Saturday, 19 January 2013

Andy battles Berankis and the wind

Final day match on the first Saturday on Rod Laver Arena starred the men's number three Andy Murray with his co-star Ricardas Berankis from Lithuania.  Now I cannot recall many Aus Open matches on this court featuring players from Lithuania so this could be something for the history books.  Not Ricardas winning for history.  That we should consider fantasy for the time being.

He had done rather well as 110 ranked singles player to reach this far in the tournament having smashed 25th seed Florian Mayer in straight sets in the previous round.  Andy Murray presented a far taller order though and the Scot's progress to this juncture had been impressive by any standard.

Andy decided early to place his stamp on the contest with his first destruction of the Berankis serve.  While the repair crew made its way to Melbourne Park, Andy contented himself by comfortably winning four points off his own serve to ease away to a 3-0 position of strength.
Having done a quick fix on the damaged Lithuanian serve, the crew moved off court and allowed Berankis to test it out and to all our delight it worked, and he trailed 1-3.  He even built up the confidence to have a go at the Murray serve, but Andy was awake to the tactic and able to save 4 break points, the last with a booming ace, not in the Serena league for pace but swift enough.

Andy was belting some big ground strokes as he is bound to do, and a couple of these undid the repair work on the Berankis serve in the sixth game, leaving Ricardas helpless with just one game to his name and literally a handful to his opponent.

Andy served for the set and made a meal of it, giving all the Lithuanian fans hope.  Ricardas added to the possibility with a strong statement on serve and Andy again struggled to serve the set out.  This time he successfully manufactured an escape route out of the danger and won the set 6-3.

Ricardas actually began to dominate in the second set and with his early racquet work was putting a lot of speed into the shots hitting Murray's racquet, or indeed passing Murray and his equipment.  The combination of the Berankis winning ground strokes and Murray's less attacking stretch of tennis, led to a break of serve to Lithuania and a 4-2 lead.

The euphoria surrounding this turnaround in fortune lasted a couple of minutes until Andy decided to place a curfew on Lithuanian enjoyment, breaking in response for 3-4 then eventually rolling over the top completely for a 6-4 set win.

What would be the final set began with Berankis serving and the tennis was pretty good considering the tricky wind and the fact that they had been at it for two sets.  Plenty of winners and not a lot of mistakes.  Enough errors though for Ricardas to fall behind a break of serve in the third game.  This came as a great tonic for Murray who wanted anything but to have to play more than three sets.
Service games came and went, each time to the server until Andy led 5-4 and could serve for a fourth round spot.

Ricardas, joker that he is, kept Andy out there a little longer by breaking him, though much of the vandalism was self inflicted via poor serving and lack of concentration.
No such loss of focus in the next game when Andy struck back hard, and in his second attempt at icing the match the serve was switched on and the forehand timed to perfection providing us with the straight sets win expected 6-3 6-4 7-5.

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