Sore Murray Upset In Doha, Nadal Advances To Face Gulbis; Federer Wins In Brisbane Debut
by Staff | January 1st, 2014, 3:27 pm

Andy Murray’s second match of the season was considerably different than his first. After double bageling an overmatched wildcard in his Doha opener on Monday, Murray, a 2-time tournament champion, let slip a set and 3-0 lead to Florian Mayer to fall 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the second round on Wednesday.

“I felt like I slowed down in the second set, service speed and movement,” said Murray. “It wasn’t a particular area that was sore. Just more joints rather than muscles, just a bit sore from changing direction and playing at that level.

“But I was playing well. I played some good tennis today. I moved well at the beginning of the match, so that was a positive, and I did say the only way to feel better is by playing matches. So today was a start.”

Recovering from back surgery, the reigning Wimbledon champion was playing his first official event since Davis Cup last September. Murray is not scheduled to play next week ahead of the Australian Open, but could play a exhibition match or two at Kooyang.

The German Mayer was even surprised at his comeback.

“To be honest, in my mind, the match was finished at 3-6, 0-3,” said Mayer. “I tried to play more aggressively, tried to risk something more. Of course for sure he didn’t play his best tennis.

“I knew before the match if I would have a chance, it’s probably today. He didn’t play for a long time. [So] I took my chance.”

Also in Doha, top seed and world No. 1 dropped a set but advanced over German Tobias Kamke 6-3, 6-7, 6-3.

“I spent a lot of time on court and I won,” he said. “That’s the very important thing. I think I played much better today than yesterday. The opponent played great; played very aggressive.”

Nadal now meets the entertaining Ernests Gulbis in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Rafa’s beaten the Latvian in all six prior meetings.

“He’s a player you don’t want to meet because he hits every ball very hard with a very strong serve, first and second serve,” Nadal said. “Then he hits every ball very, very, very fast from the baseline, forehand/backhand, so he’s a difficult player to play against.”

Nadal’s countryman David Ferrer however stumbled losing to Daniel Brands 6-4, 7-5. Another Spaniard, Fernando Verdasco, also crashed out losing to Victor Hanescu.

Down under in Brisbane Roger Federer made his 2014 debut with a resounding 6-4, 6-2 victory over Jarkko Nieminen.

The 32-year-old who was without new coach Stefan Edberg, is playing a pre-Australian Open event in Australia for the first time since 2000.

“Most important is that you win the match so you get a second chance to judge your game a bit better,” said Federer. “That’s why it’s most important to get an extra day or two. Now I have doubles tomorrow and the singles the next day, so it’s really good for rhythm and good for your game.

“I expect myself to play a bit better in the next match, even though today was already very good for a first match in so many weeks, to be honest, and against Nieminen who can play very good tennis. Particularly here in Australia.

“I just want to move on in the draw, because I would rather present myself four times out there than just one time and then it was a good show.”

Next for Federer in the quarterfinals is Australian Marinko Matosevic who beat Sam Querrey.

In women’s play in Brisbane, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova both advanced. Sharapova received a walkover from Ash Barty while 2-time Australian Open champion defeated Casey Dellacqua.

Sharapova returns today to face Kaia Kanepi. Top seed Serena Williams is also in action against Dominika Cibulkova.

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44 Comments for Sore Murray Upset In Doha, Nadal Advances To Face Gulbis; Federer Wins In Brisbane Debut

Josh Says:

Good wins for Rafa and Roger – two extraordinary individuals. Roger looked quite sharp to me, and the new racket appears to have added power to his groundstrokes – not much sign of any extra net attacks, presumably he’ll make the changes during/after the Australian Open.
Rafa played pretty well, but there seems to be a trend of second-set lapses emerging with him. Nevertheless, he showed who’s boss by getting the job done.

Was surprised by Murray’s loss, particularly given the 6-3, 3-0 lead. I’m a little bit concerned for him given that he’s playing no more matches until the AO, so I hope he can recover in time.

Tennis X Hippy Chic Says:

Josh such a refreshing post,none of the usual Federers better than Nadal or Nadals better than Federer,only talk and respect for both players and their respective games,so rare on this forum when posters have respect for both players,and yeah about Murray it surprised me too this result,i think hes just rusty and he will be playin an exho ahead of the AO too so he will have some more match practice,im sure he will be fine.

Josh Says:

Thanks Hippy Chic – to be honest, I’m glad I’m able to actually see some tennis at last. The off-season is my least favourite part of the year!

Tennis X Hippy Chic Says:

Josh yeah me too,its nice to be talking tennis again rather than arguing,thank goodness the off season is only a month long,i wonder what the football forums are like 3 months and no football?

Josh Says:

Much more chaotic

Frankie Says:

Surprised Murray lost so early but kudos toMayer and Roger indeed looked sharp and there was some nice pop on that new racquet.
Didn’t see Nadal so no comment there…

El_Flaco Says:

If Nadal beats Gulbis I think he will win the tournament.

the DA Says:

I’m still giggling about Rafa’s reaction to hearing about the fast courts. When does he EVER swear? hehe

If the courts really are faster I think we’re in for a very exciting and possibly tumultuous AO. Fed will love it most – he really was in his element in last night’s match. I can think of a few players, not least the big servers, who would relish it.

That said I also expect the other top guys to adapt like the pros they are. Funnily enough I think faster courts could actually work to Andy’s advantage. The rallies will be shorter and less draining on the body. Gotta think positive :)

Okiegal Says:

What was Rafa’s reaction to the faster court?? I missed that….just curious. I will have to agree with Chic, this thread is much more refreshing than what we’ve been used to lately. I hate the incessant back and forth fussing………just saying.

Humble Rafa Says:

My reaction to the fast court is I don’t like it but I can still win if I am fit.

Okiegal Says:

Thanks, HR, tell me something I didn’t know……like the swear word you used……or the link where you said it!! Lol

Michael Says:

My belated New Year wishes to all Tennis X posters. It is great to be back as Tennis has come live once again. Good wins for Rafa, Roger and bad luck to Andy which was expected since it takes a while to get your groove back after a long lay off due to surgical operation. In the next round, Rafa has a very tough opponent who has given him scares before. But, Rafa should come through. With all the three top players in action, the only miss is Novak. As regards Roger, well he is trying everything to recover from the slump – change of racquets, strategy et al. It is his passion for the sport which keeps him going despite all the set backs he has faced lately which is quite new to him since he was a spoilt player who normally wins than loses. I think this is a new learning experience for Roger where he will he learn the disappointments of lower ranked players who quite often lose than win. Always in life, it is one’s own personal hands on experience which gives an insight to others plight.

James Says:

@Okiegal, here’s Rafa’s reaction:

If the courts are indeed fast, and has good bounce like at USO, it might favor Rafa actually. His serve may not be the best but it’s a lot harder to break it on fast courts.

James Says:

Happy New Year to you too, Michael! Hope you have an amazing 2014.

Okiegal Says:


Thanks a bunch……appreciate it! Happy New Year…..hope our guy has a prosperous 2014…..winning some trophies to kiss!!

Michael Says:

Thank you James !! Heartily reciprocate.

Margot Says:

@ the DA
Am re-naming you “Pollyanna”…;) Go Poll!
Good though that it is just rust for Andy, but have no expectations regarding AO.
He looked really tired in latter stages of the match
and the heat of AO will be very disabilitating.

Tennis X Hippy Chic Says:

James yeah indeed he was ok at the USO,so im hoping that the same applies at the AO,he hasnt looked that good this week,but having said that it sometimes takes players a while to get into their stride,and everyone knows that these are warm ups ahead of the AO anyway.

Josh Says:

Anyone know when Rafa is on today?

Giles Says:

Josh. Rafa 3rd match. Play starts at 3.30 pm local time.

Josh Says:

Thanks Giles.

Perfect fan Says:

Fast playing courts in AO (if at all true, though I doubt) will not be a disadvantage to rafa….he already proved that by winning cincy last year, one of the fastest courts on tour. Moreover, in AO it will be best of 5 sets….which will further assist his chances there.

However, faster courts with minimal bounce does create troubles for rafa where his topspin gets nullified….but such courts are a myth these days.

the DA Says:

@Margot -my inner Pollyanna needs to counterbalance your inner Eeyore ;) I read that Andy was offered WCs into Auckland and Sydney but that he’s unlikely to accept them. Sometimes our guy is so single-minded.

Meanwhile, rain in Doha.

the DA Says:

So they’re moving the Mayer/Hanescu match to Court 1. That means Nadal/Gulbis will be on soon. (gets popcorn)

Margot Says:

Torrential rain in UK! Rain in Doha! Rain Oz.
Off to build my ark!

El_Flaco Says:

I don’ t pay attention to the slam rumors anymore about courts playing slow or fast. The scoop 2 weeks before the U.S. Open was that the courts were lightning fast and they turned out to be slow.

Brando Says:

Been a while, so:

1. Happy New Year to all. Hope that 2014 proves joyous for you and yours.

2. Muzza:

Losing in Doha was a real bummer. Andy needs to get a WC to Kooyoong pronto since he’s in desperate need of court time. I am a eternal optimist, and I was harboring some quiet hope that he could strike big at AO despite his lay off but seeing how his return has gone so far I no longer possess such hope.

The lack of court time and – more importantly- the state of mind Andy seems to suggests (in my interpretation of it) does not suggest a player with real chances to win the AO. To be fair: had Rafa played Vina Del Mar and then Sao Paolo, followed by FO- would I expect him to win or challenge strongly? NO.

I think week 1 for Andy will be the deal breaker. IF he somehow get’s through it then who knows what can happen for him. But right now he seems vulnerable at such a stage- similar to Rafa at Wimby in that sense.

He really, really needs a good week 1 draw more than week 2 IMO. As well as more court time.

2. AO court speed:

A big nothing deal IMO. Personally I have always felt a fast court actually suits the big 4 names in this order: Fed, Muzza, Novak and Rafa.

Rafa? Of course a slower court is ideal for him, just like any player has a preference for certain conditions. But it’s not much of a game changer at all.

IMHO: he’ll be fine whatever the court speed as he’s shown he by winning Dubai, China Open, Tokyo Open, Montreal, Cincinnatti, USO, AO and even that the so called ‘fast courts’ are not a obstacle to him in terms of winning.

In fact: barring SHANGHAI- where he has been a RU- he’s pretty much won at all the somewhat fast outdoor HC you could name.

Novak also would prefer slower conditions. He’s won 3 in a row there- he’d definitely want the court to stay the same.

Tennis X Hippy Chic Says:

Happy New Year Brando and good analysis too.

Tennis X Hippy Chic Says:

Going by the recent form of Novak i would say its reasonable to suggest he is the favorite at the AO,although IMO been a favorite means nothing as you still have to go out and play the matches,hes won the title 3 years in a row so maybe just maybe hes facing the law of averages,to a larger extent and i know its months away yet,i would not be surprised if Rafas run were to come to an end at RG this year,i mean i hope it doesnt but surely all runs come to an end eventually favorite or no favorite just saying.

Josh Says:

I think the two might even swap their favourite GS titles this year

Tennis X Hippy Chic Says:

Josh exactly i wouldnt be surprised either,both are trying to make history,so im sure they will be extra motivated,Nole wants a career GS and Rafa wants a second career GS.

Steve 27 Says:

Is not the speed that bother Rafa, is the bounce.

Steve 27 Says:

Jim Courier and Mats Wilander are the only players who won the first two grand slams of the year. The Swedish in 1988 and the American in 1992. It has been 22 years and this doublet (AO and RG) seems to be the most difficult of all, even more than RG and Wimbledon.
There are only two players able to achieve this, for each of them would be extremely hard to beat the other where they are “local”: Djokovic on hard courts of plexicushion and Rafa on clay at Roland Garros.

Colin Says:

One thing that hasn’t been mentioned regarding Murray’s chances in the AO, is the Lendl factor. If anyone can talk Andy into a positive frame of mind, it’s old stoneface! Then, as has been said, we must hope the draw isn’t unkind.

I suppose there is a possibility Andy might simply decide he’s not ready for a slam, and give Australia a miss, but I don’t really see that happening.

Michael Says:

Brando – a Very happy New year to you too !!

I agree with most of your analysis about Murray. It is so difficult to get to your groove when you come after a lay off. And that is the reason, Rafa’s amazing comeback in 2013 looks spectacular and prove that he is made of a different fettle. Andy will require some more time on Court to rediscover his confidence. In my opinion, he can play some exhibition tournaments – Kooyong classic is one which he is ofcourse playing. But, Andy will find it quite tough at the Australian Open. He must feel happy if he makes the semis there. Regarding the speed of courts at Australian Open, traditionally they are of slower variety and that suits sloggers like Novak and Rafa. But it would be quite unfair to restrict these players on court conditions. They are all round players capable of producing the goods on any court. Relatively slower courts suit their game. As of now, my favourites for the Australian Open would be Novak, Rafa, Del Potro necessarily in that order. The dark horse might be Tsonga.

Margot Says:

Andy’s had a back operation. A wee bit more than a “lay off.”
Neil Harman, whom I rate highly, says it’s asking the impossible for Andy to do well at AO. Intense heat, 5 setters etc. etc. Watching him fade against Meyer over 3, reinforced this feeling.
I understand Andy has turned down offers of tournament play and going straight to OZ practise courts. Expect he wants Lendl time.

Tennis X Hippy Chic Says:

Colin i hope old stoneface Mr Lendel can get Murray in the right frame of mind for the AO,im sure he will and i hope its enough,im choosing to stay optomistic and hope its all lack of matches and rust for Murray.

Tennis X Hippy Chic Says:

Michael your saying it might take a while for Andy to get back into the swing of things,and Rafas made of different fettle,just asking but how do we know how this will affect Andy as hes only just started back playing?its just too early to make such an assumption surely?

A Tango Lad Says:

I agree. First tournament back is a bit premature.

A rusty Nadal was unimpressive to say the least in his first tournament back in South America losing to Zeballos in the final. However, one key difference is that Nadal played many tournaments prior to his first slam tournament back whereas Murray is heading into Melbourne almost imeediately with very little match play. This is somewhat countered by his layoff being significantly shorter than Nadal’s.

Lack of match play is the key impediment to Murray’s success at the Open this year compared to Nadal at the French last year.

holdserve Says:

I do believe even for Rafa, it may not have been easy to come back at the beginning of the season and go practically cold turkey into a grand slam.
So he chose to come back in Feb on clay and gradually work himself into grand slam form by RG.
It is not easy to play 5 setters. Andy’s playing fine but he is getting tired. He may find AO a challenge but I am sure his real aim is to win Wimbly again and I am sure he will do it.
Whatever he achieves at AO will be a bonus for me. I am anxious about his health just as I was about Rafa especially when he chose to play Indian wells last year which I thought was unnecessary. But Rafa was clear about what he wanted and knew his limitations.
I am sure Andy and his team are equally wise.
In any case, I am sure his back is fine, just not long-match ready. He needs to work himself into form and fitness.

A Tango Lad Says:

You are correct holdserve.

That reminds me when Nadal caught a virus and had to pull out of Doha last year. He then decided to pull out of Australia because of lack of match play.

At least Murray has played a few matches in Abu Dhabi and Doha. He may indeed have skipped Melbourne like Nadal did if he wasn’t able to get any matches.

Agree with Michael that semis in Melbourne for Murray is a more realistic goal.

Margot Says:

Brilliant photos on here, with Andy coming in at 1 and 2, hee hee….and an astonishing photo of Rafa at 15.
Very interesting commentary from Tom too. He was as nervous as any of us, prior to the Wimbledon final.

Michael Says:

Margot & Alison,

I am sorry, I made a rather premature judgement on Andy. We need to wait for some more time to see how things turn out. And moreover as Margot rightly said, Andy’s ailment is more serious and so it is not right for comparison.

Tennis X Hippy Chic Says:

Michael fair enough no harm or foul,its as Colin said if anyone can put Murray in a positive frame of mind its Mr Lendel though,i dont know about his chances at the AO im chosing to be optomistic rather than pesemistic,and i doubt he would play anyway if he didnt believe he was ready,although i believe the semis would be a great result at this stage,other than that its too early to make an assumption about the rest of the season so best to concentrate on the here and the now,surfice to say i think Murray had to stomach enough negativity during wimbledon last year,hes starting from scratch as they all are,so lets see what happens before we start writing out obituries.

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