January 08, 2012 | 05:45 PM
The match of the day was in CHENNAI, where #31 MILOS RAONIC won his 2nd career title against JANKO TIPSAREVIC, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4) with 35 aces and 73% 1st serving. The Serb, ranked #9, was tough as ever through over 3 hours of high level tennis, holding serve throughout despite trailing many times and needing to save 9 break points. Ahead a set and up 4-3, his best chance came when Raonic served at 15-40. Serving at 4-6 in the final set breaker, he finally made an unforced error, netting Raonic's return of serve with his forehand.
Of MURRAY'S 21 titles before day's in Brisbane over a hurting Alex DOLGOPOLOV(6-1, 6-3), Andy had never won in Australia, though of course he's been the runner-up twice in a row at the Open there. His title haul in the first half of any year before today was six: 2 in Doha, 1 in Miami, 1 at Queens and 1 in Rotterdam and Marseilles (both indoors).
What has made Andy far more dangerous after Wimbledon than before in the last 7 years since he turned pro?
Clay is certainly one thing:
- he is has yet to reach the final of a clay court ATP tournament in 26 tries over 7 years
- his winning percentage on clay is below .600, a good 25% worse than his .776 record on hard courts
But since he's only entered 26 clay events in 7 years, this doesn't answer the question completely as of the 43 non-clay ATP events he's entered before Wimbledon, he's won only 13.9% of them versus the 30.6% of the 49 non-clay events he's played after Wimbledon. The clay season can't be said to disrupt his flow as it doesn't begin before April.
In any event, having LENDL as a coach and for the first time starting his season in Australia as opposed to Doha is a new approach. It was at about his age that Lendl hired Tony Roche to coach him, which led to his starting to win majors (Paris was his first in 1984). While at his first Australian Open with Roche (held at the end of the year) he lost in the 3rd round to #21 Kevin Curren in straight sets, the next year his semis loss was the only loss he had among the 7 events he played starting with that year's US Open, which he won (he won 6 of 11 of his previous events that year for a total of 12 titles). The most titles Murray's won in a year is 6 in 2009 (he won 5 in '11 and '08).
If Murray is to enter real competition with the top 3, this may be the year and Lendl may get credit as the catalyst. The Czech's caginess as a tactician cannot be underestimated. If it was at all in evidence today, it may have been shown in Andy's starting position when returning the weak Dogopolov 2nd serve. The pressure he exerted on the 2nd serve may have been partially responsible for the 53% serving from the Ukrtanian. Murray's been known to be too passive on returns, so this change was not racket science. But with Lendl telling you to do it, perhaps a placebo affect helped Andy to feel better about it.
In SYDNEY, DEL POTRO LEADS the men's draw as the #1 seed, with ISNER, GASQUET and LOPEZ #2 - 4.
The WOMEN'S draw features most of the top ranked players who are not injured:
#4 Li Na
#5 Stosur (playing a 2nd event in a row - she won Brisbane)
AP, WTA update 1.8.12