Murray ready for rapid renewal of Henman rivalry
Monday 14 August 2006
Andy Murray believes a well-drilled Tim Henman will provide a stern test of his ability after a week in Canada which has taken the Scot close to joining the world's top 20.
The British pair will go head to head for the second time in a week at the Masters Series event in Cincinnati, and while Murray won their meeting in Toronto en route to the semi-finals, it has allowed Henman the chance to reflect on what went wrong.
Murray, who lost, 6-2, 7-5 to the Frenchman Richard Gasquet on Saturday, said, "If you look at my preparation for Cincinnati compared with Tim's, I would probably say he has been there for three, four days, practised on the courts, had a few days to work on things. He probably saw the draw on Friday and will have been able to speak to his coach and do the things in practice that he wants to do against me. His preparation will probably be a little bit better," Murray predicted. "I'm sure he'll change a few things when I play him next week."
Murray made it 2-0 in his head-to-head record against Henman with last week's 6-2, 7-6 win and knows he faces a difficult job in adjusting to the difference in styles between Gasquet and Henman.
"The way Tim plays is tough to play against," Murray said. "You don't see it too often nowadays. [It will be a] completely different match to Gasquet.
"Tim plays really flat, whereas Gasquet plays with a lot of spin, plays from the baseline. Tim will be pretty close to the baseline and trying to come into the net as much as possible. It's going to be a tough match."
The excellence of the Gasquet serve and the lack of consistency in Murray's characterised the semi-final at the Rogers Cup Masters Series event in Toronto. He lost the first set 6-2 but began to settle and the match went with serve before the Scot found himself serving to stay in the contest at 5-4 down, which he accomplished with efficiency.
He was in the same position at 6-5 down and a wild shot sent wide gave Gasquet two match points, which he took with some aplomb with a perfect passing shot.
In the final last night, the Frenchman gave Roger Federer a rare wobble but the Swiss maestro was able to regroup and defeat the gutsy Gasquet 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.
The world No 1 marked his 17th straight final by making exactly that number of unforced errors in losing the first set. He began to find his form in the second under constant pressure from Gasquet, who blazed winners from all areas. The key moment came at 2-2 in the decider, when a sublime dipping pass set up Federer's breakthrough. The longest rally of the match followed, which Federer won to go 40-15 up, before Gasquet lost his concentration and netted to surrender the game.
Up to that point Gasquet had been arguably the better player. Unthinkably, Federer lost the battle of forehands, smashing too many wide. But, in the tradition of great champions, he found a way to survive the onslaught and lift his 40th career title.
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