Andy Murray hardly needs reminding these days of the importance of keeping your cool on court, but his third-round opponent in the Paris Masters, Fernando Verdasco, gave the Scot a timely aide-memoire here yesterday.
Neither player had looked in any great trouble until Verdasco, serving at 3-4 and 40-0, reacted with the calm of an enraged Spanish bull after a dubious "out" call on what he had thought was a forehand winner. The world No 17 received a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct and lost the next four points, including a double fault at 40-30 as he went for a big second serve. It was the only break of serve in the match, which Murray won 6-3, 7-6.
With the ball flying off the lightning-fast surface of the Palais Omnisports' second court – for most of the year it is used, appropriately enough, as an ice-rink – the match was always likely to turn on a few key points. Verdasco, who did not get beyond 30 on a single Murray service game, led 5-3 in the tie-break, but then put a backhand in the net and missed an easy smash. At 6-6 a double fault handed a second match point to Murray, who converted it when the Spaniard netted a forehand.
The win maintained Murray's superb run of form. The world No 4, who is attempting to become the first player to win three Masters Series tournaments in succession following his victories in Cincinnati and Madrid, has now lost only once in his last 21 matches, to Roger Federer in the US Open final. He has won his last 14 and in his last 12 has dropped only one set, to Federer in the Madrid semi-finals.
In today's quarter-finals Murray meets David Nalbandian, who maintained his traditional autumn form by conceding only four games to Juan Martin del Potro, who has been threatening recently to topple him as Argentinian No 1. Nalbandian, who will have to win this tournament to claim a place alongside Murray and others in the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, has played the Scot only once before, coming back from two sets down to win at Wimbledon three years ago.Reuse content