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Murray v Verdasco as it happened

Paris Masters

Third-round result:

A MURRAY (GB) v F VERDASCO (Spa)

6-3 7-6

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By Tom Fordyce

Murray 7-6 Verdasco
Another ghost "let" call foxes Murray, and then Verdasco takes the mini-break with a forehand ripper down the line. A big first serve stretches the Spaniard's lead to 4-1, an ace closes the gap, a loose backhand opens it up again. Murray decides to let Verdasc make the errors and sends the ball onto his backhand again and again, and suddenly there's a sea-change - three Murray points on the bounce, all from glaring Fernando errors. Match point - but a creamy, dreamy forehand drive down the line levels us up at 6-6. And then, calamitously, Verdasco double-faults! Murray serves for the match and yet another backhand error gifts him the tie.

The streak continues - 14 consecutive wins for Murray now, with David Nalbandian up next in Friday's quarter-final. He was never at his best, but his reputation did half the damage. The record-breaking three-Masters-in-a-row dream lives on...

Murray 6-6 Verdasco
Verdasco suddenly decides to chip and charge off his backhand, which is as successful a tactic as holding his racquet between his toes. He then spoons another backhand three feet out - and after a set without break-points, we're into the tie-break.

Murray 5-6 Verdasco
First bit of momentum now for Verdasco as Murray capitulates a fraction feebly. One game away from the shoot-out.

Murray 5-5 Verdasco
A stream of angry Spanish is aimed at the ceiling from Verdasco as he clatters a forehand long to throw the sniff away. His father Jose watches on court-side, as expressionless as Papa Henman ever was.

Murray 4-5 Verdasco
What do I know? There was a chance there, there was a chance - but Murray is distracted by a rogue "let" from someone in the crowd and flays his backhand into the net at 30-40. Big sighs of relief from Verdasco, and Murray must now hold to stay alive in the set.

Murray 4-4 Verdasco
Easy-peas once again for Murray - the game's pouched in the time it takes to type this sentence and re-check it for basic grammatical errors before publishing.

Murray 3-4 Verdasco
No sniff of a break point, let alone a break. At this rate we're heading for tie-break o'clock.

Murray 3-3 Verdasco
Big beefed-up serving from Murray, one of the key improvements he's made in the last six months. A thumper off a second serve is too meaty for the man across the tape and a boomer off his first sets up a simple forehand put-away.

Murray 2-3 Verdasco
Strange old kick off the court for a Verdasco serve, sending it spitting at Murray's nose like a Curtly Ambrose bouncer. But next up comes his best point of the match - a drilled-deep forehand approach followed by a stretching backhand volley into the distant reaches of the court's corner.

Murray 2-2 Verdasco
That knee looks like nothing more than a one-off tweak - Murray breezes through one of the easiest service games of his life, with two big first serves and two dismissive forehands.

Murray 1-2 Verdasco
Uh-oh - Murray clutches his knee after stretching for a forehand whipper. He carries on after a showy grimace but Verdas takes advantage to rattle through two thumping first serves and get his head a little straighter.

Murray 1-1 Verdasco
First glance of Kim Sears court-side, her face veiled by that big ole wig of hair. Her beau races through another service game as Verdasco slashes a forehand wide and roars at the rafters.

Murray 0-1 Verdasco
Murray narrows his eyes and gives the Verdasco serve both barrels. The Spaniard's punchy forehand pulls him out of trouble at deuce before a lucky net-corder leaves Murray stranded beyond the baseline. Atmos still as feisty as a village library on a wet Wednesday afternoon.

FIRST SET

Murray 6-3 Verdasco
'Oopla - a stray swearword from Murray as he slips to 0-30, but the steeliness shows through as he canters through the rest of the points. That's the first set in the bag, and Verdasco's glower could melt steel walls.

Murray 5-3 Verdasco
First bit of drama as Verdasco rages at a line call at 40-0. "Are you blind?" he asks the umpire, and finds himself shipping a warning as a result. Mess with the man in the stilted chair at your peril. The wheels then threaten to come off as he nets under no pressure and then double-faults, and when a lashed forehand goes wide Murray has his first break point. A fifth error in a row puts it in the bag, and steam sizzles out of Verdasco's ears.

Murray 4-3 Verdasco
Bish bosh wallop - Murray crashes in two aces in a row after his first double, and his nose is in front with serve once again.

Murray 3-3 Verdasco
Super backhand winner from Murray, stepping in to one a fraction short and drilling it cross-court past the flailing Fernando. It's not enough to threaten a breaker, though, as Verdasco comes in to thrash away at the tape.

Murray 3-2 Verdasco
Murray starting to build the points in his patient, probing way. Leftie Verdasco doesn't seem to have much of a plan except to stay in the point, and against a scamperer as brisk as Murray, that's no-one's idea of clever.

Murray 2-2 Verdasco
Quite pacy, this court, for an indoor track - certainly quicker than Centre, where J-W Tsonga has just blown again Djokovic. Verdasco gets his forehand oiled and moves Murray around nicely until he draws the mis-hit.

Murray 2-1 Verdasco
Not a great deal of atmos out there at the moment - there's almost as many line-judges as there are punters. Crisp serving again from the Scot, and he goes to his chair with barely a bead on his brow.

Murray 1-1 Verdasco
Verdasco, who posed naked for Cosmo earlier this year, keeps his decency with a brisk hold of his own serve. Wearing a lime-green shocker of shirt, the Spaniard - reminiscent of the Borussia Dortmund away kit from the late 1990s.

Murray 1-0 Verdasco
Rock-solid start from the grey-shirted Murray - a hold with few dramas. Not sure about this court though - they might as well have stuck them in the car-park.

1510 GMT: So then - it's Tennis's Most In-Form Man to the court once aga - actually, that's no sort of new nickname for Murray. The Murray Machine? The Kilted Crusader?



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see also
Coming of age
28 Oct 08 |  Tennis
Murray begins strongly in Paris
30 Oct 08 |  Tennis


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