Murray Defeated Dimitrov In R4 Of US Open – Then Why Did The Scot Clutch Her Head?

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September 7, 2016 - Andy Murray in action against Kei Nishikori in a men's quarterfinal match during the 2016 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY.

Andrew Murray at the US Open (Courtesy of Garrett Elwood/USTA)

How it’s New York: This article covers a Men’s Round 4 (“R4”) at the US Open, which took place in Flushing, Queens.
How it’s Irish: Celtic – Andrew Murray, the No. 2-seeded player representing Great Britain, is Scottish!

At the US Open R4 Monday night, I saw Andrew Murray (Great Britain) get his own back from Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgaria) – who had beat out Murray in the Miami Open this spring.

 

And Murray took control with his serves, firing off a personal-best, 141-mph serve that had commentator John McEnroe jumping out of his chair. 

…firing off a personal-best, 141-mph serve that had commentator John McEnroe jumping out of his chair.

“I did go up in [racket string] tension a little bit from the last match. Maybe that allowed me to feel like I was able to swing a little bit harder.” (Which also explains why Dimitrov halted the game to have his racket restrung.) Murray added, “I didn’t give him an opportunity, once I was ahead, to let him back in the match.”

September 7, 2016 - Andy Murray in action against Kei Nishikori in a men's quarterfinal match during the 2016 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY.

Andrew Murray at the US Open (courtesy of Garrett Elwood/USTA)

Dimitrov started strong, but it didn’t take long to see that he was off his game. He was outmatched, but really wasn’t “in it,” anyway, making many unforced errors. He tried to rally a number of times but couldn’t, unintentionally sliding around the court while trying to anticipate where Murray would send the ball, then racing to a wrong corner. Dimitrov missed quite a number of serves, literally standing there and letting the ball fly by. He seemed in a fog that was painful to watch. Dimitrov later observed, “Obviously, today I ran out of fuel, I think, physically and mentally.”

So, what was it like for the spectators experiencing such a (mis-)match: a Number 22-seeded player off his game against a Number 2-seeded player? Surprisingly interesting – but then, I had a great advantage: a semi-retired Scottish couple from Aberdeen who had come to NYC just to see the Open were sitting next to me. They were both rabid Murray fans and, as I was wearing a kilt (to support Murray, of course), they took me under their wing and explained the finer points of tennis, Murray-adoration, golf, post-Brexit UK, and Scotland to me. During the 2+ -hour match, their knowledge and passion for the game – and Murray – was a real education.

Have you ever wondered if you saw the same game (or movie, or play, or…?) that you read about in the news the next day?

Have you ever wondered if you saw the same game that you read about in the news the next day?

Yes, Murray took control of the game and kept it. And he had some truly wonderful moves – for example, sliding in and stretching his body to return an impossible shot – and that astonishing serve. But he said, “I played very well. Tactically I played a very good match. I don’t think I made any mistakes there. I kept good concentration throughout,” and “I didn’t give him an opportunity once I was ahead to let him back in the match.” If Murray kept his “foot on the gas,” then why did it take him over 2 hours to finish off the game – and his lackluster opponent? Was Murray playing with Dimitrov for some reason? Or perhaps he was taking the opportunity to experiment with different attacks/strategies that he never would have had the luxury of trying out on a higher-ranked competitor?

This is no mere quibble: I saw Murray miss a number of Dimitrov’s serves, and commit errors both forced and unforced. He made multiple requests for rulings regarding the ball being in or out of bounds. And repeatedly lobbing the ball is a great play if it’s successful, but Murray’s weren’t always (although, admittedly, Dimitrov missed nearly every trick that even a novice knows, of rocketing a return to his advantage). Each time I thought I was simply misunderstanding what I saw, the Murray-adoring Scottish woman would clutch her head and cry out “Oh, Ahn-dy!”

…the Murray-adoring Scottish woman would clutch her head and cry out “Oh, Ahn-dy!”

You can’t get more validation than that.

Well, as I reported in the beginning of this article – and the media trumpeted – Murray still won the day by a wide margin, with an astonishingly-fast serve as the icing on the cake. He advanced to play the Number 6-seeded Kei Nishikori (Japan) in the Quarter Finals on Wednesday afternoon, and has a chance to become the fourth man in Open history to reach all four Grand Slam finals in a single season. In addition, Murray’s just been nominated (along with Kyle Edmund, Dan Evans, his brother Jamie Murray, and Dom Inglot) – depending on his outcome at the US Open – for next weekend’s Davis Cup semi-finals against Argentina in Glasgow. And let’s not forget that Murray won an Olympic gold medal.

There was one final accolade for Murray: someone thought he saw the low-key Ivan Lendl [Murray’s coach] smile.

…someone thought he saw the low-key Ivan Lendl [Murray’s coach] smile.

Ivan Lendl, Murray's coach, looks on (courtesy of Darren Carroll/USTA)

Ivan Lendl, Murray’s coach, looks on (courtesy of Darren Carroll/USTA)

UPDATE: Murray lost to Number 6-seeded Kei Nishikori (Japan) in the Quarter Finals on Wednesday afternoon.

 

 

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