By Ann Liguori
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What’s it like returning a 140 mile per hour serve? Ask Andy Murray, the 4th seed from Scotland who was able to get through the torpedo-serving John Isner 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, (7 points to 2 in that fourth set tie-breaker).
After the match, Murray said it was frustrating because as well as he played, it’s nearly impossible to do anything with a serve that has that much power. But Murray found his spots, and was able to prevail against the 26-year-old American, with one of the fastest serves in the game. (The fastest serve ever recorded here was Andy Roddick’s 152 mph during the 2004 US Open).
In Friday’s quarter-final match, Isner came out a bit sluggish, perhaps from his fourth round, four set marathon win against 12th seed Gilles Simon, the day before with three sets that went into tie-breakers.
But then when the 6’9” giant picked up his game, cut down on mistakes and grabbed the third set, he made it a match and three hours and some change later, Isner had forced the fourth set into a tie-breaker only to fall when Murray dominated the tie-breaker. Isner tightened up and gave away several points when he netted a shot and hit a few others out.
So Andy Murray advanced to his 4th straight Grand Slam semi- final this season, but his first semifinal here since 2008. The 24-year-old Scotsman is having his best Grand Slam season ever with a runner-up finish at the Australian Open, losing to Novak Djokovic, his first semifinal at the French Open where he lost to Nadal and again losing to Nadal, in the semifinals at Wimbledon.
I realize that the stats say that Murray beat the top-ranked Djokovic on hard courts in the finals at Cincinnati. But keep in mind that Djokovic retired from that match with a shoulder injury.
So why then hasn’t Andy Murray, with all of his talent, won a Major? He needs to play more aggressive earlier in his matches, gain an edge earlier. Murray is notoriously slower to start and he has not been able to get out of the blocks sharp enough to beat the big three — Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in the Majors. Could this be the year? Don’t think so. As badly as Murray wants to win a Major, and as well as Murray has been playing, the big three are playing too well. I think Murray will be denied again.
How will the rest of the tournament play out? Leave a comment below.