Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Murray: Longer Matches Give Me a Better Chance; TENNIS

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Murray: Longer Matches Give Me a Better Chance; TENNIS

Article excerpt

ANDY Murray hopes the grand slam format can help him rediscover top form at the French Open. The world number one arrived in Paris with shaky confidence after just four wins during the clay-court season but found reason for optimism in a four-set win over Andrey Kuznetsov in the first round.

Murray's struggles were all too evident in a difficult second set but he took control early in the third and did not look back, winning the final eight games.

Had the third set been the decider, things might have ended differently, but the extra leeway afforded by best-of-five sets gave Murray a chance to find his rhythm.

The longer format has been held up as a key reason behind the dominance of the big four of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and, to a lesser extent, Murray at the slams.

The Scot said: "It does help a little bit, because at least if you don't start the match well you've got a bit of time to work it out and adjust to the conditions a little bit. That's one of the advantages of the best of five.

"So maybe at the beginning of the match, if you're coming in with not too many matches, you feel slightly less pressure than you might do if it was best of three.

"Because if you get down a set quick, there's not lots of wiggle room there. You've got to turn it around quick. Maybe that helped me a little bit (against Kuznetsov)."

Murray's mind also tends to be focused by the presence of Ivan Lendl in his box, but he has been usurped in the super coach stakes this tournament by Djokovic's recruitment of Andre Agassi.

Djokovic has managed to lure the eight-time grand slam champion into the coaching ranks for the first time, although he is only able to be in Paris this week.

Agassi's return may not be the best news for Murray if he can inspire Djokovic back to his extraordinary heights, but the Scot is delighted to see his former childhood hero around the game again. "I loved watching him play when I was a kid," said Murray. …

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