Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Slammed Andy's Looking for Answers; Heading Out: Andy Murray Stretches to Return Another Powerful Shot from 14th Seed Fernando Verdasco. the Spaniard Celebrates at the End While the Scot Can Only Look Forward to the Next Grand Slam, in Paris This Summer

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Slammed Andy's Looking for Answers; Heading Out: Andy Murray Stretches to Return Another Powerful Shot from 14th Seed Fernando Verdasco. the Spaniard Celebrates at the End While the Scot Can Only Look Forward to the Next Grand Slam, in Paris This Summer

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRIS JONES

ANDY MURRAY arrived at the Australian Open in the form of his life. Unbeaten, the world No4 was the bookies' favourite to win a first Grand Slam and his closest rivals were very publicly irritated by this unprecedented attention for a British player away from Wimbledon.

Having retained his Doha title a week before the Open, Murray looked and sounded like the real deal which makes his fourth-round loss to Fernando Verdasco even tougher to take.

While the Scot refused to blame recent illness for his 2-6, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 defeat the evidence of poor health was there for all to see in the form of a cold sore at the side of his mouth.

To battle it out with the Spanish lefthander for three hours and 12 minutes when less than fully fit was a brave effort by Murray but it could damage his tennis in the coming weeks.

Murray built up wonderful momentum with those 11 successive wins in 2009 and was playing with a freedom and potency that not even Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer, the world's top two, could deal with.

Now, he will turn up for his next tournament in Rotterdam on 9 February as the highest seed ejected from the Australian Open before the quarter-finals and with this month's unbeaten run firmly consigned to the record books.

For Murray, the big question is: has he hit the buffers or merely taken a minor detour on the way to a first Grand Slam title? Patently, one defeat against the world No14 is hardly a crisis for Murray but he knows his coach and trainers need to instigate a clinical dissection of why he came up short here.

He said: "I will speak to my coach, the guys that I work with, and see if there's things that I could have done better, things that I can improve.

"For me, it's not a disaster. I'm still playing well and I lost to a good player in a very close match. I will have more chances to win Grand Slams." It is important Team Murray now examine how much work the 21-year-old did during a very testing three weeks training in Miami in December, which saw him put on an extra six pounds of muscle while undertaking lung-busting 400metre repetition runs on the track.

Murray spent Christmas at home before appearing in the lucrative Abu Dhabi exhibition event and then successfully defended his Doha title before finishing his Open preparations with a week practising on the baking hot Melbourne courts.

Did Murray's physical exertions make him susceptible to the flu-like virus that undermined his cause today? Was it the same problem that earlier left 13th seed Victoria Azarenko staggering around the baseline before defaulting against Serena Williams? If Murray was left open to infection, then coach Miles Maclagen and the fitness guys will have to seriously consider amending the amount of work they ask Murray to do in what is a ridiculously short break between seasons. …

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