What many tennis aficionado predicted to be a stroll in the park for Andy Murray in the second round of a major event, some were aware of the risky, volatile player Adrian Mannarino is and can be. Murray was coming in to this match with a hard-fought win over Nick Kyrgios in a match he was tested, but evidently never felt like he was going to lose.
To face the likes of Adrian Mannarino in the second round of a Grand Slam is a stern test, but still a test that a Top 5 player like Andy Murray would expect to come through. Adrian Mannarino is coming off one of his best years on the ATP World Tour, with substantially respectful final runs in Auckland and, most recently, in Bogota, where he lost to Bernard Tomic. Mannarino is currently placed just outside his career high ranking, which he achieved earlier this summer, so in effect he brings a lot of pedigree to the tennis court, particularly in 2015.
Mannarino started off the match against the British #1 in stunning style, with most of his long-winded strokes landing in and asking some serious questions to Andy Murray. That’s the sort of player that Mannarino is, he motions in and out of tennis matches. He’ll have phases in matches where nearly every ball he touches turns into winners and other patches where he can lose 2/3 games on the bounce. That’s Adrian Mannarino for you-one of the most volatile players on the circuit.
Mannarino was nothing short of exceptional in the first two sets of this encounter, making use of the left-handed serve out wide that effectively gave him the first set 7-5. Almost everything that Mannarino was mustering up was comfortably landing inside the lines to Andy Murray’s frustration, but the one factor that can’t be disregarded is the ‘Best out of 5’ factor that’s exclusive to the Grand Slam events. Can Adrian Mannarino believe in himself enough to turn over a Top 3 player in Andy Murray at one of the biggest events of the year?
In Auckland earlier this year, Adrian Mannarino’s mental coach spoke about Mannarino’s tendency to falter during the big, high-pressure moments and for his concentration levels to waver during the course of a two and three hour match up. That’s probably one of the biggest tests when the likes of a Top 40 player like Mannarino enters a physical battle with the likes of Djokovic, Murray, and Nadal.
Murray would suddenly find himself two sets to love down to the left-handed player from France, but in the past we’ve grown accustomed to Murray’s ability in a Best of 5. How can anyone forget the well-spirited comeback over Marin Cilic in the US Open 2012 and the fightback against Verdasco in Wimbledon 2013? Both tournaments where he would later be the winner of both majors in those very tournaments.
As the clock continues to tick it becomes initially more of a physical battle and in a physical scrap you back Andy Murray 9 times out of 10. Eventually Murray took the third and fourth set fairly comfortably, winning a lot of the baseline rallies as expected. But the main question was as this match heads into a deciding set- how could Mannarino prevent this from being the physical battle that Andy Murray so often thrives and feeds energy off of.
Murray looked tired physically and mentally drained. But we’ve seen in the past that his outward emotion doesn’t necessarily correlate with how he’s truly feeling inside. This fifth set was all or nothing, do or die for Andy Murray in his quest for a 3rd major victory.
Motioning through like a well-oiled machine, a resurgent Murray would mount an almighty comeback to progress to the third round of the US Open. A valiant effort from the left-handed Frenchman, but ultimately he needed to consistently find himself up the court to even stand a chance of earning a Top 3 career win tonight.
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