Well it looks like someone has made the most of their offseason (however short it may have been)!
Andy Murray, who went through a crazy conditioning program down in Miami (check out the day-by-day account at Down the Line! for details) just won the Abu Dhabi exhibition tournament. First he dropped the hammer on James Blake, 6-2, 6-2, and then chalked up another win over Roger Federer, beating him 7-6 in the third. He went on to beat Rafael Nadal in three sets.
Originally, with this post, I was going to talk about how I thought despite his grueling conditioning, I still wasn't going to consider him my favorite for the Australian in a couple of weeks. Here's why:
You see, Murray has every shot in the book, which I think rewards him best on the fastest surfaces, such as carpet, grass and quick hard courts. He can take someone's ball and has good enough hands to do anything he wants with it: He can loop or slice someone's flat shots, drive through their topspin, etc. I just think when it's more on him to create, he gets in a little bit of trouble; not much, just a little. Having to do that on a slower surface, such as clay or Plexicushion, which they've been using at the Aussie now instead of Rebound Ace (check this out at Tennis Brain), might be too tall an order to pull off for seven matches playing best of five.
Plus, when it gets in the later rounds, with his ranking, he'd probably have to face Nadal in the semis there and likely either Novak Djokovic, Federer or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the finals. That's a lot to ask of a guy!
However, if this exo he just won in which he went back-to-back against the two best players in the world and won is any indication, I might have to revise my way of thinking. I'm not totally ready to make him my Aussie favorite yet, but I have to admit, I'm a little more convinced of his chances. And if it works out for him there, I bet Miami will be the hot spot for other players in their time off!
An old friend of mine and I used to talk tennis for hours, whether it was our own games or what was happening in the pros. I've started Tennis Talk, Anyone? to, well, talk tennis with an even broader crowd! My name is Van Sias and I've been playing for 20 years now, and not only am I player, I'm a huge fan of the game as well: pro, amateur, you name it. I'll post links to news items related to the sport, and offer my own personal opinion, predictions and hopefully get some of yours as well.