Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 24 September 2020

Andy Murray screams, vents and shows some form in French Open win over Andrey Kuznetsov

Ahmed Rizvi analyses Andy Murray's French Open first round win over Andrey Kuznetsov.
Andy Murray pumps his fist after winning his French Open first round match against Andrey Kuznetsov. Michel Euler / AP Photo
Andy Murray pumps his fist after winning his French Open first round match against Andrey Kuznetsov. Michel Euler / AP Photo

Hours before the start of his French Open campaign, a dour Andy Murray, already struggling for consistency and form, suggested he needs to start enjoying his struggles if he hopes to get through this phase quickly.

“The more frustrated you get, it doesn’t help either,” he said.

Even if the world No 1 had someone like Pepe Imaz on his team, it is impossible to imagine Murray being anything but irked about the way he is playing at the moment. And Tuesday was no exception.

Looking ragged through the first set against Andrey Kuznetsov, Murray did just about enough to wrap it up on his second attempt, with a break, after failing to serve for it. In the second set, however, his standards dropped alarmingly and the chatter started.

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Screaming and cursing through points, Murray turned towards his box and applauded sarcastically after dropping his serve in the fifth game of the second set. That release of steam did not help much, but losing the second set certainly did.

Murray, suddenly, looked a changed man, charged up and urging himself on with those screams of “come on!”

There was the occasional shake of the head to acknowledge a good serve or shot by Kuznetsov, but the Scot was generally in control and, with his confidence growing, brought his full repertoire of shots out, including some deft drop shots towards the finish.

Zooming through that third set, Murray then blanked the Russian world No 73 in the fourth for a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 win.

“I started to feel better as the match wore on,” said Murray in the post-match television interview, as he talked about returning to the court where he reached the final last year.

“Last year was a great year for me here. It was the best I’d ever played here after 10 years. I struggled a bit at first, but each year I kept coming back and tried to do a bit better, and last year was really good.

“And in Bercy [Paris Masters] was when I reached world No 1, so a lot of good memories from Paris, and I’ll try to have another good run this year.”

Next up for Murray is Martin Klizan and he could then meet Juan Martin del Potro in a potential blockbuster third round. Before that, though, Murray will be hoping he can get his serve percentages up.

According to his 2016 stats, Murray won 76 per cent on his first serves and 54 per cent on his second serves. This year, those numbers have dropped to 72 and 50. Against Kuznetsov, those numbers were 72 and 54.

“The past few months have not been good, obviously,” Murray said earlier in Paris. “I haven’t played well. I had a few issues as well.”

That list of “issues” includes shingles, which he contracted after returning home from the Australian Open, at least two bouts of flu and a torn tendon in his right elbow, which might be affecting his serve.

Murray, however, is not willing to make excuses.

“I need to accept that I’m struggling and then find a way to get through it,” he said.

“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 it happens at this event. If it doesn’t, maybe it happens during the grass” court season.

If he can replicate the form in those final two sets against Kuznetsov, the turnaround could happen this week.

arizvi@thenational.ae

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Updated: May 30, 2017 04:00 AM

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