By Jake Davies

  • Andy Murray [1] defeats Lucas Pouille [13] 6-1 6-3
  • Murray’s impressive record vs French players continues
  • Next up is David Goffin [11]
SHANGHAI, CHINA – Andy Murray was in scintillating form as he breezed past Lucas Pouille to make the Shangahi Masters quarter-final.

 

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Andy Murray [1] defeats Lucas Pouille [13] 6-1 6-3

Murray’s complete dominance over Pouille continued with a tremendously dominant performance today at the Shanghai Masters. The two-time Olympic champion already had a win against Pouille from earlier this year, which was also a comfortable showing in the semi-finals of the Rome Masters.

The quality of the lob of the Briton was clear to see from the start of this encounter. Just like vintage Murray, he continuously forced Pouille to play shot after shot in order to give his opponent something to think about. The Frenchman faced break point in the second game of the first set and Murray drew an overhead error out of the 22-year-old – he was beginning to express himself in the early period of the match. It meant trouble for the young Frenchman.

Pouille’s tactic was to regularly cover the net. That was a viable strategy as he recognised he was not going to win this match from the baseline. Murray is one of the best defenders from the baseline in world tennis and his superior athleticism would come into play if Pouille tried to outplay the second seed from the baseline.

The problem for Pouille was the execution of his game plan. Murray has one of the best lob shots in the history of professional tennis and he demonstrated that whenever Pouille rushed forward into the forecourt. The World No. 2 commanded the first set, dropping just the one game.

Murray stretched his winning run against French players to 19 matches in a row – his last loss to a French player came to Gilles Simon at Rotterdam in 2015.

The form that Murray showed in the first set rolled into the second as he had his way with a player much less experienced that him at this level. The major factor that set the two apart was the Brit’s familiarity with playing outside his comfort zone in order to get match victories under his belt, whereas when Pouille moves away from his usual game plan, he does not feel comfortable with the instructions being drilled into him.

A win with just four games dropped is exactly what the doctor ordered with sterner tests awaiting Murray in the latter stages of the tournament.

 

Andy Murray [2] vs David Goffin [11] – H2H: Murray leads 4-0

The next opponent that stands in front of Murray and a third Shanghai title is the diminutive Goffin. The Belgian is someone that Murray has enjoyed fantastic success against in the past with the Brit winning every single set that they have played against each other.

The most one-sided of the previous meetings was in Paris Masters of last year. It was a dress rehearsal for the upcoming Davis Cup final where Murray completely annihilated Goffin by winning twelve of the thirteen games. The match that most British fans will recall is the match where Murray beat Goffin to win the Davis Cup trophy for Great Britain – the first Davis Cup triumph in 79 years.

The Belgian No.1 likes to play the ball on the rise and take time from his opponent. He may not have the greatest of powers behind his groundstrokes, but his ability to give his counterparts less time to think between shots.

Goffin is just outside the qualifying spots of the Race for London at No.10, but an unlikely victory over Murray in Shanghai could change his mindset leading into other big tournaments coming up.

Murray, who has already safely qualified for London, should have the physical edge over Goffin tomorrow and take advantage of the fact that he will not be pushing Murray behind the baseline. The match is the Brit’s to lose because of the additional power he can generate in comparison to the Belgian.

Prediction: Murray in two sets.

 

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