Murray doubles up to prolong Olympic experience

From Barry Newcombe, SJA Chairman
Andy Murray’s debut day at the Olympic Games finished on a better note just before midnight when he and his brother Jamie won their first-round doubles match against the Canadians Daniel Nestor and Frederic Niemeyer 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

World No6 Andy Murray, the hottest tennis player in the world coming into his first Games, could not sustain his professional form in the singles earlier in the evening when he crashed out in the first round to the world’s 77th ranked player, Lu Yen-Hsun, of Taipei, who beat him 7-6(7-5), 6-4 in 2hr 10min.

“I came here to win an Olympic medal and I could only win one in singles or doubles. If I had to pick one I would like to win it with my brother,” Andy Murray said. “I didn’t play particularly well in singles. I lost to a better player, but we deserved to win the doubles, we played well.”

In the doubles, the Murrays served for the match at 5-3 in the final set but Jamie was broken. Then the British pair missed two match points on Niemeyer’s serve before winning through on the third.

The Murrays are expected to be Britain’s Davis Cup pairing in the world group relegation match against Austria at Wimbledon next month and this win over a pairing containing the current world No1 in Nestor enhances their reputation.

But this could not completely assuage the disappointing showing in the singles earlier.

Murray was set to win easily. He had come to Beijing direct from winning his first Masters title in Cincinnatti and was favourite not only to beat Lu but to threaten the rest of the field which meant that on his side of the draw he would have faced Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal in the quarter finals.

Whatever dreams and targets Murray held in his mind were tossed aside by Lu who took most of his chances with a boldness and certainty which belied his status and never lifted the pressure he could put on the British No1.

Murray could not complain about lack of opportunities In the first set he led 4-2 and had two set points at 6-5. These were opportunities which had to be taken if Murray was to start his Olympic challenge with a win. The more Murray missed, the more Lu’s confidence grew.

The man from Taipei led 6-2 in the tie break and although Murray chipped away three of those set points he double faulted on the last.

When Lu led 2-0 in the second set a quick finish was in prospect but when a light drizzle caused a stoppage, Murray played more
consistently when they resumed. Murray’s last chance of saving the match was at 4-4 in the second set when he held four points against serve for a 5-4 lead.

But they slipped away from him and Murray lost on Lu’s first match point.

“I don’t want to make any excuses about the conditions,” Murray said. “I had chances, he played better than me on the big points. In between the matches, I grabbed some food, slept for half an hour in the massage room, hit for 15-20 minutes and tried to do all the right things.”

His brother will be hoping he does all the right things as he concentrates on the rest of the doubles tournament.

Aldridge blast for teenaged diving partner Daley

At least there was a degree of harmony in the Murray doubles partnership. The same could not be said of Britain’s synchro diving pair, Blake Aldridge and 14-year-old wunderkind Tom Daley after they under-performed at the Water Cube and wound up eighth and last in the final.

Daley, pictured, and Aldridge’s performances together earlier in the year meant that they had an outside shot at a minor medal, but after lying in third position after the first round in Beijing, their performances tailed off in the final four rounds of dives.

Aldridge heaped the blame on his edgy younger partner and the intense media attention he has received since winning the individual European title earlier in the summer.

“I knew we were capable of a medal but I knew it would depend on how Tom performed,” said Aldridge.

“I didn’t blow anything, so I can go home happy. Unfortunately it’s a partnership, you both have to be on the top of your game. I wasn’t on top of my game but Tom was nowhere near the top of his.”

Aldridge even revealed that the pair had had a minor row before the final round over his taking a phone call from a family member in the audience.

“He had a pop at me before the last dive. I saw my mum in the audience and I asked her to give me a call and Tom went to me ‘Why are you on the phone? We’re still in the competition and we’ve got another dive to do.’

“That’s just Thomas – he’s over-nervous. Thomas should not be worrying about what I’m doing but he was worrying about everyone and everything and that to me is really the sole reason why he didn’t perform.

“I wasn’t on the top of my game, but I out-dived Thomas and that’s not something that normally happens. That to me is because he had a lot more pressure on him than I did.

“It was hard work for me today. Tom was very nervous, more so than ever before. I think he really struggled to get through the competition.

“I certainly think the media played a part in that and also just the Olympic Games, it is a massive event.”

For Aldridge, from London, matters may not get much better when he returns home from Beijing. His diving alma mater, Crystal Palace Diving Institute, run by former European and Commonwealth champion Chris Snode, is on the brink of closure after not being able to use the training facilities at the National Sports Centre for the past year.

Click here to read: Adlington makes British swim history by her fingertips

Click here to read previous blog entries from Barry Newcombe in Beijing

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