Andy Murray – World Tour Finals

Posted on November 17, 2011

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By Martin Owens

The ATP World Tour Finals, tennis’ fifth biggest event, is only 3 days away and it could not be arriving at a better time for Britain’s number one, Andy Murray.

After enjoying his most successful year to date on the ATP tour – one grand slam final, three semi-finals, two ATP 1000 Masters titles, another three tour titles, an 18 match unbeaten run, and climbing above Roger Federer in the world rankings for the first time – Murray, 24, is as ready as ever to challenge for the title at London’s O2 Arena.

This Sunday will see the top eight men in tennis take to the courts ready to battle it out to secure a possible $1,630,000 in prize money and 1500 ranking points, and while Murray faces an extremely tough field, the changes made both on and off the court this season will see him arrive in London with a better chance than ever before to lift his first World Tour Finals title.

The major difference in Andy’s game is the long awaited arrival of a forehand capable of rallying with the best in the game. For years his backhand, movement, and shot selection have kept him in the top four – the arrival of a powerful forehand has seen him reach a new level of consistency.

Along with the improvements to his forehand, Murray brings to London a newfound maturity. Gone are the days of on court arguments with his coaching team and the self-deprecating attitude we had become accustomed to. Murray’s former coach, Brad Gilbert, has seen a massive difference since parting ways with the world number three: “The biggest difference with Murray is his improved serve and forehand. He is also physically stronger and a lot more mature.”

Murray is hoping that the final piece of the jigsaw that will lead to a successful tournament in London next week and, more importantly, take him to the next level in grand slam tennis is his vastly improved diet. Following the success of Novak Djokovic, Andy has adopted the gluten and dairy free diet that has seen the Serb win three of the four grand slam titles this year, and the effects are now beginning to show for the Scot. In a recent press conference Murray spoke about the effects of the diet: “I’ve felt much more energetic. Mentally, I feel very fresh. I think I’ve paced myself through the year pretty well but physically I feel fine. I wake up in the morning and I feel okay. A lot of it could be down to diet but also the work I do in the gym and the way I’ve gone through the year.”

Looking ahead to the finals, being held in London for a third consecutive year, Murray will face world number one Novak Djokovic, Spain’s David Ferrer and the man who ended his 18 match winning streak in Paris last week, Tomas Berdych, in group A of the round-robin stage. While group B sees Rafael Nadal, defending champion Roger Federer, Jo Wilfried Tsonga, and tournament debutant Mardy Fish compete for a place in the semi-finals. The two players with the best records in each group will advance to the semi-finals, where the winners go on to meet in the championship match.

Murray has never been past the semi-final stage at the season-ending tournament in three attempts, losing in to Nadal last year in what many hailed as the match of the season. However, with his new forehand, the unequivocal support of the partisan British crowd and a weeks rest, one thing is for sure, the Scot has never been better prepared to take home the $1,630,000 prize money and a 6th title of the year.

Group B

20/11/11 Order of play:

After 2pm R Federer (SWI) v Tsonga (FRA)

After 8pm R Nadal (ESP) v M Fish (USA)

Group A

21/11/11 Order of play:

After 2pm A Murray (GBR) v Ferrer (ESP)

After 8pm N Djokovic (SRB) v T Berdych (CZE)

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