Thursday, 19 January 2017

No fuss Murray

Top seed and world number one - still not used to saying that - Andy Murray, was on display at night on Rod Laver Arena for his second round match at the 2017 Aus Open, and his opponent a 19 year old Russian playing his first AO, Andrey Rublev.
Rublev had beaten Yen-Hsun Lu in four sets to reach the Murray challenge, while Andy had taken a bit longer than anticipated to shake off Illya Marchenko, but still in straight sets.

Andrey won the first point of the match on Murray's serve which will remain a highlight, but inevitably the Scot threw in an ace and a perfect volley to easily hold.
One thing was certain after two games - Rublev hits the ball hard, and he didn't hold back in his first service game, trading punches with the top seed, and winning the exchanges to take it to love. 1-1.

Serves were held again for 2-2, Murray doing what is normal for him, setting up points for easy volley winners or simply just blasting ground shots for which no adequate reply is possible.  Rublev was handling this pressure surprisingly well, and only in the sixth game did he begin to fall victim on the scoreboard to what the Murray racquet can deliver.  Two break points were created due to Scottish winners and better placement.  Only one was required and the Murray lead stretched to 4-2.

Taken to 30-30, Andy clarified things with an ace and motored on to 5-2, before sitting out the next game while Andrey built up his points score by 4.
When Andy returned to serve for the set he was not happy to see winners from Rublev take the score to 30-30 for another time.  So just to emphasise his point about who was in charge he served another ace.
The set was ultimately Murray's 6-3.

Set two was, to be generous, somewhat less competitive.
Rublev served first and soon was facing two break points - the double fault didn't assist him.  Murray converted with a winning volley.
For the third straight service game, an ace at 30-30 and the game to the top seed for 2-0.
Andrey had 40-30 in the third game and 40-0 in the fifth, but lost both those serves, so what could have been never was and instead became 5-0 for Murray and he served for a two set lead.

Andy wasted two set points, the second with a double fault, before tidying things up and winning the set 6-0, a slightly unfair representation of the gulf between the two players.

Set three was possibly a better indication on the scoreboard of how Rublev was travelling in this match.
At 1-1 and serving, he saved one break point with a winner, but double faulted on the second, and Murray had what he needed.
A swift consolidation, the serve working beautifully, was followed with another break of the Rublev serve, this mostly self initiated.
4-1 and back to the hotel soon for Andy, perhaps the airport for Andrey.

Rublev did hold his final serve for the match, and also took Murray to deuce when the top seed served for it, but nothing would prevent Andy Murray from successfully winning a third round berth 6-3 6-0 6-2. Not even a sore ankle, the result of a fall which sent a scare through the tennis world, fearing possibly worse damage. 

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