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Tennis: Murray renaissance raises hope of Masters Cup finale

By Paul Newman

Andy Murray spent his formative teenage years in Spain and has a clear affinity with the country. "I enjoy the way Spain works – going to sleep late, waking up late, eating late, sleeping during the day," Murray said after his crushing victory over Juan Ignacio Chela in the second round of the Madrid Masters. "I did quite a lot of that when I was training here."

Murray made his senior debut in Spain in 2005 and enjoyed one of his best victories of 2006 when he beat Ivan Ljubicic, the world No 3, here, while at this week's Masters series event he has recaptured the form that took him to No 8 in the world.

Although Murray made a tentative return from a wrist injury two months ago and reached the third round of the US Open and a final in Metz, he had still been below his best. All that has changed with two excellent displays here, the world No 17 dropping only nine games to Radek Stepanek, the No 30, and Chela, the No 16. Today he faces the winner of last night's match between Rafael Nadal and Marcos Baghdatis.

"When I came back from my injury I was playing top 100 tennis but not the top 10 tennis I was playing before," Murray said. "At the start of the year I was really consistent, winning a lot of matches and playing great shots. When I came back I was one step slower, I wasn't hitting the ball as cleanly as normal and I wasn't returning well. Right now is by far the best tennis I've been playing since Indian Wells and Miami earlier this year."

Although Murray needs to play exceptionally here and in the final Masters event in Paris to qualify for the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup, the defeats yesterday of David Ferrer, Carlos Moya and Tomas Berdych will have helped his cause.

Belfast Telegraph

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