Berdych ends Murray's winning run
Friday 11 November 2011
Andy Murray's 18-match winning run came to an end in the quarter-finals of the Paris Masters this afternoon, as Tomas Berdych came from behind to secure a thrilling win over the world number three.
With Murray's form so imperious going into the match - he had won his last three tournaments and overtaken Roger Federer in the rankings - it was expected he would routinely secure a last-four berth when he won the first set.
But Berdych, who now has a 3-1 record over the Scot, dug deep and raised his game to a new level in the next two thrilling sets, often forcing Murray to lose his temper as he won 4-6 7-6 (7/5) 6-4.
Murray engaged in a heated debate with the umpire midway through the final set, his anger no doubt increased by the amount of chances he passed up during the three-hour 10-minute tussle.
There was little sign of what was to come when Berdych started proceedings off with a routine hold, but Murray had some trouble repeating the trick, having to save three early break points before levelling.
He looked awkward in holding again in the fourth and, with Berdych heading to the net and spreading his ample frame at every opportunity, Murray was struggling to find a way in to the match.
A love service game to get to 3-3 helped him settle, though, and in the next game he broke, with his aggressive passing forehand forcing Berdych to net after he had charged in once more.
Murray staved off two break points in the next game, moving to within a game of the set in the process, but he spurned seven chances to take if off the Berdych serve in the ninth game.
However, his generosity did not cost him and he took the set on serve in the next game, sealing it when he crunched a forehand from wide out that Berdych could only return into the net.
It was Berdych's first dropped set of the week, but he immediately set about trying to win one back, holding and then breaking Murray at the start of the second.
One break nearly became two as Murray crumbled on serve in the fourth, conceding two break points when he netted a routine forehand, only to salvage the game and move to 3-1.
Both players then held to love and it seemed as though serve would prevail for the set until Murray broke in the ninth game, earning two break points and cashing one in when Berdych slapped a forehand long.
Back on track, Murray saw the set through to a tie-break, but then contrived to undo his hard work by losing it.
Having taken a mini-break off the first point, he quickly gave one back, before slumping to 5-2 behind, with forehand pinned to the baseline by Berdych a particular highlight.
Murray won three points in a row, though, two of which came from stunning two-handed winners, before hitting a regulation forehand long to give Berdych a set point which he duly converted at the net.
Serve was held for the first three games of the decider, but it should have been lost in the fourth when Murray earned and then squandered two break points.
It was after another hold in the fifth that Murray went to the umpire's chair and complained vociferously after the quality of the balls, but it did little to put either man off as the set progressed to 4-4.
The crucial break came in the ninth game, though, with Murray screaming out in frustration as he planted a forehand wide to give Berdych three break points, one of which he was unable to save courtesy of a double fault.
Faced with serving out the match, Berdych showed signs of tension himself, punching a forehand long to give Murray a break point he could not take, before Murray chased down a drop shot for the point of the match to earn another.
He could not take that either, or another when Berdych netted, leaving the Czech to clinch the match when he forced Murray to go wide.
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