Andy Murray spectacularly ended Lucky Loser Lucas Pouille’s run in Rome, and booked himself a place in the Rome final for the first time in his career.
With the rain playing havoc with the programme in Rome on Saturday, he found himself on court first once the clouds had temporarily cleared and swiftly leapt out to a 4-1 lead but at 4-2 40/0 the players were taken off as Rome’s weather decided to get back in on the act.
Despite a bit of resistance from the Frenchman, as Murray needed three set points to wrap up the lead, it was plain sailing for the Brit as he dashed through the second set, to close out the 6-2 6-1 win in a minute shy of an hour,
As reported in ATPWorldTour.com, Murray said: “I think I have made some improvements in my game [in the past year],” said Murray. “Last year I was winning a lot of matches at this time of the year, but I do think I’m playing better tennis this year. I think my serve has been a big improvement for me.
“That’s why in matches like today, Lucas had no opportunities on my serve. I had a few matches like that over the past few weeks, and that hasn’t always been the case.
“To get like a win in the semi-finals of a Masters 1000 losing five points on serve is the first time that’s happened in my career, and that’s been the most pleasing thing for me.”
For the second time in a week, Murray faces World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the final, and what’s more it is the second time he has made it in first with Djokovic battling a very tenacious Kei Nishikori in possibly the best men’s match of the tournament – so far!
It took the defending champion three hours to fight past Nishikori, who must have stamped his card to be considered on the list of contenders at the very list, for the French Open which starts at the end of the month.
Nishikori was in point from the start, fleet of foot and taking time away from Djokovic, who also bizarrely managed to hack at his ankle with his own racquet, requiring a medical timeout. Djokovic picked up his level in the second set, as Nishikori seemed to dip, as Djokovic nudged ahead.
It looked all over for the Japanese player, as he jumped out to a 4-1 lead, but he worked his way back, getting the break back and saving a match point to force a decider. Even then the drama didn’t let up, as Nishikori saved two match points, dropping on the third.
It makes no sense to really dwell on the scheduling as we have seen that Djokovic finds a way to lift his level when it really matters to him. While it looked like he had a slow start in Madrid, he was playing solidly but Djokovic was on fire at the start. Murray must start fast and take advantage of any redicual fatigue after a three hour slugfest.
For two men born a week apart, it would be a great birthday present if Murray can notch up another win over the Serbian, and snapping a four match losing streak, his last win coming at the Canadian Masters.
Quick start, keeping his composure, patient hitting and variety are key, stopping Djokovic from dominating from the back of the court – all easier said that done, but this could be his best chance to claim a vital win ahead of his Roland Garros preparations.
Prediction: Murray in thee sets.
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