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Page last updated at 15:06 GMT, Friday, 31 October 2008

Murray v Nalbandian as it happened

Paris Masters

Quarter final result:

D NALBANDIAN (Arg) beats A MURRAY (GB)

7-6 6-3

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By Chris Whyatt

1505: That's entertainment. Great match and the better player on the day won. Though he's a proud man, I don't think Murray will lose too much sleep over that one. In fact, I think he will be looking forward to some well-deserved rest.

Breaking news elsewhere from Paris: Roger Federer has withdrawn from his impending quarter-final with James Blake due to a back injury. Check our site for more details soon. That's all folks, thanks as ever for your company. Au revoir.

Murray 3-6 Nalbandian
Sweat is teeming off the high Murray forehead but he's scrapping like bar-room brawler. Some nice serves but Nalbandian is hugely capable with these backhand volleys you know, most of them wrong-footing Andy. Match point for Nalbandian after a brilliant rally... which he takes superbly. Murray's 14-match winning streak is over.

Murray 3-5 Nalbandian
Stubborn, Andy. Very stubborn. Nalbandian fluffs his lines and Murray runs hard to make hay, earning himself three break points. The Argentine saves one with a lucky net cord... Murray wastes the second... but he breaks back on the third! He's still in it people.

Murray 2-5 Nalbandian
Murray batters down his 10th ace to save the first of two break points but, springing into the air like a Russian ballet dancer, Nalbandian sends a high backhand into the empty space which the Scot cannot reach to take a second break. Murray is clinging onto the cliffs with his fingertips.

Murray 2-4 Nalbandian
Murray's decision-making is failing him here and fatigue must be a factor. Nalbandian takes that game to 30 and the British number one must hold his serve here to realistically cling on.

Murray 2-3 Nalbandian
Nalbanian stays calm to earn himself a contentious break point but Murray The Brave saves. He then flaps the most ridiculously weak forehand into the net but there's a suggestion of discomfort in his right knee, upon which the pressure of his body weight was resting. But, with Murray raging at some invisible injustice, Nalbandian takes the break.

Murray 2-2 Nalbandian
Riled yet more relaxed, Murray earns a double-break point through a mixture of Nalbandian's errors and his own bloody-mindedness. Stretching every sinew, the Scot pulls a brilliant running forehand out of the bag from deep to take the game and break back.

Murray 1-2 Nalbandian
Yet that's an easy hold for Murray there as, poker-faced, he races through that service game 40-15. Girlfriend Kim Sears looks on a little anxiously.

Murray 0-2 Nalbandian
The crowd erupts as Nalbandian takes a 20-plus stroke rally with a vicious forehand down the line. Wow. The Argentine really is superior to anything Murray can produce right now. Is it the time to suggest that the wee Scot maybe a little jaded after all his recent exploits?

Murray 0-1 Nalbandian
Nalbandian's got some real power on his groundstrokes. A super backhand and a walloping double-handed backhand, preceded by a momentum-giving little kick into the air, earn the Argentine a break point. Murray saves. Nalbandian earns another. Murray... fluffs a backhand into the net to let Nalbandian break. You don't need me to tell you who's on top here.

1417: "It's all very well Dave being one of the most talented players of his generation, but it's another thing utilising that talent into winning multiple honours. Murray is arguably less talented but is making more out of what he has to acheive greater things." chumbawumba2 on 606

FIRST SET

Murray 6-7 Nalbandian
Couple of Murray errors and ANOTHER superb, chopped Nalbandian drop-shot sees the Argentine race to 4-1 but he fails to turn the screw on the Scot as a loose forehand flies towards the crowd. Yet David makes it to 5-2 with two serves in the locker... four set points. Murray saves one with a clean backhand return, but Nalbandian races to the net to hook a meaty forehand past the Scot for the set.

Murray 6-6 Nalbandian
Time seemed to stand still there as each player exchanged about 15 consecutive backhands in one spin-fuelled rally, from which Murray emerged the winner. Easy hold for the Scot and we have a tie-break.

Murray 5-6 Nalbandian
Featherweight backhanded pick-up from Nabandian floats into the net to put Murray 30-15 up. Poor. But the Argentine is nothing if not mercurial and, using his lucid ground strokes to good effect, he takes the game. Showing signs of frustration, Murray must now serve to stay in the set.

Murray 5-5 Nalbandian
Cocking the arm back, Murray executes a brilliant running forehand to go 30-0 up. And then takes the service game to love. Efficient.

Murray 4-5 Nalbandian
Murray's Scottish bones make a sharp crack on the hard surface as he slips at 30-15 down but, fear not, he's okay. Easy hold for Nalbandian in what must be the quickest game of this enjoyable first Paris Masters quarter final.

Murray 4-4 Nalbandian
Cute from Nalbandian as, sending Murray scrambling east, he feigns a cross-court pass but sends a short backhand down the line in the opposite direction. Murray falls 30-0 down but, (mentally) strong as an ox, brings things level. Nalbandian earns a break point with yet another drop though Murray saves. Five cagey deuces but gritty Murray takes it. Cat and mouse.

Murray 3-4 Nalbandian
Captivating stuff from both players as the screech of rubber on concrete echoes out around the silent Paris arena during the evolution of each rally. Fairly easy hold for Nalbandian that, and he has certainly found his range with those ground strokes now.

Murray 3-3 Nalbandian
Like a teenager who's been sent up to his bedroom for causing trouble at the dinner table, Murray lets his shoulders and facial muscles hang loose. Why? Because he cannot get any first serves in, and Nalbandian earns two break points. But, with those, Murray hammers down two, nay three, unreturnable peaches. Nalbandian takes it to deuce again but Murray takes the game. These rallies are becoming chess-like.

Murray 2-3 Nalbandian
With Murray 30-0 up, both players produce a couple of brilliant backhands but Nalbandian takes the point with an athletic pick-up. Great to watch. Murray finds some rhythm and, steadying the ship in the manner of all the best captains, immediately breaks back. And there's the little fist pump.

Murray 1-3 Nalbandian
Murray challenges a baseline call on the first point in vain. Wraps his wrist around a couple of meaty high forehands close to the net to take charge, but that serve really is not ticking yet as he double-faults. Nalbandian, at deuce, plays the most delicious drop to earn a break point... and Murray sends a backhand too long. Hmmm.

Murray 1-2 Nalbandian
Mister Murray takes the first two points as Nalbandian is just too loose with his groundstrokes. But the Argentine pulls his metaphorical socks up to level... and then take the game as the Scot mutters "rubbish, rubbish" under his breath. A minor tremor. Both players take an early breather.

Murray 1-1 Nalbandian
Murray pulls a tasty drop shot out of the bag to go 30-15 up... and then Nalbandian, with perfect imitation, does exactly the same the following point. Murray still warming up on the serve but that was comfortable enough.

Murray 0-1 Nalbandian
Slow start from both players but defending champion Nalbandian wrong-foots the Scot with a nice down-the-line pass to go 40-0 up. As much as he'll be fighting the Argentine's skills today, Murray will no doubt be grappling with tiredness too.

1311: So make sure you get involved on 606 and on the 81111 texts. Noticed I've not executed any cheesy Halloween puns thus far? I expect the discipline same of you lot too.

Players are knocking up now in the French capital. Nalbandian in garish florescent yellow and Murray (clean-shaven) in his chic Fred Perry grey number. "Deux minutes," calls the umpire.

1306: History beckons for young Murray who, I'm sure you don't need reminding, is aiming to become the first player to win three successive Masters titles after victories in Cincinnati and Madrid.

Care to cast your peepers into your sporting crystal ball to predict Murray achieving that feat on Sunday? The same day that Lewis Hamilton bids to become the youngest ever world F1 champion... If both could do it, what a day for British sport that would be.
606 - Murray v Nalbandian

1255: Bonjour all. At this very moment in time, alchemist Andy Murray is just in one of those moods that sportspersons complain is all too rare. He's utterly in 'the zone'.

Today marks another opportunity to stay in that special place as he takes on blonde Argentine David Nalbandian, the world number eight, as he bids to continue his white-hot 14-match winning streak. A place in the Paris Masters semi-finals awaits the victor.

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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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