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Thursday, September 6, 2012

US Open 2012: Murray Versus Berdych - Preview

Andy Murray takes on Tomas Berdych in the semi-finals on Friday, the 7th September. They have met six times before and Berdych leads the series 4-2. Berdych got over Roger Federer in a stunning upset in the quarter-finals in four sets. Murray struggled a bit against Marin Cilic and came from behind to prevail in four sets. Murray has been a finalist in 2008 whereas Berdych’s best result previously has been the round of sixteen. They have split results this year in the two meetings, Berdych on Monte Carlo clay and Murray on Dubai hard courts.

Berdych will continue with his game from the last match where his powerful shots ripped through Federer’s defence. His serve was extra-ordinary, except in the third set. However, the effect of these two weapons will be blunted to some extent since Murray tends to make longer rallies and does not commit as many mistakes as a misfiring Federer does. Murray handled the powerful serves of Milos Raonic in the fourth round without much difficulty.  His own serve was good against Raonic but not so good against Marin Cilic. Both of them find first serve difficult to come by when pressure mounts.

Berdych is better in offence but in difficult times tends to become a ball basher. Murray is better in defence but becomes extra defensive when facing break points. In olden times, he was sometimes accused of becoming a pusher when trying to save the match. Today’s Murray is more tenacious, something that can dent the confidence of Berdych who becomes tight when victory looks nearer. This happened in the previous match too when he failed to serve out the second set at 5-2 against Federer. In the third set, he had golden opportunity to take the match in straight sets, but committed two double faults in the sixth game to surrender the break of 3-1 and thereafter did not win any game to lose the set. Murray has more variety in his game and is a better mover. His slices and drop shots deny rhythm to the opponent. It is the serve that is not consistent, sometimes falling to just 50% for a long patch. He has to serve at a high percentage since his second serve is considered rather weak. However, he is in good company with Berdych who himself suffers from the same condition. Berdych served at 40% to lose the third set to Federer, but was very good in the other three sets.

Berdych sometimes does not sufficiently bend down when advancing to meet a shorter ball and hits the tape with his forehand. Murray too has a tendency to net the forehand, especially the inside out one. His low slices however can pose a bit of problem to Berdych. Berdych is not that graceful in lateral movement and change of direction looks a bit laborious, as can be expected of a tall person. Murray is among the best movers on the circuit.

Berdych is not known to keep the superlative form throughout a Grand Slam major. He has greater prowess in upsetting one top player in one match than to defeat them all in successive matches.  

It will be a fight between Berdych’s aggression and Murray’s tenacity. Berdych can sometimes defeat himself but that is not expected of Murray. If Berdych plays like he did against Federer and Murray plays like he did against Milos Raonic, it could be Murray advancing to the finals.

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