x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Murray struggles in home comfort to down Berdych

Brit concedes 10 break points before going past his rival in first game of the ATP finals.

Andy Murray appreciated the crowd support for him in London but rival Tomas Berdych said he was expecting more.
Andy Murray appreciated the crowd support for him in London but rival Tomas Berdych said he was expecting more.

The clang of the advertising sign seemed served as a wake-up call for a frustrated Andy Murray yesterday.

The US Open champion, playing at home in Britain for the first time since winning his first major title two months ago, wasted 10 break points before finally finding his game and beating Tomas Berdych 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the opening match of the ATP finals.

Murray missed all seven of his break chances in the first set, and then wasted three more in the fourth game of the second set.

After the third, he whacked the ball in anguish, but even that failed to make it to the other side of the court. Instead, it clanged off the sponsor sign hanging on the net.

Berdych then put a forehand wide, and Murray finally earned the break he needed to take the second set when his Czech opponent's forehand sailed long, making it 3-1.

"Unfortunately there was just, well, small details that just decided today," said Berdych, who had wasted three break points in the previous game.

"Just hit a forehand return, and it was just like small out. And who knows, it could be 2-1, early break after winning the first set."

In the third set, Murray did not waste his only opportunity. He converted the one break point he earned in that final set to take a 2-1 lead, and then lost only three points on his serve the rest of the way.

Murray said in his post match interview: "It was very tough from the start. Berdych has had a great year. I have played him a few times this year and it has been tough every time.

"I have played some big matches in London this year and the support right throughout has been great.

"It's one last push for the end of the year and having so many people watching helps with the adrenalin.

"If you can you need to treat it like a knockout event because if you win the first two matches you usually go through."

The Scot was playing in Britain for the first time since ending the country's 76-year wait for a men's Grand Slam champion.

Although he reached the Wimbledon final and won the gold medal at the London Olympics, no British man had won a major tennis title since Fred Perry in 1936.

Murray changed that in New York, and the crowd cheered loudly when he was introduced. The noise at the O2 Arena, however, died down once the match got going. "I was maybe expecting more," Berdych said of the quiet atmosphere.

Ivan Lendl was back in Murray's box for the first time since the US Open and the coach would have been pleased with the way his charge had turned things around.

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