It’s becoming a regular pattern, and – for now at least – a small crisis for Andy Murray and his camp: a fine tournament win followed by a weak first round loss to a journeyman.
Last week’s display in Marseille was typical of the Scot. He had some gritty, and at times awkward, wins (e.g.., over Stanislas Wawrinka and Nicolas Mahut ) and some dominant displays (Jesse Huta Galung and a recovering Mario Ancic in the final). Of course his triumph was aided by the early exits of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the disappointing Richard Gasquet, and tennis’s new darling Novak Djokovic. However, such luck is commonplace in today’s game, and Murray’s second title of the year indicated a prosperous 2008 was to come.
Fresh off his return to the top ten and surely brimming with confidence, Murray then joined Marcos Baghdatis in exiting the first round of Rotterdam. This time he lost tamely to local wildcard Robin Hasse. Murray insisted fatigue was not a factor: “I wasn’t tired physically or mentally, I felt decent,” but even after beefing up somewhat since his gangly early years, Murray still has a lot of room to improve his physical condition, which would help his stamina.
Instead, Britain’s number one used a rather tired excuse that the court and balls were different and hard to get used to. Frankly, this excuse never really holds much weight. These players are professionals and the time they get to practice on such courts should surely eradicate any issues they have with the different surfaces from week to week.
Perhaps his dismissive view of the loss coupled with his recent title win suggests that priorities lie predominantly with the more glamorous, and rewarding, trio of upcoming tournaments: “This is just one of those matches you can afford in tournaments like this…now I will have some days off before I start preparing for Dubai and the Indian Wells and Miami stretch. It still has been a good start of the year.”
The above comment shows a still-young attitude towards the game that may well change as he matures. Either way, with two tournament wins and a return to the top ten, it has indeed been a fine start to Murray’s third full year on the ATP circuit.