a level slightly below his best by ankle damage which has not, despite assurances to the contrary, fully mended. This small item of good news for all who labour in Federer's impressive wake should have provided extra cheer for Hewitt, only for the feisty Aussie to be socked in the eye once more by finishing in Federer's half of the draw. Last year Hewitt was beaten in the Australian final by Safin; in fact the last seven Grand Slams have seen Hewitt lose, at one stage or another, to the eventual champion, a sequence that he will be keen to terminate.

The arrival of the first home-grown Australian champion for 30 years (Mark Edmondson in 1976, since you ask) would be a clear occasion for acclaim, but Hewitt himself is struggling to hit form following a year embracing the distractions of marriage and parenthood.

So the projected Federer-Hewitt semi-final might not come to pass, though it would need a mighty upset to spoil those seedings. However, in Federer's quarter lurks an eminent seed-slayer in Germany's Tommy Haas, who beat the world No 1 in an exhibition event last week. Haas provides a rebuttal of the Samson legend in that his career has flourished since he lopped off his ponytail. There are, of course, other factors, such as complete recovery from a lengthy shoulder injury, and Haas might just derail the Federer Express.

In the other half of the draw Andy Roddick will be happy with his lot, allowing other people to have a pop at Federer until it should be his turn in the final. Possible disruption to that script could be provided by Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic, who is in robust fettle and still on a high since winning the Davis Cup for his country in December. He is scheduled to face Roddick in the semi-finals. Even so, the gentlemen who lay odds are not prepared to offer any against Federer. He has won the last two Grand Slams, and a kickstart to the new season is what he seeks.

And Murray, who ran him so close in the final of the Thailand Open three months ago, will be watching with interest.

http://sport.independent.co.uk/tennis/article338649.ece
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Old 01-15-2006, 07:13 PM   #56
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Murray on collision course with Henman's nemesis
By Clive White
(Filed: 15/01/2006)

Andy Murray may have been refused admission to the Kooyong Classic, the traditional precursor to the Australian Open, until he showed his ID, but the whole of Australia may know soon enough who he is if he beats their very own Lleyton Hewitt this week.

The prodigiously talented young Scot claimed yesterday to be unaware of the fact that he could meet the No 3 seed and former Wimbledon and US Open champion in the second round and yet had predicted to his coach he would draw the Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela in the opening round. "I told Mark [Petchey, his coach] I thought I was going to play against one of the Argentinians," said Murray. "I told him I was going to play Chela."

Clairvoyant he may be, but he obviously doesn't believe in looking too far into his crystal ball. If he did, he might like what he saw. If there was ever a time to play Hewitt it is right now. Last year's runner-up to Marat Safin hasn't played in more than three months due to the birth of his baby daughter and had a virus when he returned to competitive action last week in his home town of Adelaide, looking nothing like his usual combative self. What a feather in his cap it would be if Murray could beat Tim Henman's nemesis. But first things first.

Chela, ranked 16 places higher than Murray at 46, will be an awkward opponent, never mind the fact that he has lost in the opening round in five of his last six tournaments. "I watched him play Tim in Cincinnati [where he beat Henman]," said Murray. "He's got a good forehand and doesn't make many mistakes off his backhand. His serve's probably not his strongest part. All the South Americans are consistent from the ground with big forehands. I'll try to keep it away from his forehand."

Being a committed baseliner, Chela won't give him a target to aim at and Murray is unlikely to put into practice all of the things he has been working on with Petchey, like coming to the net more often. Murray said he may have a chat today with Henman about Chela, who has won their last two encounters.

Henman professes to be relieved that he now has someone else to help him shoulder the burden of British expectation, but he will be deeply envious of the young apprentice if on Tuesday evening he steps out into the spotlight of the Rod Laver Arena and defeats the man who has beaten Henman eight times out of eight. Not a few experts give Murray a Braveheart's chance of doing just that.

If he had the choice, Hewitt would probably prefer to meet Chela, who he defeated here in the third round last year in a match notable for a spitting incident for which the Argentine was fined.

The 18-year-old Murray warned him against that kind of Argybargy. "It fires me up more if somebody's like that on the court," he said. "If he is, it's probably not the best thing for him to do."

The young man from Dunblane is maturing fast and he seems to have settled into the build-up to this Grand Slam, the first in which he has gained admission to the main draw as of right, like an old campaigner. After narrow defeats to contemporaries Tomas Berdych and Mario Ancic in Adelaide and Auckland, he looked good in an exhibition match against Austria's Peter Luczak at Kooyong on Friday.

The non-believers will be watching particularly closely as to how the pale-skinned Scot handles the debilitating Australian heat and how he has overcome the cramps which curtailed his otherwise mightily impressive first showings at Wimbledon and the US Open. "I've worked really hard to get in good shape for when I came over here," he said. "My tennis hasn't been as good as what I wanted it to be when I first got over here, but I've been playing better in practice. Hopefully, come Tuesday, I'll be playing my best tennis."

Since his preferred surface is a slow hard court, the Rebound Ace, while unforgiving for those with physical issues, should suit him perfectly. "It's a bit different to normal hard courts," he said. "It [the ball] comes - it doesn't absorb the pace. It gives it a little bit extra. The kick-serve jumps up pretty high. I think you have to be aggressive on this court."

A little circumspection would not go amiss at this stage of Murray's career, not so much from him but from his growing band of supporters. Murray knows that his progress cannot continue at last year's breakneck pace, when he rose 349 places in the rankings in the space of seven months.

As he said: "Not every 18-year-old is Rafael Nadal. You know, Federer, it took him three years before he won a match at Wimbledon, and now he's pretty much unbeatable there. I'm looking to have a good career when I'm older, when I'm 22, 23 not just winning matches now."

Unfortunately, if he beats Hewitt, expectation could reach heights not even Henman has known.

www.telegraph.co.uk/cwhite
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Old 01-16-2006, 05:43 PM   #57
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The Times January 16, 2006
Murray remains serious about his long-term future
From Neil Harman, Tennis Correspondent, in Melbourne

“HE’S Yahoo Serious,” an Australian journalist, who had never set eyes on Andy Murray before yesterday, exclaimed, likening the young Scot — the facial expression, fierce mop of red-brown curls, slightly off-the-wall air — to the Australian actor who landed on the front page of Time magazine in celebration of his cinematic portrayal of Young Einstein.

It does not take an Einstein, young or otherwise, to work out that Murray is one match from becoming a genuine focal point of the opening grand-slam championship of the year, a situation he relished the first time at Wimbledon last summer, taking David Nalbandian, of Argentina, to five sets on Centre Court, and his second, dispatching his prevous night’s dinner on the Grandstand Court while defeating Andrei Pavel, of Romania, in the first round of the US Open.

Here, it would be facing Lleyton Hewitt, the Australian anti-hero, although for Mark Petchey, Murray’s coach, getting one game ahead of the game is a dangerous proposition. Nonetheless, when Murray steps out to face Juan Ignacio Chela, of Argentina, tomorrow — a match the 18-year-old should lose but has the talent to win — the prospect of an evening date on Rod Laver Arena against Hewitt in the second round looms irresistibly large.

But Petchey is right. The statistics bear him out to an extraordinary degree: of the ten players who have finished the year with Murray’s ranking of 64 in the past decade, only two reached the top 50 and of those, Byron Black, of Zimbabwe, has retired and Karol Beck, of Slovakia, has a greatest claim to fame that he defeated Tim Henman in the Stella Artois Championships at Queen’s Club in 2004, after winning the LTA Surbiton Challenger, but still finished the year ranked No 45.

Of those who did not immediately live up to their reputation, Fernando Meligeni, of Brazil, who reached No 64 at the end of 1995 but fell to No 93 a year later, turned his career around, reaching the semi-finals of the French Open in 1999. A lot can come to he who waits.

It is a salutary moment for those predicting that Murray is about to waltz to every title under the sun and cover every event he plays as if the outcome is life and death. Henman was barely a blot on the landscape at 18, a skinny lad of little consequence who was said to be a decent doubles prospect. Murray is much more than that — although he has declined a plea from James Auckland, his compatriot, to play doubles in the main draw here — and both he and those around him know it.

Hence the fact that he was left alone after practice with Henman yesterday, a light-hearted affair that went a long way to confirming how much the pair enjoy each other’s company, and it was Petchey who preferred to answer the pertinent questions. “Andy is going to have to find his best tennis to come through against Chela,” he said. “It is going to be bloody tough.

There are still people who question his fitness, but you can’t expect him to become like Rafael Nadal, who is a different muscle type — that is a totally unfair comparison. It is only May last year that he was a junior, we should remember that. He will be analysed every week in public, but it will take him time to find his way. I am looking at the next few years, not the next two weeks.”

Hewitt does not have such a luxury. The demands of the Australian public are as non- negotiable on Hewitt, who will be 25 next month, as those ever placed on Henman and, terrifyingly, in the future, on Murray by the British. But for him to match last year, when he reached the final here, would be astonishing. He remains desperately unhappy with the Rebound Ace surface, claiming that it resembles more the clay of the French Open than what is supposed to be a hard court.

None of these shenanigans, however, fazes Roger Federer, who remains a short-priced certainty. “I enjoy being the big favourite, not just the favourite, but the big one,” he said. “I always said, I prefer to be the favourite because the contender needs to do their work and this is where the favourite, he can see what the other guys do. I have to make sure I win my matches, but mentally I’m that tough that I don’t have a problem with that.

We cannot underestimate because we all know guys ranked outside of the top 150, 200, who are dangerous opponents. I beat [Carlos] Moyà when I was No 300 and he was No 4. Everything is possible. You don’t know how to win a slam [for the first time] — you have got to create a way to do it, to keep a great intensity level up for a long time.”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article...987709,00.html
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Old 02-19-2006, 11:15 PM   #58
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The Times February 16, 2006
Murray prepared for second-year growing pains
From Simon Cambers in San Jose, California

WHEN Andy Murray climbed 449 places in 12 months to end last year as the world No 64, many observers, including John McEnroe, the former world No 1, felt it was only a matter of time before the Scot reached the world’s top 20.
McEnroe suggested that it could even come before Wimbledon and with almost no ranking points to defend before the Stella Artois Championships, at Queen’s Club, West London, in June, it is by no means impossible. But life at the sharp end of the tennis world is cut-throat and Murray is finding it tougher at the top.

A first-round defeat at the Australian Open last month suggested that expectations, elevated after he reached his first ATP Tour final, in Bangkok, in September, were weighing on his young shoulders. But any additional pressure he may have been feeling was not in evidence as he crushed Mardy Fish, of the United States, 6-2, 6-2 in the first round of the SAP Open here.

“I know this year is going to be more difficult,” Murray said. “I know a lot of people think that once you get into the top 100, that’s the hard part done and that it’s easy to move up. But it’s not. It gets even harder because you’re playing against the top guys every week.”

The history of the tour is littered with players who break through one year only to slide back down the rankings as they are unable to match their achievements the next year. Players they beat the first time learn quickly from mistakes.

“I don’t think they [the players] are gunning for me or anything, but I just think they know your game a bit better and know how to play against you a bit better,” Murray said. “But if I play like I did [against Fish], I think things will go in the right direction.”

Murray’s path here was made easier, in theory at least, when James Blake, the No 5 seed from the US, lost 6-3, 7-5 to Wang Yeu-Tzuoo, the world No 88 from Taiwan, on Tuesday night. Murray, the world No 60, will expect to beat Wang today to claim a quarter-final place and the Scot, back in the part of the world where he stormed up the rankings last summer, is enjoying being out of the spotlight.

“It’s much more relaxed here,” he said. “It’s a little easier to concentrate on tennis. The questions are a bit easier — they’re only usually about tennis. At home, even the smallest thing you say is picked up on.”

After his defeat by Juan Ignacio Chela, of Argentina, in the Australian Open, Murray criticised the British press for putting too much expectation on him. But after speaking to Tim Henman, the British No 1, who knows a bit about deal- ing with the media, Murray appeared much more content.

“It’s difficult because I am not sure he [Henman] has always come across the way he would have liked to, but he has helped me,” Murray said. “I just try not to say anything too controversial.

“I had a few really good conversations with Tim and my coach [Mark Petchey] after I came back from Zagreb [where he lost in the first round to Ivan Ljubicic, the No 1 seed],” he said. “He helped me with a few things and speaking to him gives me quite a bit of confidence because I think he believes in me and that’s great.”

Murray also had an interesting take on the discussion as to whether the length of the Tour is contributing to an increase in injuries among the players.

Henman withdrew from the tournament in Marseilles this week and Andre Agassi pulled out of the one here, but this week is the first of five consecutive events for Murray.

“I don’t think the schedule is too long,” he said. “Why not play just 15 events instead of playing 22 and saying you’re tired at the end of the 22nd one? Maybe the Masters Series events should not be back to back, especially at the end of the year [in Madrid and Paris], but that’s about it.”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article...042512,00.html
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"Pero para mí el mejor es Roger Federer. / For me, the best is Roger Federer." - D. Nalbandian
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Old 02-19-2006, 11:16 PM   #59
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Murray on course for world elite
By Robert Smith
(Filed: 19/02/2006)

Andy Murray is beginning to reap the benefit of a tough coaching regime, according to American great John McEnroe, who believes that the Scot will soon usurp Tim Henman as Britain's No 1.

McEnroe watched Murray reach the semi-finals of the SAP Open in San Jose yesterday - he beat the Swede Robin Soderling and his own outbursts of temper in a fractious three-setter - and reckons that he is learning from every match. Murray's reward was a semi-final against the sharp-serving top seed, Andy Roddick.

"Mentally he has proven to be a pretty tough customer and his body has grown as well recently," said McEnroe. "He doesn't seem to need a whole lot of help. Mark Petchey is doing a great job but Andy believes in himself and his attitude is something that I like. He plays hard, he shows a lot of emotion and he's a breath of fresh air. The type of player we need on the circuit."

McEnroe says "the sky is the limit" for Murray, who is still only 18. "A lot of the time there is hype and people talking about players when deep down they know it's not going to happen, but this time you have a guy who is really capable of being a great player.

"He has a way of keeping you off balance, he has a feel for the game and he's playing with the most confidence he has ever had."

Murray's world ranking - 60 at the start of the week - should improve significantly, another indicator, in McEnroe's eyes, that he is ready to assume the mantle of Henman and Greg Rusedski, both now in their thirties.

"Is there a changing of the guard in British tennis? I think there is," said McEnroe. "I predicted a few months ago that Murray would be in the top 20 around Wimbledon and I think there is an excellent chance of that happening. You see a guy like Murray and you see the potential that is there."

Murray had to overcome the big-serving Soderling and his own temper to advance with a 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory. He threw his racket four times and was given a code violation after appearing to swear at chair umpire Norm Chryst after losing the first set.

"I was trying to get myself going because I started the match so sloppy," Murray said. "It obviously worked. I was a little frustrated at the four or five bad calls on big points."

After losing the first set and falling behind in the second, Murray broke back from 1-3 with a sublime forehand crosscourt winner. Both players agreed that shot turned the match.

"I was the better player for almost two sets, but after that point, he didn't miss many first serves and he wasn't missing much of anything," Soderling said. "You have to hit winners against him all the time."

After Murray hit a simple reflex volley winner in the sixth game of the third set, Soderling approached Chryst to complain about Murray's behaviour.

"He was talking before the point was over a lot," Soderling said. "I asked the chair umpire if he could do that and he said, 'Yeah.' " Murray retorted: "You don't want to be unpopular on tour, but when you are on court you have to do what you have to do to win."

Roddick crushed German Bjorn Phau 6-3, 6-2, while Lleyton Hewitt also reached the last four with a 7-6, 6-2 win over fellow Australian Wayne Arthurs.

"My first percentage was up where I wanted it to be," said Roddick, "and it totally changed the dynamic of the match." He won 94 per cent of his first-serve points. "It might make people think about it a little more on their own service games. Early in the week I felt I was hitting clean but the ball was not going the way I wanted it to, so tonight it felt good."

McEnroe and doubles partner Jonas Bjorkman, playing together in the SAP Open on a one-off basis to bring attention to the ATP's Doubles Revolution campaign, beat Ashley Fisher and Tripp Phillips 6-1, 7-5.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/mai...19/ixtenn.html
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"Pero para mí el mejor es Roger Federer. / For me, the best is Roger Federer." - D. Nalbandian
"He's the best sportsman, I think, in the world. He has a lot of humble." - Rafael Nadal
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Old 02-19-2006, 11:17 PM   #60
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SAP Open
Murray strings it together with hard graft
Steve Bierley
Saturday February 18, 2006
The Guardian

Andy Murray completed his first back-to-back victories of the season when he beat Yeu-Tzuoo Wang of Taipei 6-4, 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals of the SAP Open in San Jose. After a diffident start to the year it was an important win.
The 18-year-old Scot first demonstrated his potential on American hard courts when he won the junior title at the US Open in New York in 2004 and he had to work exceptionally hard for his victory.

"I think that in the first set they were some of the toughest games I've played and I actually burnt a hole through my insoles because I was running so much," said Murray, who lost the first three games of the match.
"I'm really happy to come through with a win because I didn't feel like I served very well and I was under a lot of pressure in my service games. I held it together pretty well."

The pivotal moment came when he was serving at 4-3 down and held on to level. "I think I kind of knocked the stuffing out of him a little bit because I really went for it the next game. I was still out of breath from the 4-3 game, so I had to take some risks."

Meanwhile Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus has been granted a 12-year exemption from compulsory military service. The 20-year-old, who reached the final of this year's Australian Open in Melbourne where he took a set off the world No1 Roger Federer before losing in four sets, had previously been allowed limited postponements from military duty while he pursued his tennis career.
http://sport.guardian.co.uk/tennis/s...712484,00.html
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"Pero para mí el mejor es Roger Federer. / For me, the best is Roger Federer." - D. Nalbandian
"He's the best sportsman, I think, in the world. He has a lot of humble." - Rafael Nadal
"He's so charismatic." - Marcos Baghdatis
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