By Jake Davies

  • Andy Murray [2] defeats Lucas Pouille [13] 6-3 6-0
  • Murray takes on Tomas Berdych in the Paris Masters quarter-finals
PARIS, FRANCE – The World No. 1 carousel continues as Andy Murray progresses to the Paris Masters quarter-finals after sweeping Lucas Pouille aside.

 

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Andy Murray [2] defeats Lucas Pouille [13] 6-3 6-0

Murray moved a step closer to a fifth Masters 1000 final of 2016 by beating Pouille with the loss of just three games in the third round of the Paris Masters. This win is the 17th match he has won in a row following his haul of three consecutive titles in Beijing, Shanghai and Vienna, and he looks considerably difficult to stop on the indoor surface in Paris.

It was important to get off to a good start against the dangerous, big-hitting Pouille and the Brit did just that by breaking the Frenchman in his first service game. A ferocious, dipping forehand landed at the feet of the 22-year-old and Murray took the first break of the match.

Just like their previous encounters, the Frenchman tried to shorten the points and ensure that the match would be decided on his own terms. He did just that in their last match at the Shanghai Masters, but lacked the execution and conviction to topple Murray with that exact tactic. Pouille recovered the break, but a Murray forehand passing shot winner guided past the stranded Frenchman was enough to send Murray back in the lead, who eventually took the first set 6-3, and continued his rampant form in this particular match up.

The World No. 2 did not let up in the second set either. It was almost as if Murray realised that he could not afford to become complacent like he did in the match in the previous round against Fernando Verdasco. The Brit kept his foot on the pedal and capitalised on the second serve of his opponent to take an early break in the second set.  The shoulders of Pouille began to slump as he recognised that Murray was too tough a challenge. Pouille just cannot find the winning formula in this head-to-head.

A relentless, unforgiving Murray handed Pouille a bagel set and marked his territory on this year’s Paris Masters event as he looks to put more pressure on Novak Djokovic, who is trying to keep a tight grip on the World No.1 ranking this week.

 

Andy Murray [2] vs Tomas Berdych [7] – H2H: Murray leads 9-6

Murray will play seventh seed Berdych in the quarter-final of the Paris Masters. Berdych has just dropped outside of the Top 10 of the ATP rankings for the first time since June 2010. He is a model of consistency and has shown that throughout his great career, which includes a major grand slam final and great scalps over the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at Grand Slam level. One thing that has set Berdych back is being able to trouble and bother the greatest players in the world on a regular basis and when it matters most. His last win against Murray came in Cincinnati in 2013, since then Murray has won 5 matches in a row against the Czech and his stats against the rest of the Big 4 flatters to deceive, particularly in the last few years.

The match will be won and lost in the showdown between Berdych’s second serve and Murray’s great return game. You have to believe that Murray will get a lot of joy in that particular tussle, so it could force Berdych to push the boundaries and go for a bit more on his second serve delivery.

Another question that will be answered is whether Berdych believes in his ability to compete from the baseline like he would against the majority of players, or whether he will mix things up and direct traffic at the net. That is the great thing about watching and following Murray is that he encourages his opponents to do things that they might not be comfortable with in order to get the victory.

Murray should come through this match quite easily. Berdych has a lot of mental baggage against the top players in the world and I do not see that changing.

Prediction: Murray in two sets.

 

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