June 3, 2017
Andy Murray is back! And that’s great news for tennis fans hoping to see their hero in top form at Wimbledon.
The old movement, the subtlety and flare were all there in abundance at Roland Garros, as the world number one downed Juan Martin del Potro 7-6 (10-8), 7-5, 6-0.
At last, after a difficult first half of the year, Murray is starting to look like a genuine top-dog once more.
Even if he doesn’t progress much further at the French Open, there is enough evidence to suggest that on grass, Murray will be a true contender to defend his title at Wimbledon 2017.
Sure, there are aspects to his game that still require more work. For example he won’t be too pleased that his opening set first serve percentage was down to 52 per cent.
But he played the drop shot to near-perfection on the Paris clay, and moved Del Potro all over the court at will, with a deft variation that proved too masterful for the South American to handle.
Many had Delpo down as favourite for this contest, given the fact that Murray had shown little of his best game thus far in 2017.
But Andy had always said that he believed he could make an impact at Roland Garros, and so it has proved with this one, pivotal match that will give him so much confidence with Wimbledon in mind.
In the end, it all boiled down to a dramatic first-set tie-break, and the call of a line judge that shattered Delpo’s spirit.
To the naked eye, Delpo’s forehand looked to have clipped the line as he trailed 8-9 in the breaker. It was called out and the controversial decision was endorsed by the umpire.
Del Potro, who looked less than fully fit, hung his head in despair as he slumped over the net, knowing deep down that not only the set had gone, but with it his chances of winning.
Rumoured to be suffering from a groin strain, the big man simply lacked the mobility to be able to answer the unpredictable and highly skilful nature of Murray’s resurgent game.
For all that, the gentle giant from Argentina had earned two set points in the tie-break, the second squandered only after ferocious defence from Murray in a nail-biting seventeen-shot rally.
The Brit held his nerve to press home his supriority once he had seized back momentum once more.
He broke immediately in the second, and, although Del Potro clawed his way back to 5-5 and received terrific backing from the Parisian crowd, it was all to no avail as Murray broke once more at the vital time.
The third set was merely a formality as Murray romped home with ease, confirming his claim to be capable recapturing his former prowess, coming good at just the right time for Wimbledon.
It would be a little optimistic to suggest he is going to win the French Open. But Wimbledon fans now have all the signs they were so desperately looking for.
This is the Andy Murray we all want to see. This is the Andy Murray who can win Wimbledon 2017.
And his return to form, coupled with Roger Federer’s superb first half of 2017, mean the tournament at London’s All England Club will be more delicious than ever before as a sporting treat.
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