Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Perfect Chance for Murray to Prove He Is the Best of the Best; British No1 Looks Well Placed to Go All the Way in Season Finale as the Cream of Men's Tennis Do Battle at the O2 Arena

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Perfect Chance for Murray to Prove He Is the Best of the Best; British No1 Looks Well Placed to Go All the Way in Season Finale as the Cream of Men's Tennis Do Battle at the O2 Arena

Article excerpt

Byline: Matthew Norman

ANYONE perplexed as to why men's tennis has never been stronger than today may have found a clue when the ATP World Tour finals came to town yesterday.

Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro are merely the fourth and fifth finest players in the world, the rankings computer assures us. Yet it would be no surprise or anti-climax to find them paired in a grand slam final, because between them and the trio above there is virtually nothing to choose. Perm any two from Murray, Del Potro, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, and you have a potential classic.

This opener was not one of those, in truth, largely because this round-robin format draws the venom from group matches, but it did offer the chance to gauge how the Argentine is coping with his US Open triumph. Very averagely indeed would seem the answer.

That September night, he trailed two sets to one before blowing the Fed out of the water with the most destructive missile known to tennis -- that flat forehand that targets the ball at the lines at breathtaking speed.

The problem for the Lurch lookalike, Earth's oldest-looking 21 year old, is that young chaps need recovery time after winning that first major.

Even Pete Sampras and the Fed vanished for a bit, while only now, almost two years after his Australian Open breakthrough, has Djokovic recovered top form. Achieving an ambition cherished and nurtured since almost infancy is a very tough thing to handle.

Murray's psychological problem is, of course, the opposite. He has been unlucky in Grand Slams, continually meeting players in the form of their lives. But the longer he goes without breaking his duck, the more crushing the weight of expectation becomes.

This event is not a major, but with the leading eight players of 2009 gathered -- seven, anyway, with Robin Soderling replacing the injured Andy Roddick -- it comes next in prestige and ranking points, and Murray has an excellent chance.

After this defeat, Del Potro has virtually none. Short of court time since the US Open, and struggling to adjust to megastar status, his concentration waned at either end of this match and no one can afford such laxity against Murray. …

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