Andy Murray avenges Monte Carlo loss to Ramos-Vinolas, faces Thiem in semi-final.

 

By Jake Davies

  • Andy Murray [1] defeats Albert Ramos-Vinolas 2-6 6-4 7-6 (4)
  • Andy Murray [1] vs Dominic Thiem [4]
  • Aljaz Bedene continues imperious form on the clay by making Hungarian Open semi-finals
BARCELONA & BUDAPEST – British men are still flying the flag this week as Andy Murray finally battled past Albert Ramos-Vinolas, while Aljaz Bedene continues his hot streak in Budapest

 

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Andy Murray [1] defeats Albert Ramos-Vinolas [10] 2-6 6-4 7-6 (4)

Clay is an unforgiving surface that takes no prisoners. It requires the greatest of concentration and application throughout, which is something Andy Murray was lacking in large periods of his quarter-final match against Albert Ramos-Vinolas in Barcelona.

In the first set, Murray was incredibly erratic. He committed a total of 21 unforced errors as most of the wayward shots came from his forehand side. Another issue for Murray in the first set was his inability to defend his second serve particularly well. That single shot has been an achilles heel for long portions of Murray’s career and that was evident in this match-up.

During the second set, there was a big difference in Murray’s court positioning. He was taking points into his own hands and converted nine of ten rushes to the net, which was a massive improvement from his movement in the opening set.

Ramos-Vinolas continued to fire lethal forehand after forehand winner and played high-risk tennis. He was regularly finding the forehand down the line, which is very risky play, but it is the right tactic to utilise when playing the very best players.

There was not much between either player, much like there meeting in Monte Carlo, but this time Murray would find a way to win by winning ugly. Murray lives to fight another day in the most miraculous of circumstances and will play in another clay court semi-final tomorrow.

 

Andy Murray [1] vs Dominic Thiem [4] H2H: Murray leads 2-0

Murray’s next challenge is a former Roland Garros semi-finalist Dominic Thiem. The Austrian has tested the World No.1 in the past. One of the first serious signs of Thiem becoming a very talented prospect was actually against Murray in the 2014 Rotterdam tournament, where he took a set but would go on to lose in three sets.

Thiem’s favourite surface is the red clay and that is where he gets his better results, whereas Murray would prefer this match-up on a hard court, even with his undeniable progress and improvement on the clay.

Throughout the week in Barcelona, Thiem has adopted the backhand slice quite often as he attempts to keep the ball nice and low by forcing his opponent to hit up on the ball. This makes it increasingly more difficult to be the aggressor. If Thiem chooses the same tactic against Murray then the World No.1 will have to find ways to move forward and take the slower ball out of the air, which will give the Austrian something different to think about.

The main battle will lie in Murray’s return game. Thiem is capable of changing the pace on his serve and has a beautiful kick serve, so Thiem really has to vary his serves as a way of becoming less predictable against one of the best returners in Men’s tennis.

Thiem is in great form, but Murray is known for being one of the best problem-solvers on a tennis court and I can see the World No.1 solving another complicated puzzle in the semi-final.

Prediction: Murray in three sets.

 

Aljaz Bedene defeats Ivo Karlovic [2] 6-4 6-3

British No.4 Aljaz Bedene has now started to transfer great Challenger wins to impressive wins on the ATP tour. He beat the big-serving and second seeded Ivo Karlovic in straight sets and progresses to the Hungarian Open semi-finals, where he will play Serbia’s Laslo Djere. A great opportunity for both players who will be bidding for a first ATP final in their respective careers.

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