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Andy Murray


There has been some debate over whether Andy Murray has the match fitness to go big and go home at this Australian Open, or whether it has simply come too soon. The Wimbledon champ is the type who likes to come into tournaments on a run, confident in his ability, his tactics, his thoughts, knowing that he can reach for the right shots at the right time, change plans when he needs to, and raise the intensity when called for.

His first-round match against Go Soeda blew that one out of the water. His second-round match against Vincent Millot, not so much. But as Murray rightly said "I wasn't expecting to play perfect tennis and play great straight away.

"I played well in my first match; today, not so well. That's what it's going to be like for me now. I'm going to have ups and downs. I've just got to get through them and the consistency will come."

Millot is a stocky competitor, ranked 287 in the world, who went for his shots, trying to nip away like a gnat at Murray's rhythm, make him move in the humid conditions of Rod Laver Arena, and generally be just as annoying as journeyman, if he will forgive the term, can be.

But it didn't seem to bother Murray for the first two sets, the quality of the Briton's shots too much for his French counterpart. Yes, he broke first and got broken back, but that was it for the first set, Murray winning the short, medium and long rallies eight times out of 10 to go two breaks up after 11 minutes. Two more breaks in the second, after several break points, were all he needed, many more first serves in, a few more winners, and no break points faced.

It all ground to a halt in the third. Millot, all 173cm of him, suddenly started standing tall, feeding off the crowd rather than shrinking from it, and thinking, "go for broke”. It worked.

"Out of nowhere he started playing unbelievable. Then sometimes, you know, you need to remind yourself that it's going to be hard for him to keep that up. It's low-percentage tennis," Murray said.

"He hasn't done it for a long period before, so that's what I was trying to remind myself when I was 5-1 down. If I can just hang in, you know, and sort of weather the storm a little bit, I might be able to come back."

Murray, perhaps startled by the 27-year-old's sudden about-turn, admitted that he took too long to react, and suddenly found himself trailing 1-5.

"I needed to raise my intensity a little bit. I didn't really respond as quick as I would have liked to him playing that well.

"And then once I got that break back and then the crowd started to get into it, then I raised my intensity a bit. I focused more. Obviously managed to turn it around at that point."

Better do something about it, he supposed. So, set point down, he clicked in, locked down, and reeled off an astonishing 23 points in a row to take the next six games, the set, and the match.

"I didn't really care about winning 23 points in a row," Murray said, admitting that he'd had no idea until someone shouted out that he was on 19.

"I wanted to win the match. I'm glad I finished it there, because very, very hard conditions."

Next up for a place in the fourth round is old friend and foe, Feliciano Lopez.

"That will, again, be another good test for me and naturally get tougher," Murray said.

"I feel much better than I did two weeks ago, and every day hopefully I'll feel better and better. My body's not in a lot of pain right now. I'm not stiff and sore, which is a good sign. And then hopefully I wake up and feel fine again tomorrow."

We hope so too.

Rod Laver Arena - Men's Singles - Round 2
A.Murray GBR (4)
V.Millot FRA 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014
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