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Scotsman in round three far from flying

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Written by : published Thursday 5th May 2011

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Andy Murray yesterday made it to round three of the Mutua Madrid Masters by overcoming a stubborn opponent in Giles Simon on the clay.

The Scotsman was far from convincing against an opponent ranked 20th in the world, in a game where error and frustration ruled.

The 6-4, 3-6, 6-0 score line was flattering to Murray, especially the final set, where Simon had numerous chances to break the world number four.

 Murray answered with some strong Scottish resistance to save a number of break points, including three in fifth game of the third set to go 5-0 up.

Yet, for all the awkwardness Murray displayed on a seemingly foreign surface, he did show glimpses of why he is the fourth best player on the planet.

Even when off-balance, he produced some sumptuous tennis. Early in the first set, when looking at unease with the ralley, he powered an impressive back-hand pass down the line, cavorting into the advertising hoarding.

After further unforced errors, mainly due to poor footwork, Murray again spurred into life, this time to set up taking the first set.

A world class lob sent Simon deep, from where he could only tee up the ball for an advancing Murray who, in gladiatorial fashion, rose up to emphatically smash home.

Simon, however, had sensed early that Murray felt uneasy and so opened his usually defensive game into a more offensive one.

A style unnatural for the Frenchman, it saw his error count rise too, hitting three long balls in quick succession to spur an outburst of frustration as Murray claimed the first set.

Simon proved his stubbornness in the next by taking the set 3-6. After saving a break against his name in the fifth game, he himself broke Murray’s serve and subsequently served out the set with ease to level the match.

Murray broke early in the deciding set, thanks to yet another ball hit long by Simon, to take an early 2-0 lead.

The third game of the set brought out the best in both players.

After more frustrated cries from an attacking Simon, he took the game to deuce with a powerful forearm return that would have troubled Murray even if he had positioned correctly.

As the number of deuce points rose, it looked as if neither player wanted to take the game until, to follow the overtone of the match, a Simon error granted Murray a 3-0 lead.

Even upon breaking his serve again to go 4-0 up, Murray could not come to terms with footwork on his nemesis surface, prompting an expletive-ridden outburst and an on-air apology from Sky Sport’s commentary team.

By the fifth game, Simon had reverted back to his more natural, in-his-shell, wait, strike-out style to earn him three break points.

Murray quelled each point and more for a 5-0 lead to all but end the match.

Murray broke in the final game, with his third racket of the match. The match, ironically, ending with Simon surrendering another point from another unforced error.

Murray can be happy with the way he battled, though he can’t give the opportunities he did to his opponent today, to someone of a higher calibre.

A worrying fact for the man, who now face Thomas Belluci in round three, is that the comparatively lowly-ranked opponent he beat, in the end, convincingly, looked far more natural on the clay.

Murray has to make peace with the surface. Quickly.

About the author Joe Smith

Joe Smith

My name is Joe Smith and I currently attend the University of Huddersfield in Yorkshire, England. I am in the first year of a Sports Journalism BA Hons degree with a view to becoming a professional sports journalist at a national newspaper. I help with the running of Caistor Town Cricket Club's website and also contribute to WriteAngleMedia, a company associated with various midalnds-based newspapers, reporting on semi-professional (non-league) football matches. My top three sports are cricket, football and tennis, closely followed by rugby league. I follow many sports teams, but  my favoured clubs are: Grimsby Town (football/soccer), Lancashire County Cricket Club and Huddersfield Giants (rugby league).

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