Scotland the Brave: Battling Andy Murray Keeps His French Open Dream Alive
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We followers of Andy Murray know only too well that watching him is likely to be an emotional roller coaster, but few would have been prepared for the horror show of the opening two sets of his fourth round match at Roland Garros against Serbia's Viktor Troicki.
Murray had won their three previous encounters, but had never met Troicki on clay. Prior to the the match, the focus was the Scotsman's injured ankle, but the main concern after the No. 4 seed had conspired to lose the first five games was for his mental state, rather than physical matters.
Despite winning the next four games, he proceeded to pass up a break point in the tenth game, handing the first set to the mobile Serb.
A break against Troicki's serve in the sixth game suggested the storm was passing for Britain's number, only for him to hand the initiative back to his opponent in the next game with some wildly erratic shots. The second set was soon Troicki's, as Murray appeared to unravel .
A torrent of poor first serves, woeful drop shots and plenty of unforced errors were bad enough, but Andy's most powerful weapon , his backhand, was, at this stage, malfunctioning as the agile Serb was moving him all over the court and dictating play.
Even on a good day, our hero gives the impression that he is about to collapse with nervous exhaustion, but now with his game falling apart, mental deterioration soon followed. Two smashed racquets, the second of which should have cost him the second set on a code violation, several audible profanities and a stream of bizarre rambling suggested his retiring to a darkened room following a straight sets defeat was imminent.
Then suddenly, it all appeared to change. Gone was "Mr Hyde" replaced by "Dr. Jekyll". As he calmed, his passing shots started hitting the mark as his opponent ran out of steam, but not before he broke Murray again in the third game of the third set. The Scotsman responded, winning five of the next six games to win the set.
The fourth set fell to Murray with the aid of two breaks of serve in the failing light as his game began to come back together. His first serve improved as the ace tally increased, and now it is Troicki who is yearning for the comfort of the locker room and a chance to regroup.
Whether Troicki's chances of winning have evaporated depends on which Murray appears for the fifth and final set tomorrow. If it is the petulant, surly youth of the first two sets, then the upset is still on. If it is the dogged battler of the third and fourth, then Murray's followers can look forward to another nailbiting tussle in the quarterfinals.
At this stage, I doubt if even Andy knows which version will appear at Roland Garros tomorrow.
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