Murray Mentally Folds, Bryans Win Title at Washington

Posted on August 7, 2006

Brit Andy Murray's run in his first tournament under new coach Brad Gilbert this week in Washington was the talk of the tour, with the animated Gilbert leading his third straight prodigy after Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick into a tournament final in their first event. But on Sunday the formerly-composed Murray acted all of his 19 years of age in collapsing against French veteran Arnaud Clement 7-6(3), 6-2.

In the first-set tiebreak Murray made what ESPN commentator Patrick McEnroe pinpointed as "rookie mistakes": failing to ask for a video replay challenge on a big point, even with coach Brad Gilbert repeatedly mouthing "challenge" from the stands, and failing to call for a trainer to get a blister taped, downtroddenly staring down at his hand between points while giving up the breaker.

Murray went down a break immediately in the second set, slumping his shoulders and tanking points, going for huge winners in frustration.

Clement then went up 4-0, getting too many balls back for the blister-bothered and agitated Murray, and served out the set at 5-2 for the championship.

"I never had a blister before and I don't like to play with tape on my hands," Murray said. "When the blisters burst, it was hard to hold my racket. It was quite difficult for me but it definitely wasn't the reason I lost. I played a very good player."

Clement spoke to the crowd in an on-court interview after the win.

"It's one of my best weeks ever," said Clement after winning his first title on American soil. "I played the best match today in the finals, the perfect week for me. He missed a lot of forehands in the second set, he had the little problem with his hand."

Earlier this year Clement rebounded from three straight losses at the Australian Open, Zagreb, and in Davis Cup play to win the title at Marseille, outlasting a back-from-injury Rafael Nadal in the semifinals and Mario "Baby Goran" Ancic in the final. Between Marseille and Washington, Clement failed to advance past the second round in eight straight events.

As usual, Murray also played the low-expectations card after the loss.

"It was a good week," Murray said. Getting to an ATP final at my age is a good week in anyone's book, unless you're [Rafael] Nadal. Probably he'd be disappointed. My first week with Brad has gone well. I've nothing to complain about."

And of course you can't get away from an Andy Murray match nowadays without a Brad Gilbert quote.

"It was disappointing today. I'm sure it was disappointing for Andy. But hopefully it won't linger," Gilbert said. "He's a great kid, he's a really smart thinker on the court, he's very talented and he can get a lot better."

In the doubles final top-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan successfully defended their Washington title from last year with a 6-3, 5-7, 10-3 (match tiebreak) win over No. 2 seeds Paul Hanley and Kevin Ullyett.

It is the second consecutive title for the Bryans who won last week in LA.

"Since winning the career slam at Wimbledon everything seems much easier and we don't feel as under pressure," Mike Bryan said. "We're not as serious before matches and we're able to just go out and play tennis."
-- Tennis-X