Belfast Telegraph

Murray is out to make amends for past misery in US Open

 

By Eleanor Crooks

Unlike Kei Nishikori, Andy Murray has not forgotten their US Open quarter-final and is looking to make up for one that got away. The World No.1 was the favourite to claim the title in New York last summer after winning Wimbledon and Olympic gold, but came unstuck.

He won the first set against Nishikori 6-1, led by two sets to one and looked poised to go a break up in the fourth when play was interrupted by a loud noise from the PA system.

Murray lost his cool then fought back from 2-4 down in the decider to lead 5-4, but lost the last three games.

Remarkably, Nishikori was unable to recall the match at all on Monday despite the win being one of the biggest of his career.

With a sheepish grin, the eighth seed said: "I'm very bad with memories. I don't even know if I won or lost. I won?"

Murray has an encyclopaedic knowledge of his previous matches so there was no chance of him having a memory lapse.

He said: "Obviously we played at the US Open and that was five sets, a match that got away from me a little bit, so I need to learn a bit from that.

"There's a good chance it's a long one. He returns well and he's very solid off both wings. He's tough to play against.

"I'm happy with where my game's at. Everything is going well just now. I'm feeling good."

Murray has played himself into form from unpromising beginnings and played his best match of the fortnight so far in beating Karen Khachanov in round four.

The Scot has impressed former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic, who expects him to see off Nishikori.

The Croatian, who is playing in the 'legends' event at Roland Garros, said: "He didn't start the year like he wanted and he wasn't confident, but he found himself in the right moment.

"What better way to find yourself than at the French Open, when you're top seeded? Last year's finalist, he wants to win.

"He played very well (against Khachanov) and he's playing better and better. Now a lot of things are possible.

"I don't see Nishikori beating Andy. He doesn't have the mental side. He's going to crack, Andy is too good. Tennis-wise, yes, but it's not only hitting balls."

To win the title and complete the third leg of a career Grand Slam, Murray is very likely to have to get past nine-time champion Rafael Nadal.

The Spaniard has been in ominous form so far and stopping him will take some doing.

Asked how it could be done, Ivanisevic said: "Maybe put two guys there? Rafa is looking great. He's very confident but you can have one bad day and you're not allowed to have any more bad days because the opponents are strong. But Rafa knows that so I don't think it's going to happen."

Although Nishikori cannot remember their New York tussle, he needs no reminding how tough an opponent Murray can be. The 30-year-old has won eight of their 10 previous meetings, most recently at the World Tour Finals last November.

Nishikori said: "We have been playing so many times. He's a great player. A very smart player.

"It's never easy, this week he's been playing well. So I'm sure it's going to be a tough one, but I'll try to enjoy it and try to win."

Nishikori is not having the best season and has been made to work very hard so far in Paris.

He was taken to five sets by young South Korean Chung Hyeon in round three and then lost the opener 6-0 against Fernando Verdasco on Monday.

That was his third day playing in a row after the Chung match was affected by rain. He said: "I'm a little bit sore. Playing three days in a row isn't easy. But I'm sure it's going to be okay."

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