Murray takes on Johnson in Olympics QF.

By Jake Davies

  • The Men’s QF’s day takes place at the Rio Olympics
  • Andy Murray [2] vs Steve Johnson
  • Murray will also compete in the mixed doubles event.
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Andy Murray set hearts fluttering as he dropped a set to Italy’s Fabio Fognini on the way to the Olympic quarter-final, where he will face USA’s Steve Johnson.

 

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Andy Murray [2] vs Steve Johnson

Murray’s quest for a second singles gold at the Olympics continues as he faces America’s Johnson in the quarter-final of the singles event. Murray coasted through two very comprehensive victories over Viktor Troicki and Juan Monaco respectively. Murray’s third round opponent seemed to provide a much sterner test for the defending Olympic champion, as he forced Murray into a three set encounter.

The Brit would eventually close the match out in the end, but the negative aspects of the British No.1’s game, started to reappear before our very eyes.

Johnson is having a sensational year on the ATP Tour and will be a tricky customer for the defending champion, when they meet in the quarter-finals. Johnson is currently at No.22 in the world and is near to his career high ranking, which he achieved after a very positive grass court season. In that grass season, Johnson won his first ATP title at the event in Nottingham, beating some formidable opponents en route to the final like Kevin Anderson, Vasek Pospisil and Pablo Cuevas.

The challenge for Johnson will be whether he can manage his backhand throughout this match. He is supremely dangerous on his forehand side, but there is a great discrepancy between his forehand and backhand. Over the course of Johnson’s 2016 season, he has improved on his weaker shot, but Murray is great at exposing the weakness of his opponent – making his foe feel as uncomfortable as possible in the heat of the battle.

Another interesting talking point is the Johnson serve. His first serve can hold up when it matters most and has the luxury of a kick serve on his second offering. Can this improved service game withstand one of the best return games in world tennis? Over the years, Murray has thrived in matches where he can force his return game on the bigger servers of the tour. This match is no different.

Murray should prevail in this match for a number of reasons. Firstly, he has less holes in his game than Johnson. If he directs most of the traffic to Johnson’s backhand then he should be able to maintain a stranglehold on most of the rallies.

Secondly, Johnson does not have many layers to his game. Once his main implemented plan does not work then he does not have another tactic to fall back on. Murray has the advantage of playing in a number of ways in order to get the job done.

The defending champion has survived his first major scare of the tournament and I think he will respond in a much more positive way against Johnson.

Prediction: Murray in two sets.

The three-time grand slam winner also features in the mixed-doubles event alongside Heather Watson. Their quarter-final opponents will be Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna – two very good doubles specialists in their own right.

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