Andy Murray misses out on historic doubles title with Colin Fleming

 

Andy Murray and Colin Fleming have failed in their attempt to become the first Britons to win a Masters Series doubles title, but the Scots could still take pride in a remarkable week's work in Montreal. For both men it has been excellent preparation for the US Open, which begins in a fortnight's time.

After his early exit from the singles, when he was beaten in the third round by Ernests Gulbis, Murray talked last week about the need to play more matches in the build-up to the year's final Grand Slam event. Although he entered the doubles only at the last minute, it proved an inspired decision as Murray and Fleming both reached their first Masters Series doubles final.

Although they lost 6-4, 7-6 to the No 3 seeds, Austria's Alexander Peya and Brazil's Bruno Soares, the defeat followed some excellent victories over some of the best doubles players in the world. To reach the final Murray and Fleming knocked out Julien Benneteau and Nenad Zimonjic, Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek, Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer, and Robert Lindstedt and Daniel Nestor.

The Scots came together only after Fleming discovered that he would not get into the tournament with his regular partner, Jonny Marray, because their ranking was not high enough. Murray, who has won two doubles titles alongside his brother Jamie, had never played with Fleming before, though the two men have known each other since their childhood days in Scotland. Fleming, the world No 28 in doubles, is set to climb to a career-high position around No 20 in today's updated rankings list.

The start of the US Open is just 14 days away, but before that there is another Masters Series tournament to be played this week in Cincinnati. With Roger Federer returning after pulling out of Montreal with a back problem, it will be the first time that all the top men have been in the same field since Wimbledon.

Murray, twice a champion in Cincinnati, will need to be on his game from the start. After a first-round bye he will play his first match against either Mikhail Youzhny or Gulbis. Thereafter he is seeded to meet Fabio Fognini in the third round, Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals and Nadal in the semi-finals. Djokovic and David Ferrer are the top seeds in the other half of the draw.

The world No 2 said he would work hard to improve his game every day. "The goal is to try and peak at the US Open," Murray said. "But to do that you need to make sure you prepare yourself well."

Until last week Murray and Novak Djokovic were the clear favourites for New York, but Rafael Nadal has thrust himself back into the equation with some remarkable performances in Montreal, where he won the singles title last night by beating Canada's Milos Raonic 6-2, 6-2.

Nadal, playing in his first tournament since his shock opening-round loss at Wimbledon, followed up his semi-final win over Novak Djokovic by beating Raonic in just over an hour. The 27-year-old Spaniard will rise to No 3 in the world rankings today while Raonic will move into the top 10 for the first time. Djokovic had got the better of Nadal in their previous four meetings on hard courts, all in finals, but was beaten 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 on this occasion.

Serena Williams claimed her eighth title of the year when she won the final in Toronto last night, beating Romania's Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-0. Cirstea had beaten two former world No 1s, Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Jankovic, and two Grand Slam champions, Petra Kvitova and Li Na, en route to the final, but lasted less than an hour against Williams as the American won the 54th singles title of her career.

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