The Reuters global sports blog
Murray makes good on rankings goal with Asian hat-trick
The end of season for the top players can be a tough time because of fatigue; all their work is based around peaking for the slams. With Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer both out of action (neither have played since the last Davis cup tie) the top two seeds were Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray for the Shanghai Masters Series.
Murray has been playing really well having won in Thailand and Tokyo leading into the Shanghai event. Murray has made a concerted effort to play more aggressively, also the courts are faster and so it actually forces him to play more aggressively which is a good thing.
Nadal on the other hand looked a bit flat in Shanghai and lost to world number 23 Florian Mayer in the third round. It is a match Nadal would not have lost at the beginning of the year; it’s not unusual at this time of year to see Nadal a bit flat. I believe he needs to get some rest and try to recover to have a chance to get back to world number one next year. I am not expecting much from Nadal for the rest of the year but his competitive personality will mean that he will do his best regardless.
Murray on the other hand is looking sharp, once Nadal fell out of the draw he became the heavy favourite to win Shanghai. For the players outside of the top 10 in the world this is a good time to get their ranking up – especially if you are fresh and motivated.
The semi- finals in Shanghai proved that. You had Murray versus Japan’s Kei Nishikori and David Ferrer versus Feliciano Lopez. The first semi-final between Ferrer and Lopez went the distance and Ferrer, not surprisingly, came through 6-3 in the third. Lopez blinked at the end of the second and third to lose serve, but Ferrer is just better – it’s as simple as that.
Murray played well to destroy the Japanese number one to get to the finals. In the finals Murray dominated Ferrer like usual to win his second Master’s Series of the year and looks like he is going to finish at his highest year-end ranking of number three. This was his goal for the end of the year and it looks like it is going to happen. What a great trip for Murray in Asia. Three tournaments played, three tournaments won playing the right way. If he can keep this kind of play up it could be the catalyst for his first major in 2012.
There is only one slight aspect of his game which he needs to improve and that is his 2nd serve points won. He needs to be more aggressive with the 2nd serve and have more variety. He is a lowly 50th in that category on the tour but the forehand and first serve seem much improved.
A lot to look forward to for the new world number three.