Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Melbourne: ‘Murra’culous

Murray d. Nadal 6-3 7-6 3-0 (ret)

Shame it had to end the way it did.

But only the most rabid of Rafaelites will find it necessary to insist upon Nadal’s knees unduly influencing the result.

murray (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Truth be told, Murray earnt this win as cleanly and honestly as the day is long – north-of-Norway long.

What’s more is he did it, not with the wholesale aggression demanded by his severest critics -- the same dirtbags that expect Rafa to shorten points by reinventing himself as James Blake overnight -- but with a carefully conceived blend comprised of his most effective existing set-plays, further appended with BIG serving, forehand winners (when was the last time you saw him hit one of those) and selective serve-volleying that's not treated like some cheap substitute for a Holy Grail.

A combination that clearly threw Rafa, despite his resolute and focused start.

How about that.

nadal (PAUL CROCK/AFP/Getty Images)

Nadal may have pulled up painfully early on in that final set, but he played the two sets prior to it, almost at full throttle.

I saw nothing that would suggest he was playing through any pain early on– you simply cannot manufacture that sort of pulsating, vibrant physicality on court lugged with an injury, however well disguised.

We’ll leave the question of how Rafa’s knees will affect his remaining career (the demise of which could come as soon as the end of this year, depending on whom you speak with); let me note for now that coming unstuck against one of the tournaments most skilled competitors playing the match of his life doesn’t sully his record in the least.

That first set in particular was unmitigated class – likely the best set of tennis Muzz has played since late 2008.

Any regression into that grindy-murky past will however be quickly be seized upon by young Marin, who may have played three five setters to get to this point, but is perhaps at his most ravenous.

Don’t forget how much crazy pain you’re capable of playing through when you’re 21. Especially when there are such rich pickings to be had.

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