Murray storms to Thailand title and closes in on Federer
British No1 eases past Donald Young 6-2 6-0 in 48 minutes to win his third title of the season in Bangkok
The first time Andy Murray played at the Thailand Open in 2005 he reached the first of his 27 tour finals. He went on to win 18 of those finals and was now aiming for his 19th in Thailand 2011.
On that first occasion, Murray lost to Roger Federer and, this time, Federer again loomed large””but in a very different way. For Murray is, inch by inch, closing in on Federer’s No3 ranking, and a win in Bangkok was be a vital step towards overtaking the Swiss for the first time in the Scot’s career.
Murray was taking on the rising talent of 22-year-old Donald Young, who was playing in his own first final.
The two men met at the US Open less than a month ago and Murray won in straight sets, but Young won their only other meeting at Indian Wells last March, also in straight sets.
The American came into the final on the back of his best run in the professional ranks and was guaranteed to break into the top 50 for the first time in his career.
He was also showing a new focus and maturity, coming back from a break down in both the second and third sets against Gael Monfils in their three-hour semi-final. But Murray proved to be a much more formidable obstacle.
The Scot””who has looked calm, strong and fit throughout the week””immediately broke the Young serve to 15 and stormed through a love service game of his own. He then broke again to take a 4-0 lead.
Young began to find better pace and length during his third service game and at last got onto the scoreboard, 4-1, but it proved to be a short-lived attack. Murray’s accuracy, consistency and strength kept Young’s aggression at bay, and Murray took the first set in a meagre 30 minutes, 6-2.
The second set followed the same storyline. Murray went up a double break to lead 4-0 but this time gave Young no room to make any impression.
Despite hitting around 70 per cent of his first serves, Young buckled under the quality of Murray’s return game, which lived up to its reputation as one of the best on the tour.
Young was soon out of ideas and started to run out of energy, too, and Murray powered to a straightforward 6-0 set in around a quarter of an hour. It took the Scot a total of just 47 minutes to win his 19th title, the third of 2011.
This was impressive, focused, mature tennis from a relaxed, smiling Murray. And it took him one step closer to that Swiss target. If Murray remains unbeaten through the rest of the Asian swing, he may even reach No3 before the start of the European indoor run towards the World Tour Finals.
Murray picked up 250 points by winning in Bangkok. Next week, he defends 90 quarter-final points in Tokyo but the draw favours him reaching a final with Nadal. If he wins, however, he will gain 410 points.
The last event of the Asian swing is the climax at the Shanghai Masters, and Federer has already conceded the 600 points he holds as last year’s losing finalist by withdrawing from this year’s tournament.
Murray’s challenge in the Far East, therefore, is to defend his Shanghai title. If he manages to win both in Tokyo and in Shanghai, he can take the giant step to No3, but it’s a big ask.
In practice, it means three straight titles in three straight weeks and, from now on, he will also have Nadal””and possibly Novak Djokovic””in his path.
Whatever the outcome in Asia, however, Murray is almost certain to join the top three by the conclusion of the WTFs. On the way there, Federer has to play near-perfect tennis to defend his outstanding results from last autumn.
Murray has much less to lose and, as he said after winning in Bangkok, his main aim now is “to try and keep this momentum going into London.”
He has won 16 of his last 17 matches and, judging from the look of his game in Bangkok, the Murray machine will take some stopping.