Andy Murray: No. 3 Ranking Is Not The Ultimate Goal [Video]
by Tom Gainey | October 10th, 2011, 10:29 am

What a performance by Andy Murray yesterday in Tokyo. After losing the first set to favored Rafael Nadal he stormed back winning the final two in going-away fashion 36, 62, 60 to capture the Rakuten Japan Open in Tokyo.

It was no surprise that Murray said afterward that the last two sets were some of the finest tennis he’s played against Nadal.

“I played some great tennis, especially in the third set,” Murray said. “I had a couple of chances in the first set and was maybe going for too much, going too close to the lines, but once I got that break the roles reversed a little bit. He started going for a little bit more and I was dictating the points playing high-percentage tennis. For sure in the third set it was some of the best tennis I’ve played against him. I was very consistent, didn’t make too many mistakes and kept a cool head in the important moments.”

Murray no moves closer to passing the idle Roger Federer for the year-end No. 3 ATP ranking. But Murray wants greater rewards.

“I need to keep up the wins and hopefully I’ll get to the No. 3 ranking,” he said. “It’s not the ultimate goal, but it’s the target I set for the last few tournaments this year.”

The singles crown wasn’t the only hardware Murray took home Sunday. After the match, Murray and brother Jamie won the doubles titles.

Murray has won 11 straight matches and 21 of his last 22. He now has 20 career ATP titles, four of them this season.

Murray and Nadal are both among the top seeds this week at the Rolex Masters in Shanghai.

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20 Comments for Andy Murray: No. 3 Ranking Is Not The Ultimate Goal [Video]

Brando Says:

Well done andy- hope he gets no.3. BUT if he meets rafa in shanghai, hope rafa wins :-)

margot Says:

“You’re just too good to be true
Can’t get enough of youoo” or this video ;)
And, oh my goodness, Andy is No 1 in the funk. Must be the first time EVER!

jane Says:

High percentage is the way to go, hitting deep, but with spin so it doesn’t go out. That’s the way Nole plays too much of the time. Also Rafa leaves a lot of balls short, which makes it more possible for his opponents to step in and shrink the court. Andy did an excellent job of that. Plus, he was simply “feeling it.”

Lovely to watch Andy play confidently and in charge!! Go Muzza: first number 3, then first slam.

Waluigi Says:

Those last two sets were a perfect display of just how well Murray can play. It’s seemed pretty difficult for him to pull off this season, but when he balances offence and defence, he really gets it done.

I think everyone can learn from the way he uses “defensive shots”, like short slices up the line/cross-court, to suddenly create situations in which he can be offensive.

Here’s a pretty cool article I found yesterday, on shots that reminded me a lot of Murray’s game

Kimmi Says:

hope murray can build it up from here. he is done very well in aussie open..maybe this will be his first major. Go Andy.

jane Says:

Nice going Murray! Keep the great work. If he defends Shanghai, he becomes #3. i think he probably will regardless, as he doesn’t have near as many points to defend as Roger, post Shanghai. Fed won STockholm, Basel, and WTF and I think he reached the semis in Paris.

Kimmi Says:

I thought this was interesting..

“Nadal did not agree with Andy Murray’s assessment that the level of the men’s game had gone up another notch this season, instead suggesting that he and Roger Federer had not been as good as in previous years, and therefore were unable to keep pace with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic. “I don’t think the level has been better than 2010 or 2009. I think it has been similar,” said the Mallorcan. “For my part and Roger’s part a little bit worse for the moment.”

“I played worse than last year. I was very consistent, probably even more consistent than last year, but I played a little bit worse, I think. I think Roger played well, but he lost a few matches that in the past he never would have lost.”

Brando Says:

Thanks kimmi for that. I think rafa is a 100% correct and due a large degree stating the obvious. He is not as good as rafa 2010, whilst roger losing from 2 sets up is also something that had never happened prior to this year. So both of them have dipped. What’s occurred is basically role reversals, nole 2011 has replaced rafa 2010 and that’s all really. Andy has had a good season and won his last 2 tourny’s but one most remeber as good as he played they were 250 and 500 point tourny’s. Roger had a bad 2010 In comparison to 2009 BUT he still won a slam, WTF, masters, 500 point tourny and a 250 pt one.

Brando Says:

Spot on by andy here- IMHO the most straightforward, honest out of top 4 in his answers:

‘Murray won both the singles and doubles titles. He admits he may never again repeat his third-set performance against Nadal.

“It happens sometimes when you’re playing right at the top of a sport,” said Murray, who beat Nadal 3-6, 6-2, 6-0. “A few per cent difference here or there. I mean, what happened in the third set, it probably never happened to him before, and I’ll probably never play a set of tennis again like that on the tour. It’s just one of those sets where I hardly missed a ball.

“I wish it happened every day, but the reality is it’s not going to be like that.”‘

Link, if anyone wants to read entire article:

margot Says:

Very modest of Andy, but very wrong. I’ve seen him playing like that twice before, once against Roddick at Queens and once against Meltzer, can’t remember where. At Shanghai last year he played pretty fine too.
Of course the media will jump on him if he says anything else, shame :(

jane Says:

“roger losing from 2 sets up is also something that had never happened prior to this year”

Wow, I didn’t know that. I was looking at the link Kimberly posted yesterday, though, and Roger’s 5th set record is 18-16, so he’s always in a bit of a 50-50 position if a match goes that far.


margot, I believe I have seen Murray play sublime tennis like that before, too, although it was not something I ever saw versus Rafa I don’t think? He was definitely in the zone; everything was clicking. But surely that’s happened more than once in his career. :)

Brando Says:

@jane: roger is extremely clinical when 2 sets up to love. Never lost until this year, so obviously he has dipped inthat regard. The 5th set stat I did not know, but seems about right. @margot: I think what andy meant was how h completely outplayed rafa in the final set- letting him win only 4 points- was a freakish accident against a player of his calibre. I mean even against nole this year, nothing of such kind has happened to rafa. Main thing andy should do is look to maintain that style against everyone as opposed to just writing it as a one off.

jane Says:

I do agree with what Rafa says about “very small” margins between winning and losing. Like he said about Nole: “”Djokovic this year already won a lot of tournaments, three Grand Slams, he didn’t lose matches. I don’t believe that he changed his game unbelievably. He did a few small things better than a few years ago and that’s why his big success this year. That’s what I am going to try.””

That’s right Rafa. And Fed said something very similar too. They should know: combined they’ve played Nole 53 times! I tire of hearing about a “huge” transformation in Nole. The guy has always been right near the top at #3. If you think about it: tweaking his serve; improving his forehand; fixing his diet; coming up with tactics versus Rafa; the confidence he got from beating Roger at the USO last year & winning Davis cup – these were all enough to push him to number 1, and get him over those final humps. His 5th set record is 13-5 so he’s often done well in 5 setters. ANYhow, sorry for my rant. ;)

Polo Says:

I agree that Djokovic did not have a have a “huge” transformation. However, he had minor improvements in several aspects of his game. Serve, endurance, mental, etc. Nadal and Federer on the otherhand, did not have “huge” transformations either. What they had were minor chinks in some aspects of their games. At the level of the games of these 3 great players, those minor changes amount to something quite significant.

Polo Says:

Oops! Did I just say the same thing that Jane just said? Sorry!

Brando Says:

@Jane: Completely agree re nole. Even the man himself has consistently said that he never felt invincible during his unbeaten streak. He also had luck and alot of things going his way- BUT no more or no less than rafa in 2010 or anyone else who produces such results.

For example, in rome the semi against murray, andy should have won. Miami final against rafa, as roger said rafa played an awful tie breaker. And there were other occassions.

What Nole has done this year was not a complete surprise. The guy was a world no.3 for 4 years in a row, a slam, WTF winner and someone with a winning hard court h2h- the surface most major tournies is played on- against the present no.1 at the start of this year.

Plus, as we all know, when your confident, winning most of the time, the momentum that it can generate is more than enough to carry you through most tricky situations. Good for Nole i say, just take it easy with my guy next time :-)

Brando Says:

@Polo: I agree re the tactics change against rafa and roger. But even here if 1 looks more closely there hasn’t been any RADICAL changes.

– Federer: Win in AUS and Dubai. The AUS match was close but really i felt both matches were the usual fed- nole matches, except this time things went nole’s way. USO, fed should have won, but just like 2010 nole came through. Either way, there hasn’t really been a radical change in the dynamic of these two’s matchup, except in the results. Things went with nole here, in a year when most things did.

-Nadal: I think the biggest change here has been mental as opposed to anything else. Nole had never beaten rafa at a slam, on clay or in a final, but now he has so he doesn’t really have any self doubts aginst rafa. Rafa on the other hand, now fears him. BUT who wouldn’t when you lose to anyone 6 times in a row.

jane Says:

Polo, you didn’t repeat because you added this very good point: “Nadal and Federer on the otherhand, did not have “huge” transformations either. What they had were minor chinks in some aspects of their games”

The same way minor adjustments can push a player up and over in some contests and rivalries, so the reverse applies. Exactly.

Brando, agree mostly re: Nole/Rafa match up, after all, they’d had plenty of close matches prior to this year, and there were even sets on clay that Nole won handily as far back as 2008. But there are maybe just a couple issues besides mental, imo, like exploiting Rafa’s backhand to open up court, and being more willing to take advantage of short balls/spin by hitting deep and flat or oming in more for a put away. Am still surprised by how much more Nole’s been coming to net, esp at Wimbledon when they played. Rafa is very good at net: he should come in more, too, don’t you think?

As for Fed v Nole agree 100%. The matches are similar to always between these two, but this year the confidence helped Nole maybe more so.

Brando Says:

@jane: completely agree re rafa/ nole but most especially about rafa’s volleying. The man can volley really well and I’m surprised he doesn’t come to the net more often. Even in some of the highlights of the Murray match, when rafa came to the net he won the point. I think against nole rafa needs to change his tactics. Hit deeper, do not run around the BH, go to the net as a change up, try to play from inside the baseline, attack nole’s FH etc. All tactical changes that can help. With his game work on the serve and BH- BUT ultimately the biggest change needed is psychological- he needs to believe that he can beat him!

margot Says:

Brando @12.35: completely agree re Andy. That kind of play needs to become second nature to him…well, one can only hope…;)

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