Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Now Is the Time for Gilbert to Live Up to His Lofty Reputation

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Now Is the Time for Gilbert to Live Up to His Lofty Reputation

Article excerpt


BRAD GILBERT is facing the biggest challenge of his short tenure as Andy Murray's new coach today, with the 19-year-old Scot in real danger of losing his rain-interrupted US Open fourth-round clash with Russian Nikolay Davydenko.

Murray should have been leading when the rain arrived but a sloppy third set saw him pick up his kit bag and head to the locker room trailing the seventh seed 1-6, 7-5, 3-6.

It was the last action seen on court as heavy rain wiped out the rest of the day's play, forcing tournament organisers to play catch-up over the next two days.

At least the overnight break has allowed Gilbert to debrief Murray about a tactical plan that only partially worked against Davydenko, who should have been broken twice by Murray in that third set.

Gilbert has worked his magic in similar, sometimes even more desperate, circumstances. During the 1999 French Open final, for example, he made use of a 25-minute rain delay at the start of the second set to change Andre Agassi's tactics in the locker room.

The American icon had lost the first set of the final but, thanks to Gilbert's advice, he eventually won in five sets against Andrei Medvedev to complete his grand slam of major titles.

When the predicted early-morning rain clears later on today, Murray will have to claim the remaining two sets to register his 50th win on the main tour and become the youngest player in the quarterfinals this year.

If that isn't motivation enough, Gilbert also has another carrot to dangle in front of his young charge.

He said: "Andy has yet to play in Arthur Ashe Stadium (the centre court) and I told him if you win enough matches you will get to play in the big house."

Murray's clash with Davydenko is taking place on the Louis Armstrong Court - the No2 arena at Flushing Meadows - and it witnessed a strangely low key opening by the British No1 whose normally reliable back hand repeatedly misfired in the first set.

In typical Murray fashion, he fought back strongly to take the second set by staying in the rallies and waiting for the Russian to make unforced errors. …

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