Nick Bolletieri: Poker-faced Murray holds all the aces

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The Independent Online

Take a look at Andy Murray when he walks on to Centre Court this afternoon. There is a man in control of his self, a man with the demeanour of a winner. It is tremendous to see.

He is a strong favourite to beat Feliciano Lopez and so take his place in the semi-finals for the third year in a row. There is a difference this year, though, and that guy out there looks like a new Andy Murray. I tell you he has impressed me like never before over the last nine days – sure on the court, but off it too. The way he has talked with the press and faced up in interviews, a young man at ease, confident but not arrogant, not getting drawn into saying anything rash or bigging himself up or getting involved in any silly business.

I see Murray as being twofold better than last year – when he was outplayed by a rampant Rafael Nadal in the last four. There is a huge, huge difference and I'm feeling very, very positive about our boy. His game has improved in key areas – the serve is bigger and more consistent for a start, but above all it looks to me as if it's down to confidence.

There was a moment against Richard Gasquet on Monday – and that was a damn fine performance by Murray – when he was 30-love down on his serve. Pow. Pow. Two aces and it was 30-all. At a key point in a game, in the match in fact, he was prepared to – and able to – go big. There was less emotion on show as well from Murray. He's beginning to resemble a poker player at the table for a big game in Vegas. He is not giving anything away to his opponent. The concentration is there to add to the passion that has always been hot and strong inside Andy Murray.

Lopez's main weapon is his serve. And what's the most striking part of Murray's game? His return of serve. He has one of the best in the game. Advantage Murray, guys. Even though Lopez is a lefty I don't expect him to cause Murray too many problems. He hasn't when they have met in the past – in four matches, Lopez has taken only one set. But this will be their first meeting on grass.

Murray has the aces so Lopez has to mix it up. He's got to get forward, surprise Murray, mix up that serve and send down some high kickers. But holy cow, is he going to have to play some to challenge the guy facing him across the net.

Round by round Murray has been hotting up. His game is developing and he is becoming more offensive. Safety first is not enough. Murray has it, or should I say the new Murray. I like what I see – who wouldn't? – and that is why he is the big favourite today.

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