Check Out The Draw Here: ATP World Tour Finals 2012 Draw
Day 6 of my World Tour Finals preview takes a look at the year of Andy Murray. The Scot has finally broke his slam hoodoo in what has been a great year for him. Roger Federer’s “struggling” and the level of play from him post-Wimbledon and have seen some patriotic journalists suggest he is more deserving of the No.1 spot. It most definitely is an overreaction as he needs to cut out silly losses but for the first time, the belief that he could put together a consistent enough next season to do so is there.
Titles: Brisbane (Hard), Olympic Games (Grass), US Open (Hard)
In what would prove to be a shrewd move, at the start of the year Murray would hire a new coach in Ivan Lendl. He took the title in Brisbane after defeating Alexandr Dolgopolov and Bernard Tomic along the way. Full of confidence, the Scot blitzed through the early sections of the draw. After losing the opening set of the tournament to Ryan Harrison, he would not drop more than four games in any set until the semi final. While eventually losing to Novak Djokovic in five sets, it would give him more belief he could compete with the top three players when it came to five set matches. Murray had held a 2-1 lead in sets and also two break points late in the fifth set before succumbing to defeat.
A month off after Australia didn’t seem to affect him going into Dubai. Tomas Berdych and Novak Djokovic were both comfortably defeated in straight sets (incidentally, both 6-2 7-5) on a run to the final. However, an inspired Roger Federer would await in the final and he would lose 7-5 6-4. Well known for shock losses in the past, Murray would see another the next week at Indian Wells against the Spaniard Guillermo Garcia Lopez in his opening match of the tournament. He bounced back in Miami, making the final but once more Novak Djokovic would get the better of him as he defended his title with a 6-1 7-6 victory.
The clay would be somewhat of a disaster with Murray failing to justify his seeding at any of the tournaments. Defeats in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome to Tomas Berdych, Milos Raonic and Richard Gasquet all before the semi finals would be a disappointing preparation going into the second slam of the year. Injuries plagued him throughout the French Open, although many felt that he was using the niggles to his advantage with both Richard Gasquet and Jarkko Nieminen dominating first sets before suddenly finding themselves struggling mentally. His tournament would end at the quarter finals stage thanks to an accomplished performance from David Ferrer in four sets.
His troubles carried on to the grass as he opened up against Nicolas Mahut and would lose in three sets at Queens. At this point in time, it would have been hard to predict what would come next. Wimbledon saw Murray make the final for the first time, and became the first British man in 74 years to do so. Although helped a great deal by the loss of Rafael Nadal, he navigated a tricky route to get there as David Ferrer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga were defeated back to back in four sets each. He won his first set in the final and looked the better player for the best part of two sets before the weather struck. The break and indoor conditions helped Roger Federer more and he would go on to take No. 17 in four sets.
Murray would have a second chance for glory at Wimbledon this year in the form of the London Olympics. Only Marcos Baghdatis took a set in the early rounds where also Jarkko Nieminen, Stanislas Wawrinka and Nicolas Almagro were defeated. The Almagro victory guaranteed him the chance of a medal match but which it would be was decided on the outcome of his semi final against Novak Djokovic. He would not be broken once in the whole match against the Serb to move into the final. The best of five final gave Murray another chance to show he deserves to be part of a “Big 4” and he sure did so, dismantling Roger Federer in three sets for the loss of just seven games in an extremely impressive performance to take home a gold medal. He also teamed up with Laura Robson in the Mixed Doubles, making it all the way to the final but losing in a match tie break.
Injuries continued to bother him going to the North American swing, first withdrawing from Toronto and losing his Cincinnati trophy early, with Jeremy Chardy earning a straight sets victory. Murray was far from convincing in the middling rounds with Marin Cilic and Feliciano Lopez giving him more trouble than expected, however he could rely on both buckling under the pressure when on top – especially Cilic who had served for a two set lead. A windy semi final saw Murray recover from a set down against Tomas Berdych to make his second final in succession, who was unsettled by the conditions once Murray had settled down and began to draw countless errors from the Czech.
In an epic encounter spanning over four hours, Murray’s years of hard work would finally pay off in the form of his first grand slam title defeating Novak Djokovic in five sets. It would not be as straight forward as he hoped, especially considering he held a two set lead. A resurgent Djokovic took advantage to force the decider, as the momentum seemed to dictate there would be only one winner. However, being broken for the set probably benefitted Murray at a time when his serve wasn’t working. It allowed him to concentrate on the return game to start with and with an early break all the confidence had returned. From then on, he was rarely in trouble and a 6-2 final set victory would be the ending of a great tournamment.
A month off allowed him to prepare for Asia, where he had finished well last year and had took the title in both Tokyo and Shanghai. He would be able to defend neither, losing to Milos Raonic in Tokyo while Novak Djokovic would be victorious in the Shanghai final. More disappointingly would be though, that Murray held match points in both these matches. He would exit in Paris to an inspired Jerzy Janowicz in similar circumstances, having served for the match.