Tomas Berdych is one of the only players outside the “Big Four” who have regularly got the better of Andy Murray, but the Czech suffered a resounding defeat at the hands of the Scot in last night’s semi-finals of the Miami Masters.
Murray’s 6-4, 6-4 victory levelled their head-to-head record at six wins apiece, but more importantly it put the world No 4 one win away from claiming his first Masters Series title since he won at the same venue two years ago.
One of Murray’s main aims is to be more consistent throughout the season and he has followed up his runs to the Australian Open final and Indian Wells semi-finals with his fourth appearance in the Miami final. Tomorrow he will attempt to triumph at Crandon Park for the third time when he meets the winner of last night’s later semi-final between Novak Djokovic and John Isner.
Murray, who has a second home in Miami and knows the courts and conditions there as well as anyone, produced a masterful display, full of guile as well as attacking intent. His superiority was such that the match was played in a comparatively subdued atmosphere, though his fist-pumping victory celebration showed how much this meant to him.
When Murray beat Berdych in the semi-finals of the Australian Open two months ago, much of the interest had focused on the two entourages. Dani Vallverdu, a long-time friend and member of Murray’s team, had parted company with the Scot at the end of 2014 and quickly resurfaced as Berdych’s coach.
Andy Murray Guest Edits The Beano
Andy Murray Guest Edits The Beano
1/8 Andy Murray Guest Edits The Beano
It's the guest edit we never thought we'd see - Wimbledon champion Murray takes over the Beano for a very special £2 edition.
2/8 Andy Murray Guest Edits The Beano
In it, he stars as a sort of dishevelled Tony Blair look-a-like, alongside Beano stalwarts Dennis the Menace and his faithful dog Gnasher.
3/8 Andy Murray Guest Edits The Beano
Even in comic form, the tears flowed for Murray. Dennis leaps to his aid to teach him to control his emotions and 'unleash his inner menace' ahead of the tournament.
4/8 Andy Murray Guest Edits The Beano
In order to get his crying in order, he hurtles down some stairs on an upturned table.
5/8 Andy Murray Guest Edits The Beano
And then catapults himself onto a swinging light.
6/8 Andy Murray Guest Edits The Beano
Which appears to work momentarily, which inspires an incredibly creepy Blair face from him.
7/8 Andy Murray Guest Edits The Beano
But then disaster strikes...
8/8 Andy Murray Guest Edits The Beano
... And he winds up in hospital. Read the rest of the story in this week's edition.
Since Melbourne, Berdych has also recruited Jez Green, one of Murray’s former fitness trainers, who left at the same time as Vallverdu. Both Green and Vallverdu were said to have been upset at Murray’s failure to keep them informed last summer when he appointed Amélie Mauresmo as his coach. Murray, nevertheless, insisted before last night’s match that he had put the past behind him.
Berdych’s big-hitting game can trouble Murray, but the Czech was denied the chance to find any rhythm. Murray limited the world No 7’s chances to attack by putting an admirable 70 per cent of his first serves in court and kept him on the run with bold hitting and clever variations of pace. Berdych was repeatedly outfoxed by Murray’s drop shots and lobs.
The match began with three successive breaks of serve. Berdych made a succession of mistakes in the first game, broke back immediately with a superb backhand winner down the line, but then made more unforced errors to hand back the advantage. Murray served out for the set with a succession of big first serves.
At the start of the second set, Murray again got the better of three successive breaks of serve. Berdych went 0-40 down in the first game after netting a volley and then double-faulting. In the next game, it was Murray’s turn to double-fault on break point, but once again the Scot broke for a second time as Berdych netted two successive forehands.
The only time Murray faltered thereafter was when he went 0-30 down as he served for the match at 5-4, but he played the next four points superbly to close out victory.
“I’ve played well this week, much better than I played in Indian Wells,” Murray said afterwards. “I served well on the big points and when I was behind I got a lot of free points on my serve. I felt I dictated a lot of the points from the baseline. As soon as I got myself in a neutral position off the return I was the one dictating.”
Today’s women’s final will see Serena Williams attempt to win the title for an eighth time. The world No 1 faces Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro, who will be playing in her first premier-level final.Reuse content