Tired Murray slips up
They are used to tumbles and mishaps in the arena where Andy Murray played his third-round match in the Paris Masters here yesterday, which might be one of the reasons why there was little surprise at the 22-year-old Scot's loss to Radek Stepanek.
Court one at the Palais des Omnisports is a converted ice rink and although Murray skated through the first set he quickly fell to a 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 defeat in an hour and 37 minutes.
The court, tucked away below ground level and with an extremely low roof, is one of the more unlikely venues on the tennis circuit, though the more plausible explanation for Murray's up-and-down performance was the fact that he had had only 16 hours to recover from his match the night before. The world No 4's second-round victory over James Blake, which had taken two and a quarter hours, finished at 1.45am and he did not get to bed until 4am.
Given that he has just returned from a six-week break with a wrist injury and played five matches in six days last week in winning the Valencia Open, Murray will not be too displeased at having more time to prepare for the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, which begin at the O2 Arena in London in 10 days' time.
“I said last night that it would be difficult to recover so quickly after a long match,” he said after his defeat. “By the time I get to London I'm not sure this result is going to affect me at all.”
Rafael Nadal survived a scare to win in three sets against Tommy Robredo, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, having seen his fellow Spaniard serve for the match.
The race to secure the final two places at the World Tour Finals took a significant twist when Nikolay Davydenko and Fernando Verdasco, the men in pole position, were both beaten. Davydenko went down 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 to Robin Soderling, while Verdasco was beaten 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 by Marin Cilic.
Soderling is among those who could still reach the end-of-year finale, although the Swede would need at least to reach the final here to qualify. He next faces world No 3 Novak Djokovic who reached the quarter-finals for the first time by beating Arnaud Clement 6-2, 6-2. Julien Benneteau, who had knocked out Federer 24 hours earlier, was beaten 6-4, 6-3 by Gael Monfils.
Meanwhile, the 2009 Wimbledon Championships generated a £29.2million surplus that will be invested in British tennis, the Lawn Tennis Association have announced.
The figure compares favourably with the £25.7million raised by the tournament last year.