Andy Murray brushes Robin Soderling aside in London
Andy Murray crushed world number four Robin Soderling in straight sets on the opening day of the ATP World Tour Finals in London.
The British number one cruised to a 6-2 6-4 win in under an hour and a half in a scintillating display at The O2 in which he hit 27 winners past the below-par Swede.
“I think tactically it was a great match,” Murray said afterwards. “I played very smart tennis today. I stuck to my tactics and managed to come through.
“To win by that score line is obviously great. You need to have a strategy in all of the matches against the top guys. You know you’re not going to play the same way against everybody, and you need to make adjustments whilst you’re in the match as well.”
He added: “I was most happy with that part, that I stuck to my game plan well.”
Soderling was certainly the man in-form going in to this match. He emerged victorious at the Paris Masters last week whilst Murray’s form has fluctuated in recent months. And the world number four had won the pair’s last encounter back in March when he beat Murray in straight sets at Indian Wells.
The match started slowly with some nervy opening exchanges but burst into life in the third game when Murray chased down a casual Soderling volley to clip a superb forehand passing shot, followed by another pin-point pass as the Swede struggled at the net.
The Scot then secured the break with a rasping backhand return winner to lead 2-1. Murray was able to combine an array of delicate drop shots, aces and angled drives to force errors out of the frustrated Swede.
Soderling had no answer to the 23-year-old’s accuracy and brilliant defence play. Murray was clearly looking to keep the points short and to move his tall opponent around the court and the tactics were spot on as he strolled to the first set 6-2.
The second was a tighter affair as Soderling began to find his range but Murray maintained the momentum through accurate serving and some lethal backhands. Murray then grabbed the only break in the set at 3-3 to sail to victory
Soderling was left to rue missed break point opportunities at 3-2 and was hindered by 26 unforced errors. “In the first set I really wasn’t there,” said Soderling. “The second set was much better but he was just much better today.”
Murray was an unusually animated figure at the end of the match and leaped into the air in celebration in front of the adoring home crowd. “It’s a huge tournament,” he said. “I think all the players want to play their best tennis here.
“It’s a big win, to beat someone as good as him in a tournament like this with that scoreline – it’s pretty normal to be excited about it.”
In the other singles match world number two Roger Federer cruised past David Ferrer 6-1 6-4 to set up a titan clash against Murray on Tuesday lunchtime.
Federer dominated their head-to-head record at 10-0 and there was little hope of change for the Spaniard.
The usually consistent Ferrer simply could not contain Federer as he raced to the first set 6-1.
The Swiss maestro was pleased to come through the first match unscathed. “I thought it was a tough match,” said Federer. “Looking at the scoreline, it doesn’t reflect how tough it was.
“I’m really happy with the way I was able to get out of the first match here. Starting off with a feisty top-10 player is never easy.”
Ferrer struggled with his serve throughout the match and hit six double faults at crucial points in games. “I think I served very badly throughout the match,” said Ferrer. “With Roger it is impossible to take your chances if you are not serving well.”
Meanwhile, the ATP have approved a seven-week tour break for the players from 2012. It will mean an extra two weeks of for rest and recuperation – a change many players have advocated in the modern era.
“There’s a consensus that the players need a longer break,” said ATP Tour chief Adam Helfant.
“I’m happy to say that these new calendars and the expanded off season reflect the broad consensus among our members that the players, and really the sport as a whole, needed a longer break, It didn’t take long to find that consensus.
“Our players do not have adequate time to rest, work on their fitness and work on their game during our off season.”
Murray added: “With seven weeks you can take a break at the end of the year and that should help the longevity of everyone’s careers.”