Andy Murray  v Andrey Kuznetsov – H2H: Murray leads 2-0
In the two weeks since Andy Murray was bounced unceremoniously out of Rome in his opening round, there has been many column inches written about the return of Ivan Lendl, and struggling with his motivation.
Now it is time to put illness, speculation about his drive to succeed behind him, and start his campaign. On paper – this is winnable, but Kuznetsov has managed to take a set of Murray in their first encounter, when they played in the third round of the US Open in 2014.
The Russian is an aggressive baseliner which probably helps him on this surface, and he will look to burn Murray with his two-handed backhand that whips along very fast especially cross court.
Then again he can be quite weak on his forehand and a Murray in full flow should find a way past the Russian, but as we have seen particularly with his loss to Borna Coric in Madrid and then to Fabio Fognini in Rome, while he recognises things were not going well, like his movement for one, he seemed powerless to arrest the slump.
Talking in his pre-tournament press-conference, he said: “The intensity is a bit different in the matches. You know, generally I move better in matches than I do in practice. So that’s normally how I feel. I feel like I’m a little bit sharper in matches. I hope that’s the case when the tournament starts.
“The last few months have not been good, obviously. You know, I haven’t played well. I had a few issues, as well. Yeah, I need to accept that I’m struggling and then find a way to get through it.”
He continued, on the subject of that struggle: “You know, I will get through it. I’m sure of that. When that happens, I don’t know. Hopefully it happens in a few days. Hopefully happens at this event. If it doesn’t, maybe it happens during the grass.
“But the only way to get through it is to work your way through it, keep working on your game, try and understand what’s not been going right.
“You know, although it’s very frustrating, you have to try to enjoy this part of what we do, as well, because, you know, the struggles are, you know, part of what make the good times so enjoyable. You know, I need to enjoy my struggle a little bit just now and that will help me get through it quicker, I believe. The more frustrated you get, you know, it doesn’t help, either. So, you know, I’ll try and get through it as quickly as I can.”
This is certainly winnable for Murray and there is a sense that a comfortable win, and not getting dragged out to a four or five setter might start the long road to regaining some confidence in his game.
Prediction: Murray in three sets.
Featured Image Credit: Christopher Johnson
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