Murray beats heat to join the last eight

It probably says more about Britain's desperate search for sporting heroes than Andy Murray's prospects of success in the forthcoming US Open, but he was yesterday quoted by bookmakers as the 6-4 favourite to be the BBC TV Sports Personality of the Year.

Murray's odds were cut from 8-1 on the strength of one win in the Western and Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati, a tournament of which large sections of the British public were probably unaware until the country's No 1 player pulled off one of the shocks of the year by beating Roger Federer, 7-5, 6-4.

The the 19-year-old Scot built on that success last night with another remarkable performance, conquering fatigue and searing 40C heat to beat Robby Ginepri 7-6, 2-6, 6-4 to earn a place in today's quarter-finals. He will now play the winner of yesterday's night match between Andy Roddick and Juan Ignacio Chela.

Draping cold towels around his neck at the changeovers in an attempt to stay cool, Murray showed extraordinary resilience to beat the world No 18 Ginepri. He took the first-set tie-break after saving two set points at 4-5, but wilted from 2-2 in the second set, losing eight of the next 10 games, only to find a second wind deep into his 13th match in 16 days.

Murray broke back from 30-0 down at 4-3 in the final set to set up a thrilling finale. The first point of the final game summed up Murray's wonderful spirit as he chased a succession of lost causes and then beat Ginepri with a brilliant lob.

Admitting that he was struggling physically, Murray said he was not used to playing so many matches.

"I think that's the toughest match I've played," the Scot said. "I felt a bit ill after the first few games because it was so hot out there. I think it showed that I still have some work to do physically."

Brad Gilbert, Murray's new coach, believes that Murray's physical condition is one of the keys to his future. The Scot's progress has been hindered in the past year by back problems, which have been put down to growing pains, and he struggles to last the distance in matches. Murray himself believes that he is not yet strong enough to win a Grand Slam tournament.

"It may take a few years, but my game is getting there," the Scot said. "With Brad working with me, he's helped a lot. Physically, I'll get stronger. I think I'll have a good chance in a couple of years. To win a Grand Slam you have to be in unbelievable shape and I don't think too many 19-year-olds do win Grand Slams.

"I just think I need to get better physically. I can play five-set matches but playing five-set matches back-to-back is what you have to do in Slams. If I was to win every match in straight sets then, yes, I probably could do it. But if I have a lot of long matches, then I'm probably not strong enough to do it just yet."

Gilbert has already been working on Murray's fitness, with the Scot having to adapt to much earlier starts to his day. He has also been soaking his right hand in a jar of pickle juice to counter blisters.

Next week he will go to Nick Bollettieri's academy in Florida, where he will work with Mark Grabow, one of America's leading conditioning coaches, in preparation for the start of the US Open in 10 days' time. Already at a career-high No 21 in the world rankings, Murray will move up again next week, guaranteeing himself a good seeding in New York.

It is surely no coincidence that one of the best runs of Murray's short career ­ he reached the final in Washington and the semi-finals in Toronto in the previous two weeks ­ has coincided with the appointment of Gilbert, a tactical maestro.

The victory over Federer, in particular, was a triumph of strategy as Murray targeted the Wimbledon champion's weaker backhand side, forcing a series of errors and denying the world No 1 the chance to find any rhythm on the other flank. He won most of the longer rallies, thanks largely to the depth and weight of his shots, regularly went for backhand winners and attacked Federer's second serve. He broke the Swiss seven times.

Murray is no mean tactician himself ­ witness his wonderful dismantling of Andy Roddick at Wimbledon this summer when he was without a coach ­ and on the evidence of this month the partnership with Gilbert has great potential.

"The more he wins, the better position he will be in for seeding at Grand Slam tournaments and moving up the rankings," Gilbert said. " The most important thing when you are 19 is to keep getting better."

* John Lloyd, Britain's new Davis Cup captain, will drop the national No 4 Alex Bogdanovic for the vital Euro-African Zone relegation match against Ukraine next month after his poor performance in the defeat to Israel.

Suggested Topics
News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea