Andy Murray clearly endured heavy disappointment when Stan Wawrinka bundled him out of the 2015 ATP World Tour Finals in two sets here on Friday night – but there was also discernible relief that he can now shift his attention to helping Great Britain win the Davis Cup in Belgium next weekend.
“Right now I’m not so much concerned about next week,” he said. “I’m just disappointed that I lost the last two matches. I didn’t find it difficult not thinking about the Davis Cup, to be honest. The only positive for me this week is I’ve come away from it injury-free. Now I have a couple more days to get ready for Belgium.”
Surely conscious that everyone who knew and cared for Britain’s best player wanted him to get through the match in one piece, Murray started cautiously – then nearly two hours later finished as he nearly always does, in a blizzard of high-energy desperation as his fighting instincts took over. At one point in the final game of the match he chased down a searching forehand and clutched his lower back and grimaced but the moment passed.
He almost took it to a third set before Wawrinka watched a final sloppy backhand drift wide, Murray’s 30th unforced error in an hour and 54 minutes, to win 7-6, 6-4 and book a semi-final against Roger Federer, who was already through to the weekend from the other side of the draw, unbeaten and now looking at a potential bonanza of nearly $4.5m if he wins his seventh title.
So, a year after Mirka Federer called Wawrinka “a crybaby” while he was blowing three match points against her husband in the 2014 semi-finals, the Swiss are hurled back into another encounter to decide who goes through to the 2015 final. “It will be an interesting match,” Wawrinka said with a smile afterwards. “It was a crazy night for sure.” History is either cruel or has a wicked sense of humour.
That is a sideshow for Saturday. Murray packed all his drama into this final match of their round robin but was not sharp enough to hurt Wawrinka consistently, giving him court space to launch some withering attacks on both flanks.
“You have to try your best right the way through to the end,” Murray said. “It wasn’t enough, to be honest. I made too many errors. I couldn’t quite get the balance because, when I was going for my shots, I felt like I was making errors.
“I gave a cheap point away at 4-2 [in the tie-break]. I missed a forehand on the first ball of the rally, a fairly basic shot. Then two second-serve returns on my backhand, one into the net, one into the tramlines at 4-3. I made one other error at the end of the set as well. Even in the last game [of the match] … a couple of backhands, one in the middle of the net on a deuce point, then on match point, another simple backhand into the tramlines. Way too many errors. Cheap ones, as well.”
As a match report, it resonated with realism. But he was less forthcoming on why he had asked his team and family to move away from the courtside box and into seats near the roof. “Sometimes when the box is extremely close to the court, I can find that a distraction,” he said. “So I thought it would be better to have them sit a bit further away from the court. That was it.”
Curiously nobody could recall him doing that at any time in his career. It could be he was struggling for focus, trying to crowd out thoughts of everything but this match, including the mountainous task of erasing one more record from the books and winning the Davis Cup for his country for the first time since Fred Perry and Bunny Austin lifted the trophy in 1936.
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