Breaks favour Murray in duel to give Scotland cup triumph

Andy Murray had a good day. Hibs beat Rangers and he defeated Greg Rusedski to win the inaugural Aberdeen Cup for Scotland. Actually the young Scot equalised against Rusedski, who had beaten him on Saturday night, 7-5, 7-6, in the first leg of their weekend double-header.

But the point Murray secured last night ­ winning 4-6, 6-4 and 10-1 in a champions tie-break ­ added to the contributions by his compatriots, ensured that Scotland defeated England, 4½ points to 2½.

It could hardly be described as a triumph over the auld enemy since this is a new event and Rusedski was born in Canada. The Aberdeen Cup, played over two days with top billing going to the duels between the 18-year-old Murray, from Dunblane, and the 32-year-old Rusedski, from Montreal, is an exhibition event. Its purpose is to give Scottish tennis enthusiasts an opportunity to see Murray play live and to foster the interest his progress has created.

Murray's return to his homeland after making an admirable start to his professional tennis career was heralded by an MC whose introduction style would have fitted snugly in the ring for Ricky Hatton's world title fight in Sheffield.

"Team Scot-land! ­ An-dy Mur-ray!" boomed John McDonald, a Londoner. "Team Eng-land! ­ Greg Rus-ed-ski!"

Although Murray is the up-and-coming talent, Rusedski was the one who was fast-tracked, afforded the advantage of plying his serve-and-volley trade on a quick indoor surface. Not many Supreme carpet courts are used nowadays, partly because Goran Ivanisivic once hit 100 aces in five matches on the indoor surface in Stuttgart more than a decade ago.

"This is like the old-style courts I grew up on in the '90s," a nostalgic Rusedski said after winning his first match against Murray on Saturday night. "Maybe we'll pick it up and bring it to Glasgow for the Davis Cup next year."

Murray probably had other plans for the court, which did not help his point-constructing baseline game developed on the slow clay courts in Barcelona and particularly effective on the medium-pace concrete surfaces in the United States.

Having created only one chance to Rusedski's four in the first set, Murray lost his serve in the 12th game. In the second set, Rusedski held three break points for a 4-0 lead, but Murray saved them and went on to level the set at 3-3. Rusedski, who has a strained left calf, continued to serve with a mixture of the venomous ­ a ballgirl had to be helped from the court after being hit in the ribs with a 120mph delivery ­ and the erratic, finishing the match with 17 aces and 10 double-faults.

Although Murray won the first four points in the tie-break, helped by two of Rusedski's double-faults, the Scot lost six of the next seven points. Rusedski double-faulted on the first match point, at 6-5, but converted the second, for 8-6, with a low backhand volley.

"When Greg's first serve went in, it was difficult to get back," Murray said. "Losing 7-5, 7-6 on a fast court like this is not a bad result for me. It's been four weeks since I played my last match. I took three weeks off after Basle and I've had a bit of a back problem practising." After playing in Basle, where he won his first match against Tim Henman, the British No 1, Murray spent time at a fitness and medical centre in France. He was told that his cramping during matches is related to a weakness in the lower back.

"At least I know now what I need to get better at, and as I get stronger cramping's not going to be a problem in the future," he said.


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