Ailing Murray has no answers for Ferrer
It was all going so well. Huge publicity throughout London, sellout crowds of 17,500 per session and a great first-day match that saw Rafael Nadal survive a spirited challenge from Mardy Fish.
Then Andy Murray, the local hero, slumps to a 6-4, 7-5 defeat at the hands of David Ferrer, the fifth-seeded Spaniard he had beaten with some ease three times this year and twice during his three-titles-in-three-weeks streak in Asia last month.
Worse still, Murray is not sure he will be fit to play his next round-robin match on Wednesday. Three days after returning from Paris, where he lost a marathon against Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinal of the ATP Masters event, he did something to a groin muscle in practice and has been handicapped ever since.
“I’ll decide tomorrow (Tuesday) whether or not I keep playing,” said a morose looking Murray. “I didn’t know exactly how I was going to feel on court. I haven’t been able to do much training this week. I didn’t feel particularly great. I felt flat in the second set when I had some chances.”
In fact Murray, who had a courtside massage from the ATP trainer at the end of the first set, broke first in both sets and had a second break in the second to lead 4-3. But then he missed two game points that would have given him 5-3. On each occasion a first-serve percentage that barely got above 50 percent and finished at 44 percent let him down. Against a returner as effective as Ferrer, a good serving performance is essential and Murray simply didn’t deliver.
The frustration showed on his face towards the end because he had still managed to come up with some fabulous winners, including his trademark cross-court backhand on the reach with his two-hander, but carving out openings is no good if you can’t hold on to them.
Especially against the tenacious Spaniard. “He’s just very, very solid,” said Murray. “He gives you very few points. Normally I’ve served well against him, so you can get a few free points but he returned well today and was always putting pressure on my service game. That was the main difference.”
Murray was surprised at the number of unforced errors produced by both players and, unhappily for him, his tally was higher -- 44 to 38.
The Scot admitted that if this had not been the ATP Finals or a Grand Slam he would not have played and the thought of having to pull out and end the season on that note would, in his words, “be gutting, yeah, really gutting.”
Meanwhile the underrated Ferrer was naturally elated. “I’m very happy, no? I won (against) Andy in London. Is not easy. Maybe I serve better than the other times. In important moments I take my chances.”
The question for British fans is: Will Murray get another chance?