Andy Murray began his summer hardcourt campaign with a win, but it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t pretty. Murray needed three sets to oust the 192nd-ranked Tim Smyczek 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 last night in the second round at the Farmer’s LA tennis stop.
“The first set was good and I started the second set with chances,” said Murray. “I was struggling a little bit with my movement, when I got stiff and sore. But I managed to find a way to win.
“The top of my right hip and lower back was stiff. It isn’t an injury, just on one of the changeovers my muscles started hurting. The last few changeovers I was standing up – something I have never done on tour before.”
Murray was a last minute replacement for Novak Djokovic who withdrew from the event on Friday because of “personal reasons”.
On Wednesday Murray talked about his year and his recent coaching change, “I just need to become a better player all around. I think it’s easy to start over-thinking things and over-analyzing things to try and find: Is there actually a problem there?
“I don’t think there’s a problem with my game. I just need to get better. That’s something that maybe hasn’t happened the last four or five months, something that hopefully by getting a new coach and a new sort of coaching team in place, that will help me do that, and hopefully achieve my goals.”
If Murray is physically OK to play today, he’ll meet Alejandro Falla tonight in the quarterfinals. Falla, who was oh so close to upset Roger Federer at Wimbledon, did get a scalp from Ernests Gulbis yesterday beating the Latvian in a 10-8 in the third set tiebreak.
Other winners included a healthier James Blake who on Friday faces Feliciano Lopez.
Said Blake of Lopez, “First of all he’s a lefty… and he’s got one of the best first and second serves on tour and he mixes it up well. I’m a guy who likes to attack guys’ second serves and he’s going to make that really difficult for me. Hopefully I can direct a few more balls to his backhand and make him beat me with that.”
The remain two quarterfinals pit Janko Tipsarevic v. Marcos Baghdatis and Sam Querrey v. Rainer Schuttler.
In the Gstaad quarterfinals, Yuri Shukin has already defeated Mickhail Youhzny. Jeremy Chardy and Nicolas Almagro are dueling in a good one as I write. And later it’s Albert Montanes v. Richard Gasquet and Daniel Gimeo-Traver v. Igor Andreev. Yes, that’s a clay event.
And in the other clay tourney, Umag – rainy one at that – the quarters are set with Davydenko v. Chela, Seppi v. Melzer (AUT), Ljubicic v Starace and Dolgopolov v. Ferrero (ESP).
The WTA stop in Stanford has a good showdown tonight between Maria Sharapova and Elena Dementieva. I believe this is Elena’s first event since her French Open semifinal retirement. Maria has won 8 of 11 meetings with Dementieva.
Here’s the Friday schedule from Los Angeles.
ESPN2 will cover the Querrey match live. Tennis Channel will have the Blake match live.
STRAUS STADIUM start 12:00 noon
R Schuettler (GER) vs  S Querrey (USA)
 J Tipsarevic (SRB) vs  M Baghdatis (CYP)
Not Before 4:00 PM
 F Lopez (ESP) vs [WC] J Blake (USA)
Not Before 7:30 PM
 [WC] A Murray (GBR) vs A Falla (COL)
E Butorac (USA) / J Rojer (AHO) vs  R Lindstedt (SWE) / H Tecau (ROU)
And from the women’s event up North in Stanford:
Stadium (from 12.00hrs)
1. Maria Kirilenko vs. Agnieszka Radwanska
2. Marion Bartoli vs. Victoria Azarenka (NB 14.00hrs) (Live on Tennis Channel)
3. Samantha Stosur vs. Yanina Wickmayer
4. Maria Sharapova vs. Elena Dementieva (NB 20.00hrs) (Live on Tennis Channel)
5. Craybas/Gullickson vs. Chan/Zheng
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