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You cannot be serious: Murray hits back at McEnroe claim

June 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 


Andy Murray has slammed John McEnroe’s claim the world number one should be seen as ‘a distant fourth’ behind old rivals Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.


Murray begins his Wimbledon preparations this week as he defends his title in the grass-court tournament at Queen’s Club and American legend McEnroe may have given the Scot a little extra motivation with his criticism.

Although Wimbledon champion Murray remains top of the rankings, the 30-year-old has struggled this year, while Nadal and Federer have enjoyed unexpected revivals.

At Wimbledon, Federer will be hoping to clinch a 19th Grand Slam, while Nadal and Djokovic are gunning for their 16th and 13th respectively.

McEnroe told the Sunday Times that Murray, who has won three major titles, can’t be ranked on the same level as his ‘Big Four’ rivals.

But while the Scot admits that rings true for their whole careers, he pointed to his record at the Olympics, where he has won two singles gold medals, as evidence to the contrary.

“For me, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. I’m very proud of the Olympic medals, they mean a lot to me,” Murray said at Queen’s Club on Sunday.

“Within tennis, a lot of people just go ‘oh that guy was a better player because he won more Grand Slams than that one or that woman was better because she won more Grand Slams’.

“If that’s the case then what is the point in all of us being here today? Why is everyone here covering this event? There are other tournaments outside the slams as well.

“If you look at the titles and everything those guys have won, I can’t compare myself to them.

“There’s maybe one or two things that I have done that they won’t have but for the most part I would have been fourth.

“But it’s not true of the last year because I’m ranked number one in the world. I’ve been better than them for the last 12 months, that’s how the ranking systems work.”

Murray also stood by his recent claim that he may only have two or three more years left challenging for major honours, despite Federer winning the Australian Open aged 35 in January.

“It’s really hard, it’s always tough to stay at the top of any sport,” Murray said.

“I hope I stay at the top of the game for five, six, seven years but I think just because Roger’s done it doesn’t mean that’s going to happen to everyone.

“Right now, I feel good, but we’ll have to see how I am.”

Murray will face British number four Aljaz Bedene at Queen’s on Tuesday as he looks to hold onto the title he won for a record fifth time last year.

‘Garbage’ man Murray, Nadal eye dream final

June 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 


Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal can edge closer to an intriguing French Open final rich in landmark moments on Friday after drastically contrasting campaigns in Paris.


World number one Murray was the first British man in the Roland Garros final since Bunny Austin in 1937 when he finished runner-up to Novak Djokovic last year.

Two more victories, however, starting with his semi-final against 2015 winner Stan Wawrinka, would make him the first Briton to lift the men’s trophy since Fred Perry 82 years ago.

Nadal, who tackles Dominic Thiem, the conqueror of defending champion Djokovic, is bidding to become the first man to capture the same major on 10 occasions.

Murray arrived in France suffering from a fever, the latest woe in a season which has seen him endure an elbow injury, flu and shingles.

“I came in playing garbage,” admitted the 30-year-old of a Masters clay-court swing which saw him exit in the third round in Monte Carlo and Madrid and lose his opener in Rome.

“If someone had offered me a semi-final spot before the tournament, I would have signed up for that.”

His form in Paris has sent out mixed messages.

He needed four sets to get past Andrey Kuznetsov and Martin Klizan in the first two rounds.

Then, in what was expected to be a third-round ambush, he sailed past Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets and was similarly at ease against Karen Khachanov in the last 16.

However, in the quarter-finals, he dropped the first set against Kei Nishikori before his greater stamina proved decisive.

Nadal, meanwhile, is the hot favourite to collect an unprecedented 10th French Open and 15th career major.

The 31-year-old Spaniard, like Wawrinka and Thiem, hasn’t dropped a set at the tournament.

He should also be the fresher having spent just under eight hours on court through five rounds.

Murray has needed the best part of 14 hours playing time while Wawrinka has been in action for almost 11 hours and Thiem just under 10.

Nadal has dropped just 22 games so far, a figure aided by compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta retiring through injury in the second set of their quarter-final.

Bjorn Borg surrendered just 32 games on his way to the 1978 title, but Nadal insisted he has no interest in such records.

“I don’t know how many games I lost this year, but I really don’t care about this. I only care that I am in the semi-finals,” said Nadal.

“My only goal is try to be ready to play my best. The rest of these things, we can always find behind the stones.”

Wawrinka, like Murray a three-time major winner, has made his trademark understated progress to a third successive Roland Garros semi-final.

The Swiss third seed, at 32, is the oldest man to get to the last four since Jimmy Connors back in 1985.

He trails Murray in head-to-head meetings 10-7 and lost to the Briton in four sets in the semi-finals last year.

Wawrinka has lost 54 games — identical to the figure at the same stage in 2015 when he became champion.

“In the semi-final last year, Andy was really aggressive,” said Wawrinka.

“He was pushing me all the time, so it was tough for me to find any solution.”

Wawrinka, Nadal and Murray in the semi-finals means it’s only the third time that three men over 30 have got to this stage.

It happened at Roland Garros in 1968 and at this year’s Australian Open.

However, Thiem won’t mind being the odd man out.

The 23-year-old Austrian condemned Djokovic to a first straight-sets loss at a major in four years in his stunning quarter-final triumph, avenging his defeat to the Serb in the 2016 semi-finals.

He is the only man this year to have defeated Nadal on clay with his last-eight win in Rome offsetting losses in the final in Barcelona and Madrid.

“It’s going to be the toughest match you can imagine,” admitted sixth seed Thiem, who trails Nadal 4-2 on head to head.

Murray struggled for focus after reaching top

May 25, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 


Andy Murray admits he struggled to stay motivated after a scintillating surge in form that propelled him to the top of the world rankings only a few months ago.

Andy Murray

The Briton usurped Novak Djokovic to become world number one for the first time at the end of last year, but approaches the French Open next week on a poor run.

Murray turned 30 last week but there has been little to celebrate on the court, with his latest defeat coming at the Rome Masters when he lost his second-round match to local favourite Fabio Fognini.

Rafael Nadal’s red-hot form makes him the favourite at Roland Garros when the French Open begins on Sunday and Murray told AFP in Paris: “Maintaining your motivation, your focus and concentration for a very long period is difficult.

“At the end of last year I put in a lot of effort, focus and I achieved a very big goal.

“I had a similar period after I won my first Grand Slam tournament at the US Open and also after I won Wimbledon for the first time, especially Wimbledon because I felt like there was nothing… That’s why I was playing tennis, to win Wimbledon.

“I was the first British player to win Wimbledon for such a long time. When I was done, I was like, ‘Thank God’.

“You have to reset your goals. That’s something I need to do now to look to the future and to keep myself motivated for the big events.”

Murray is renowned for his hard work on the training court and said there is no magic ingredient if he is to win Roland Garros for the first time, having reached last year’s final only to lose to Djokovic in four sets.

“Maybe at the beginning of the year, like in January and February, I was maybe still recovering a little bit from the last year. But the last two months, I just haven’t played well,” Murray said, speaking at an event in the French capital by his sponsor Under Armour.

“I had a small issue with my ankle, you know so practising and stuff with it may be not as good as it needed to be.

“I spoke to my team about that, I wanted to get back to work. To do that, I have been training very hard, spending a lot of time practising and working on my game.

“That’s the best way to get your confidence back.”

After crashing out in the third round of the Madrid Masters earlier this month to unheralded Borna Coric, Murray acknowledged his slump in form was a cause for concern.

He also suffered a shock fourth-round exit at the Australian Open to Mischa Zverev in January and told AFP that it was a tough balancing act between missing tournaments to recover while also trying to retain his prized top ranking.

“If you miss a lot of tournaments your ranking drops and people say, ‘He’s only ranked number seven in the world, he’s not that good.’

“But to get the balance of playing enough to stay at the ranking you maybe deserve or the level you feel you’re playing at, and to take enough rest so you’re able to maintain your best level for long enough, is always a challenge.”

Murray bows out as Djokovic marches on in Madrid

May 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 


World number one Andy Murray’s slump in form continued as he crashed out of in the Madrid Masters third round 6-3, 6-3 to lucky loser Borna Coric on Thursday.


Defending champion Novak Djokovic did ease into the quarter-finals, though, with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Feliciano Lopez.

Coric was only handed a late reprieve to enter the draw in Madrid after losing in qualifying to Mikhail Kukushkin.

However, Murray cut a frustrated figure as he was swept aside by 20-year-old Croatian for the second time in the pair’s four meetings.

Coric broke the fragile Murray serve three times in the first set under the roof at the Manolo Santana centre court due to rain in the Spanish capital.

And one poor service game from the Wimbledon champion cost him dear in the second as Coric served out for the match to set up a quarter-final meeting with Grigor Dimitrov or Dominic Thiem.

Djokovic has had his own struggles of late.

The Serb parted ways with his coaching staff of 10 years last week after also suffering early exits at the Australian Open and Monte Carlo Masters.

However, he believes he is making slow but steady progress after seeing off Lopez and a partisan crowd to reach the last eight.

“If you’re playing against a Spanish player in Madrid, it’s obviously a different game, it’s a different feeling,” said Djokovic.

“They have a lot of support. You need to kind of hold your nerve, hold your concentration, and use all the necessary energy at the right moments.”

Djokovic was dominant on serve throughout, facing only one break point in the opening game of the second set.

And the 12-time Grand Slam champion applied just enough pressure at the right time to break Lopez’s serve in the final game of both sets.

Djokovic faces a much tougher test on Friday against world number eight Kei Nishikori, who earlier swept aside David Ferrer 6-4, 6-3.

However, Nishikori has only won two of their previous 13 meetings.

“Novak is someone that I don’t have good record (against),” said the Japanese.

“I got to stay really positive and I got to play great tennis to beat him. I try to enjoy my big challenge tomorrow.”

Rafael Nadal’s quest for a third straight title after wins in Monte Carlo and Barcelona faces a stiff test against Nick Kyrgios in the night session.

David Goffin awaits the winner of that clash after the Belgian beat world number six Milos Raonic 6-4, 6-2.

Twenty-year-old German Alexander Zverev continued his fine form after claiming his second title of the year in Munich last week as he ousted 11th seed Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-4.

In the women’s Madrid Open, third seed Simona Halep remains on course to defend her title as she thrashed American Coco Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-1.

Halep faces Latvian Anastasija Sevastova in Friday’s semi-finals after the world number 22 saw off Kiki Bertens 6-3, 6-3.

France’s Kristina Mladenovic also reached the last four in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 over Sorana Cristea.

Murray heads for Indian Wells after Dubai tennis triumph

March 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 


Andy Murray solidified his position at the top of the rankings through a 6-3, 6-2 defeat of Fernando Verdasco to win the Dubai Tennis Championships for the first time on Saturday.


Murray, 29, claimed the trophy in the emirate after finishing runner-up to Roger Federer in 2012.

Now the Scot and his team face a 16-hour flight halfway around the world to Los Angeles to prepare for the start of the Indian Wells Masters in less than a week.

“It’s direct but it’s still a long flight, it will take a few days to get over that,” said Murray after claiming his 45th career title.

“This week has given me great momentum which I hope to use going to Indian Wells and Miami.”

His win on Saturday allowed Murray to become the first British champion in the 25-year history of the Dubai tournament.

He was playing in his seventh final in his last eight tournaments and 14th final in his last 16 events.

He holds a healthy points lead over number two Novak Djokovoic, with the off-form Serb facing immense title defence pressure in both Indian Wells and Miami over the next four weeks.

The Scot is amazed at his winning form stretching back to last autumn when he made his run to surpass Djokovic for the top ranking position.

“It’s obviously been a good run. You want to try and peak and play your best tennis at the Slams, but you know, giving yourself a lot of matches gives you confidence to go into those big events.

“Conditions, again, are totally different than Indian Wells, which is a very slow court with fast balls – the other way around from here.

“I have to get there and adjust to that. Winning this week is fantastic, I feel good. I was a bit tired yesterday, but I felt a lot better today.

“I’m trying to get to Indian Wells much earlier than I did last year. I’ll arrive on Sunday, which is a good thing.

“Even though it’s a long trip, it gives me five, six days to get ready before my first match.”

Murray improved his record over 35th-ranked left-hander Verdasco to 13 wins and just one loss.

He was playing in his second final of 2017 after losing to Djokovic in nearby Doha during the opening week of the season in January.

The first three games of the contest featured breaks of serve before Murray steadied, breaking for 5-3 and taking the opening set.

In the second, Murray earned a 2-1 lead as he eased to victory.

Despite his defeat, Verdasco will return to the top 30 for the first time since April 2015 thanks to his run to the final.

“I think that obviously I had, if not the toughest opponent I can have in the final, then one of them, for sure,” said Verdasco.

“He’s number one in the world right now. It was obviously a really difficult final to win, but I came trying everything and giving everything.

“I said yesterday that being in the final of a 500 after five years is a great week for me and I have to take the positive things.”

Murray survives seven match points in Dubai epic

March 3, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 


Andy Murray saved seven match points to reach the semi-finals of the Dubai Championships with a marathon 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (20/18), 6-1 win over Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber on Thursday.


The top seed managed to avoid joining second seed Stan Wawrinka and seven-time winner Roger Federer on the sidelines after the Swiss pair crashed out in earlier rounds.

But world number one Murray needed to scrap and struggle for almost three hours against 33-year-old Kohlschreiber, with the pair duelling in a 31-minute second-set tiebreaker which determined the final direction of the epic quarter-final.

“It was very rewarding to come through a match like that and obviously I’m very pleased to get through it,” Murray said.

“I would have been very disappointed if I’d lost the second set, but also, I didn’t feel like I was playing badly.

“I played a poor tiebreak in the first set, but apart from that, I felt I was playing pretty well and he was playing really good stuff.”

The Scot held off Kohlschreiber’s match points, but still needed eight set points to take the contest into a decisive final set.

The result ended Kohlschreiber’s quest for a 400th match win.

Thursday’s dramatic second set equalled five other 20-18 tiebreaks recorded since tiebreak scores were first kept in 1991.

Such was the drama that Murray and Kohlschreiber forgot to change ends at 15/15, instead changing at 16/16.

“I’ve never played a tiebreak that long ever. Not in juniors, nothing even close to that, I’ll probably never play another one like that again,” Murray said.

“I’ve have been playing on the tour for 11, 12 years now, and nothing’s been close to that.”

Murray will next meet French seventh seed Lucas Pouille who defeated Russian qualifier Evgeny Donskoy — the man who stunned Federer — 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (7/2).

Pouille, who has lost all three matches he has played against Murray, completed his quarter-final win at 1.46 on Friday morning in Dubai.

Murray has never won the Dubai title, but came close in 2012 when he was runner-up to Federer.

In the bottom half of the draw, fourth seed Gael Monfils fired 10 aces but still crashed out 6-3, 7-5 to Fernando Verdasco.

The French showman was unable to make a major impression in a match which was paused for almost half an hour in the closing stages due to light rain.

Spain’s Verdasco will play his second semi-final of the season on Friday, facing Dutchman Robin Haase, a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 winner over Bosnian Damir Dzumhur.

Monfils lost for the first time in four meetings against Verdasco, with the unseeded Spaniard taking charge from the start.

Verdasco spent 35 minutes in winning the opening set and set about consolidating in the second.

The 33-year-old, ranked 35th, broke for 3-2 with Monfils saving three break points in the seventh game to stay in touch.

But Verdasco then produced a love game for 5-3 just before rain stopped play. The Spaniard finally prevailed after 81 minutes.

“I played almost a perfect match,” Verdasco said. “I’m very happy, it was a really complete match in all the ways that you can imagine.”

Murray says fully fit for Dubai ATP

February 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 


Andy Murray leads a trio of Grand Slam champions into the Dubai Tennis Championships, their first matches since the Australian Open, with the Scot now fully fit after a bout of shingles.


The world number one revealed on Sunday that he had consulted doctors in London earlier this month about the painful skin condition upon his return following a fourth-round Melbourne loss to Mischa Zverev.

“I’m fine now, I’ve been training flat-out for the past few weeks,” Murray said in Dubai after light rain interrupted preparations for the tournament starting Monday.

He said he had “had to go easy for a little while.I didn’t notice anything anyway until I got back from Australia.”

Murray, 29, the top seed, begins his campaign in the Gulf against Tunisian Malek Jaziri in the first round. Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland is seeded second with compatriot and seven-time champion Roger Federer third.

“I know him fairly well but I’ve never trained with him, he’s very talented with big forehand,” Murray said of Jaziri.

Murray, losing finalist to Federer five years ago here, is competing in the emirate for the first time since 2015, when he lost a quarter-final to Borna Coric.

Defending champion Wawrinka is on the way back from injury which kept him from the Rotterdam indoor event earlier this month. Federer will be testing himself with back-to-back matches after his historic Australian Open title.

“This is a little bit of the unknown,” the 35-year-old Swiss said. “I’ve said it’s going to take me until April to know exactly where I stand and see if I feel my best.

“I’m still a work in progress, let’s see how my body will react. My recent weeks in the Swiss Alps means I’m fresh again.”

Wawrinka takes on Damir Dzumhur while Federer opens against Frenchman Benoit Paire, whom he has defeated three times but last played four years ago.

France’s Gael Monfils will make the quick-change from Marseille indoors to take part as fourth seed, ahead of Czech Tomas Berdych and Spain’s sixth seed Roberto Bautista Agut, crowned Chennai champion in January.

Murray takes aim at Australian Open jinx

January 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 


Andy Murray sets out Monday to end a record run of Australian Open final defeats as his great rival Novak Djokovic vies to become the tournament’s greatest champion of all-time.


World number one Murray is looking to avoid becoming the first man in the post-1968 Open era to lose six Grand Slam finals at the same major.

His coach Ivan Lendl lost five finals at the US Open before he broke through in New York in 1985.

Murray, who opens his campaign with a match against Ukraine’s Illya Marchenko on Rod Laver Arena, says he’s in a better position this time to finally break through for his maiden Australian Open.

“I obviously feel pretty confident after the way the last season finished,” Murray said.

“I do love it here. I love the conditions. I have played really well here over the years, and I just haven’t managed to get over the final hurdle.

“But I think I’m in a decent position to do it. I think I have a chance to win here.”

Murray is coming off a magnificent 2016 which included a second Wimbledon crown, a successful Olympic title defence and knocking Djokovic off the top spot to become world number one for the first time.

Murray is drawn to meet Japanese fifth seed Nishikori or Swiss legend Roger Federer in the quarters and 2014 winner Wawrinka in the semis.

He has Lendl back in his team and is conscious he has to keep improving to keep his rivals at bay to hold on to the world’s top ranking.

“The reality is, in sport, that things keep moving on, the game will get better. I’ll obviously get older, the young guys will continue to improve, and also Novak and Roger (Federer) and Stan (Wawrinka) and Rafa (Nadal) and all the guys at the top are still going to be wanting to get there,” he said.

“So that’s why having someone like Ivan on my team who has been in that position before and knows what that’s like has been important.

“I need to continue to improve. I need to keep working hard.”

Murray knows that Djokovic will be gunning for him in the year’s first Grand Slam where he has a fantastic record of six finals and six victories going back to 2008.

The 12-time Grand Slam champion can take outright ownership of the record for Australian titles if he wins for a seventh time in Melbourne.

The Serb is currently tied with Australia’s Roy Emerson on six Australian titles.

“One of the reasons I’m here is to try to win every match that I play, and eventually the title,” Djokovic said.

Djokovic faces a potential banana-skin in the first round against experienced Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.

Verdasco, ranked 40, has beaten Djokovic four times in their 13 encounters and the Serb had to save five match points in beating him earlier this month in the semi-finals in Doha.

Last year, Verdasco knocked out compatriot Rafael Nadal in a five-setter first round thriller in Melbourne.

Should Djokovic get off to a winning start he is seeded to face Brisbane International winner Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round, powerful Austrian eighth seed Dominic Thiem in the quarters and Canada’s big-serving third seed Milos Raonic in the semi-finals.

Outside the top two, the main hopes rest with reigning US Open champion Stan Wawrinka, who won in Melbourne in 2014, Raonic and Japanese hope Kei Nishikori.

Grand Slam warriors Federer and Nadal should also be in the mix, but they lack match time and their rankings have slipped.

Seventeen-time Grand Slam great Federer, who at 17 is out of the top 10 for the first time since late 2002, is easing his way back after six months out with a knee injury, while 14-time Grand Slam winner Nadal is coming off another injury-hit season.

Murray, Djokovic face testing draws at Australian Open tennis

January 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 


World number one Andy Murray could face challenges from Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka if he is to reach a sixth Australian Open final following Friday’s draw.


The Scot, coming off a magnificent 2016 with a second Wimbledon crown, a successful Olympic title defence and the year-end top ranking, has lost five Melbourne finals, four of those to defending champion Novak Djokovic.

Murray, who was knighted in Britain’s New Year Honours list, faces Ukraine’s Illya Marchenko first up and could meet Japanese fifth seed Nishikori or Swiss legend Roger Federer in the quarters and 2014 winner Wawrinka in the semis.

Federer, seeded 17, faces a qualifier first up and could play 10th seed Tomas Berdych in the third round as he bids to add to his record 17 Grand Slam titles.

Djokovic, in the bottom half of the men’s draw as the second seed, has a tough first-round against experienced Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.

Verdasco, ranked 40, has beaten Djokovic four times in their 13 encounters and the Serb had to save five match points in prevailing over him earlier this month in the semi-finals in Doha.

Last year Verdasco knocked out compatriot Rafael Nadal in a five-setter first round thriller in Melbourne.

Serbia’s Djokovic, bidding for a record seventh Australian Open title, is seeded to face Brisbane International winner Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round and powerful Austrian eighth seed Dominic Thiem in the quarters.

He could then meet Canada’s big-serving third seed Milos Raonic in the semi-finals.

Raonic opens against flashy German Dustin Brown while 13th seed and recent Chennai champion Roberto Bautista Agut is a likely fourth-round matchup.

Nadal, who won the 2009 Australian Open and has been in two other Melbourne finals, is seeded nine and is in Raonic’s third quarter of the draw and in the bottom half with Djokovic.

The Spanish left-hander could have a third-round clash in store against rising German star Alexander Zverev.

The 24th-seeded Zverev has a string of scalps including two victories over Federer, most recently at this month’s Hopman Cup.

Australia’s explosive Nick Kyrgios is seeded 14 and opens against Portugal’s tricky Gastao Elias and could face Wawrinka in the fourth round.

Former German world number two Tommy Haas, aged 38, is competing in his first tournament since Vienna in October 2015 and will have a first-round match against Frenchman Benoit Paire.

Australian wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis withdrew before the men’s singles draw due to a stomach muscle strain and his spot will be filled by a lucky loser from the qualifying draw.

Djokovic ends Murray’s 28-win streak in Qatar triumph

January 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 


Novak Djokovic brought world number one Andy Murray’s 28-match winning streak to an end in Doha on Saturday to retain the Qatar Open title in a three-set thriller.


Serb star Djokovic won 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 in a high-quality, action-packed match between the two best players in the world lasting almost three hours.

It is Djokovic’s 25th career victory over Murray and puts down an early-season marker against his great British rival, before the Australian Open later this month.

Describing Murray as his “biggest rival”, he said both players had “dragged each other” to their limits.

“Every match we play is a huge challenge, you have to accept and expect a great battle,” Djokovic told reporters.

“You saw tonight how much we both wanted to win.”

He added that he wanted to finish the match off earlier.

“I had three or four match points in the second set, he turned it around and I thought: Wow! I hope this isn’t payback time!

“He was close … all the way to the last shot you never know with Andy,” added Djokovic who was penalised a point in the second set after destroying his racquet as the tension mounted.

Despite going into the third set showing signs of frustration and weariness, Djokovic was able to claw away any momentum Murray had to secure his second successive title in Qatar and the $209,665 first prize.

A break of Murray’s serve in the seventh game of the final set — when the Scot looked most likely to win — proved decisive.

Serving for the match, Djokovic secured the title on his fourth match point, having squandered three in the second set when Murray astonishingly recovered from 5-4 down and 40-15 to win three games in a row and force, at that point, an unlikely deciding set.

It was Murray’s first competitive defeat since losing to Juan Martin del Potro in the Davis Cup back in September.

In a typically cagey start between the pair, Djokovic landed the first blow with his only break point of the first set.

In the eighth game of the opener, he came back from 40-15 down to win four consecutive points and break Murray’s serve.

Then, in the seventh game of the second set Djokovic broke Murray again despite falling over and banging his head during one rally.

It seemed to be the decisive blow, but Murray would not be easily brushed aside, rallying to take the game into the decider.

Murray said he was “obviously disappointed” to lose but was not too downbeat.

“I think physically it was a good test to start the year,” he said.

He added that he lost having failed to capitalise on his chances.

“I had a break point at 3-2. In the last game I had love-30 on Novak’s serve and played a couple of loose shots. I think I had the first break point in the first set as well, didn’t get it.

“He had one and took it, that was the difference this evening.”

Murray also dismissed any idea that the defeat would have any impact in the forthcoming Australian Open.

Saturday’s match was the first meeting between the pair since Murray beat the Serb at the ATP World Tour Finals in London in November, snatching Djokovic’s number one ranking in the process.

It was also the 20th time Djokovic has beaten Murray after winning the first set.

Despite the defeat, Murray retains his world number one ranking.

Djokovic still the biggest rival, says Murray

January 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 


World number one Andy Murray insisted Sunday that Novak Djokovic will remain his biggest threat in 2017, as the pair prepare for a potential first clash of the season in Doha this week.


Newly-knighted Murray, speaking ahead of the first round of the Qatar Open which begins on Monday, said the Serb would continue to make life tough for him on court this year.

“In terms of the number one ranking, Novak would be (the biggest threat),” Murray told reporters.

“I had a great sort of four, five months at the end of last year and I still only got to number one by one match basically at the end the year, so I know it will be very tough to stay there.”

Murray also tipped six-times Australian Open champion Djokovic to be the player to beat in Melbourne, when the year’s first Grand Slam begins later this month.

In Qatar, Murray is the number one seed and if matches go to form it will set up a mouth-watering final clash with Djokovic, the number two seed and defending Doha champion, on January 7.

Murray’s first round match is against France’s Jeremy Chardy on Tuesday.

Djokovic begins his title defence on Monday against Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

At this stage last year, Djokovic was dominating men’s tennis and there was much talk of him winning all four Grand Slams in 2016.

But despite winning in Australia and the French Open, Djokovic’s season tailed off in the second half of the season, which saw him crash out in the third round at Wimbledon and losing the US Open final to Stan Wawrinka.

But he denied on Sunday that his game was in “crisis”.

“I don’t see the six months, second six months of 2016 as a failure or anything like that,” he told reporters.

“It’s not in my mindset, I guess, in my philosophy of life to observe things in this way — that I didn’t succeed, that I failed, that I’ve fallen or something like that.

“I just feel like every experience is a blessing one way or another.”

The 12-times Grand Slam winner and former world number one added that he retained his hunger to win.

“Without a doubt, when I’m on the court there is no other thing than to win that tennis match.”

Despite Murray and Djokovic getting top billing in Doha, they are unlikely to get things all their own way this coming week.

Also playing is one of last year’s semi-finalists, Tomas Berdych, this year’s number three seed.

France’s dangerous Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is the number five seed and he has beaten Murray and Djokovic a total of eight times in his career.

The Qatar Open, now in its 25th year, has not been successfully defended since Murray won back in 2009.

Arise ‘Sir Andy’, ‘Sir Mo’ as Murray, Farah knighted

December 31, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 


Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah will each receive a knighthood in the New Year Honours.


Murray’s knighthood caps a dream season for the Scot, who finished as the year-end world number one for the first time after ending Novak Djokovic’s long spell at the top.

The 29-year-old clinched a second Wimbledon title in July before successfully defending his Olympic singles crown and then winning a first ATP Tour Finals crown to stop Djokovic regaining first place.

Murray, previously honoured with an OBE in 2012, became a father for the first time in February and earlier this month was voted the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for a record third time.

“Obviously it is the highest honour you can get in this country. But I feel like I’m too young for something like that,” said Murray before the announcement was made on Friday.

“When I win any award or am presented with anything it is nice because it is recognition for what you have given your life to — up to now anyway.

“I am still young and there are still a lot of things that can go wrong. I could still mess up and make mistakes. I am just trying to keep doing what I am doing, working hard and achieving stuff.”

Farah receives his knighthood after he retained his 5,000 and 10,000 metres titles at the Rio Olympics, becoming the first British track and field athlete to win four Olympic gold medals.

The 33-year-old Somalia-born athlete is already a CBE following his double gold at London 2012.

“I’m so happy to be awarded this incredible honour from the country that has been my home since I moved here at the age of eight,” Farah said.

“Looking back at the boy who arrived here from Somalia, not speaking any English, I could never have imagined where I would be today. It’s a dream come true.

“I’m so proud to have had the opportunity to race for my country and win gold medals for the British people, who have been my biggest supporters throughout my career.

“My successes have only been possible because of their support and the commitment, sacrifices and love of my amazing family and the team around me now and over the years.”

Para-equestrian Lee Pearson is also knighted after adding gold from the Individual Freestyle grade Ib and silver in Dressage to his golds in Beijing and London.

The decorated Paralympian already held the MBE, OBE and CBE for services to equestrianism and to disabled sport.

Damehoods go to heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill and rower Katherine Grainger, who both retired from competitive action following the 2016 Rio Games.

Ennis-Hill, who had returned to compete in Rio after becoming a mother, has been made a Dame for services to athletics.

The 30-year-old from Sheffield added silver at the 2016 Games to her gold at London, and was already a CBE.

Grainger receives her damehood for services to sport and charity, the veteran rower having come out of retirement to compete in Rio, where she won silver in the double sculls alongside Vicky Thornley.

Murray, Djokovic target year-end top spot

November 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 


Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic will stage a dramatic battle to finish 2016 on top of the world as the two old rivals aim for the title at the ATP Tour Finals.


A friendly rivalry that began 15 years ago when they first faced off in European junior tournaments will reach a new level over the week as they fight to end the year as the world number one.

Murray shattered Djokovic’s 122-week reign at the top last weekend when the Wimbledon champion became the first British man to reach pole position in the ATP rankings.

But Murray has only a 405-point lead over Djokovic in the rankings and the Scot can be passed by the Serb if he doesn’t match or better his rival’s performance at the prestigious season-ending event at London’s O2 Arena.

As the top two seeds, Murray and Djokovic have been drawn in different groups in the eight-player tournament, meaning they can’t meet before the semi-finals.

If their 35th Tour-level meeting comes in the final, it would be a fitting occasion to decide the top ranking, which last changed hands at the Tour Finals in 2001 when Lleyton Hewitt supplanted Gustavo Kuerten.

Murray has enjoyed an incredible 11 months on and off the court in which he has won Wimbledon for the second time, claimed a second Olympic singles gold medal and become a father to baby daughter Sophia.

“This year is the best I’ve had on court, the last few months have been the best in terms of my consistency,” Murray said.

“Away from the court it’s been by far the best in my life, a big change and a great change. I’ve really enjoyed being a parent.

“When I step on the court I will have a little more confidence and feel better about myself.

“I don’t want to spend time discussing what’s happened in the last few months. I want to keep getting better.

“That’s what I’ve always tried to do. I don’t feel any different.”

Although Murray has lost 24 of his clashes with Djokovic, few of his peers on the Tour question his right to be number one after such a strong year.

Djokovic agrees, saying: “I have only words of praise for what he has achieved in the last year or so.

“Definitely he is a well deserved number one at this point. He has been the best player for the last six months without a doubt.

“Whether he can sustain that is not a question for me but looking at his qualities and commitment there is a good chance he can play at this level for a long time.”

Djokovic has been in a slump since winning the French Open in June to complete his career Grand Slam, raising questions about his appetite for continued success.

But the 12-time major winner might find the O2 Arena is the ideal venue to restore his confidence.

He has won the Tour Finals for the last four years and another success this year would equal Roger Federer’s record of six titles.

With Federer and Rafael Nadal both absent due to injury, Djokovic and Murray will be the centre of attention.

They could have very different paths to the trophy as Djokovic holds a remarkable 23-0 combined record against Milos Raonic, Gael Monfils and Dominic Thiem, who comprise his group stage opponents.

In contrast, Murray, who has never been past the semi-finals of the event, has to survive a tricky group featuring US Open champion Stan Wawrinka, as well as Japan’s Kei Nishikoriand Croatian Marin Cilic, who have both beaten the Scot this year.

Golden era makes top ranking sweeter, says Murray

November 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 


Newly-minted world number one Andy Murray admitted rising to the top of the rankings amid a golden era in men’s tennis made his achievement even more satisfying.


Murray, 29, will replace long-time rival Novak Djokovic at the summit when the latest ATP rankings are released next week after reaching the final of the Paris Masters on Saturday.

The Scot received a walkover into Sunday’s final after Milos Raonic was struck down by a leg injury sustained in his quarter-final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Regardless of Murray’s result against American John Isner in the final, he will end Djokovic’s reign and become just the fourth different player to top the rankings since 2004.

Murray follows in the footsteps of record 17-time major champion Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic — all of whom have completed a career Grand Slam — in ascending to number one.

“I think that’s the most satisfying thing, really. It’s been such a difficult thing to do during my career because of how good the guys around me have been, the guys ahead of me,” said Murray.

“I mean, even this year, the year I have had to have to even be there for one week and be like 20 points ahead or whatever.

“I have had to win so many matches and get to the latter stage of pretty much every tournament that I have played. It’s just been — it’s been really, really hard to do it, been really difficult.

“Obviously they are three of the best players that have ever played the game and had some of the years that they have had in that period, as well, have been ridiculous, really, like three slams and double slams and many Masters Series, as well.

“So, you know, it’s taken a great year to get there.”

Murray suffered an eighth Grand Slam final defeat in 10 attempts when he was beaten in four sets by Djokovic at the French Open in June.

He admitted knocking Djokovic from his pedestal as world number one couldn’t have been further from his mind at the time, making Murray’s rapid rise all the more incredible.

“It’s something I have never achieved before and wasn’t something that I necessarily felt like I was going to do even this year, even after the French Open or the beginning of the year.

“I was so far behind in terms of points, and, you know, the amount of matches it would take me to win. I never expected to do what I had done after the French Open, so I was really down after I lost that match.”

Despite being second in the rankings, Murray was a staggering 8,000 points behind Djokovic after the 12-time major winner claimed the final Grand Slam missing from his list of honours.

“But things can turn around quick in sport, and it’s just a strange sport,” added Murray, who will become the 26th different world number one since computerised rankings began in 1973.

“You had Novak losing yesterday to a guy who won 14 times in a row against. And then John beating (Marin) Cilic today who he’d lost six in a row against the following day.

“Stuff can turn around quick, and the last few months have been really good.”

Murray has won a career-high 72 matches this year, while a first Paris Masters title would increase his record haul to eight for the season.

The Scot is also riding an 18-match winning streak — excluding Saturday’s walkover — after title runs in Beijing, Shanghai and Vienna.

Murray one win from top spot as Djokovic crashes

November 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 


Andy Murray closed to within one victory of becoming the world’s top-ranked player for the first time after defeating Tomas Berdych in the Paris Masters quarter-finals on Friday.


Marin Cilic had earlier dumped out a struggling Novak Djokovic to pave the way for Murray to supplant the Serb at the top.

But Murray was forced to save seven set points in an extraordinary opening tie-break before clinching a 7-6 (11/9), 7-5 win in just under two hours.

The Briton will meet Milos Raonic in Saturday’s semi-finals knowing that a victory will move him above Djokovic, who has been on top of the world rankings for 122 weeks.

“Before the match there were a few more nerves maybe than there was earlier in the week. But once I got out there, I didn’t feel any different to any other match,” said Murray.

“If it happens this week, great. But if not, I’m not putting any extra pressure on myself this week because I still think I have an opportunity to do it in the future.

“But obviously I’d love to do it tomorrow if I can.”

Neither Murray nor Berdych showed any signs of fragility as the first set went on serve, but the wheels fell off in spectacular fashion for the Czech after he raced 6-1 ahead in the tie-break.

Murray chalked up six straight points to earn a set point of his own, with Berdych then squandering two more before the second seed finally edged ahead.

He broke Berdych to start the second set and looked on course to wrap things up, but a lapse at 5-4 saw him require a second chance.

Berdych, who needed to reach the last four to stay in the race for the Tour Finals in London, handed him that opportunity by again losing his serve, with Murray sealing it on his fourth match point.

Cilic had lost all 14 previous meetings with Djokovic but snapped that miserable run with a 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) victory.

Djokovic, the record four-time champion, arrived in Paris needing to reach the final to ensure he remained ahead of a rapidly approaching Murray.

But the Serb’s bid to register a fourth straight title in the French capital ended abruptly as an improbable escape act fizzled out against an in-form Cilic.

“Credit to Marin and congratulations. He definitely played better today, and he deserved to win,” said 29-year-old Djokovic.

“I wasn’t on the level that I could have been on. Obviously, there are things I could have done better. And just in important moments I wasn’t able to deliver.”

Ninth seed Cilic, who on Thursday became the seventh London qualifier, broke immediately to signal his intent against a player who had totally dominated him in his career.

In typical fashion Djokovic then hit back straight away to level, but Cilic’s confidence was undimmed and the Croat capitalised on a shaky service game from his opponent at 5-4 to grab the opening set.

Former US Open champion Cilic threatened again early in the second, but Djokovic landed a crucial breakthrough at 4-all to serve for the set.

The top seed uncharacteristically gifted the break back, though, after a pair of costly double faults, and Cilic had him on the ropes as two match points passed by at 6-5 on a faltering Djokovic serve.

There was to be no remarkable recovery either for Djokovic, as Cilic took charge in the tie-break and closed out a famous win at the fourth attempt.

“It’s good for me, I played great tennis. He had beat me 14 times but we had close matches and that helped me play better,” said Cilic.

American John Isner awaits Cilic in last four after he outlasted compatriot Jack Sock 7-6, (8/6), 4-6, 6-4.

Isner and Sock teamed up to win the doubles in Shanghai last month, but a 33rd match — singles and doubles combined — in as many days for Sock ultimately proved a step too far.

Raonic defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) in the late quarter-final, a result which allowed Austria’s Dominic Thiem to tie up the eighth and last spot in the World Tour Finals next week.

Murray to face Verdasco in Paris opener

November 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 


Andy Murray will meet Fernando Verdasco in his opening match at the Paris Masters after the Spaniard advanced at the expense of injured Dutchman Robin Haase on Monday.


Verdasco, a former world number seven, was leading 6-2, 3-2 before a hip injury forced Haase to throw in the towel in their first-round encounter.

World number two Murray can dethrone Novak Djokovic at the top of the rankings with victory in the French capital if the Serb fails to reach the final, or if the Briton makes the final and Djokovic falls before the semis.

Former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis defeated French wildcard Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 6-4, while Benoit Paire joined the French exodus after losing 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) to Paolo Lorenzi.

Pablo Carreno Busta, who defeated Fabio Fognini to lift the Kremlin Cup in Moscow a week ago, dealt the Italian another loss in Paris, racing to a 6-3, 6-1 victory.

Djokovic takes on the winner of Tuesday’s match between Nicolas Almagro and Gilles Muller after receiving a first-round bye, while US Open champion Stan Wawrinka begins against Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff, who thrashed Illya Marchenko 6-1, 6-1.

Tomas Berdych is ninth in the Race to London standings with the Czech needing to progress to the last four to remain in with a chance of playing at the end-of-season Tour finals next month.

He trails Dominic Thiem and Marin Cilic, a winner in Basel at the weekend, in the battle for the final two places in the eight-man field and must beat Portugal’s Joao Sousa to remain in contention.

Murray closes in on Djokovic

October 31, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 


Andy Murray’s third win on the bounce in Vienna lifted him up to 10985 points in the latest ATP rankings published Monday and one win away from toppling Novak Djokovic at number one.

Murray’s 6-3, 7-6 (8/6) defeat of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Austria was his third win of the month after picking up the China Open and Shanghai Masters.

If the 29-year-old Scot manages to extend his red hot form into this week’s Paris Masters he will become number one with success at Bercy next Sunday and Djokovic fails to make the final.

The Olympic and Wimbledon champion can also take over the ATP summit if he reaches the final and the Serb loses before the semis in the French capital.

Latest ATP rankings: 1. Novak Djokovic (SRB) 12.900 pts 2. Andy Murray (GBR) 10.985 3. Stan Wawrinka (SUI) 5.865 4. Kei Nishikori (JPN) 4.905 (+1) 5. Milos Raonic (CAN) 4.690 (-1) 6. Rafael Nadal (ESP) 4.080 7. Gal Monfils (FRA) 3.635 (+1) 8. Dominic Thiem (AUT) 3.250 (+1) 9. Roger Federer (SUI) 3.220 (-2) 10. Marin Cilic (CRO) 3.100 (+2) 11. Tomas Berdych (CZE) 3.060 (-1) 12. David Goffin (BEL) 2.780 (-1) 13. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 2.460 (+2) 14. Nick Kyrgios (AUS) 2.460 (-1) 15. Roberto Bautista (ESP) 2.385 (-1) 16. David Ferrer (ESP) 2.135 (+3) 17. Lucas Pouille (FRA) 2.106 18. Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 2.035 19. Richard Gasquet (FRA) 1.975 (-3) 20. Ivo Karlovic (CRO)

Murray battles past Dimitrov to clinch China Open title

October 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 


Andy Murray out gunned Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 7-6(2) in the final of the China Open on Sunday to claim his 40th career title and continue his pursuit of the world number one spot.

Tennis - China Open men's singles final - Beijing, China - 09/10/16. Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov and Britain's Andy Murray hold their trophies after their match. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Murray closed out the match in an hour and 57 minutes to become the 16th player to win 40 ATP titles.

The Briton is now 1,555 points behind Djokovic in the race to end the year as number one and has plenty of points to play for in Shanghai, Paris and the London Tour finals.

Djokovic did not defend his title in Beijing because of an elbow injury but is expected to play in Shanghai.

It was Murray’s fifth title of what is turning out to be his best year, having reached the Australian Open final, French Open final, winning Wimbledon and the Olympics.

“It’s been the most consistent year of my career, getting to the latter stages of most of the events I have played,” Murray told Sky Sports after dispatching Dimitrov.

“Today’s match was a very high-level match. Grigor fought right to the end and made it extremely tough to finish it in two sets. I’m very happy with the way that I have played the last couple of matches. I will look forward to Shanghai now.”

Murray took the first set and looked set to serve out the second when leading 5-4 before Dimitrov forced a tie break.

The 29-year-old, who did not drop a set in Beijing, earned an immediate mini-break and never looked back.

“Andy’s pretty much the greatest player this year. He’s been winning a lot and has a lot of confidence. He obviously knows how to move well on the court. All the credit to him,” Dimitrov, who has lost three finals this year, said.

Murray will be seeking his third Shanghai title next week where he has a first-round bye. His first match will be against either American Steve Johnson or Slovakian Martin Klizan.

Defending champion Djokovic faces a second-round clash with Italy’s Fabio Fognini.

Nadal crashes, Murray reaches China Open semis

October 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 


Rafael Nadal crashed out of the China Open quarter-finals to 20th-ranked Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov on Friday as Andy Murray swept into his 11th semi of the season.


Despite two breaks in the first set, the 14-time Grand Slam champion struggled with his serve and Dimitrov kept the pressure on for a 6-2, 6-4 victory — his first over the Spaniard.

“Losing five serves in a row is something that you cannot do and win a match like this. That’s it,” Nadal said after the loss.

Nadal, 30, is approaching the end of his second consecutive season without a Slam title since he won his first aged 19 at Roland Garros in 2005.

The loss in the Chinese capital also puts his qualification for an 11th consecutive ATP Final — which brings together the season’s top eight players — in doubt.

Murray beat Davis Cup teammate Kyle Edmund to keep his hopes of dethroning Novak Djokovic for year-end number one alive.

The Scot — who is coming to the end of a career-best season — was forced into a tense 20-point tie break in the first set by his 21-year-old compatriot.

But Edmund was unable to hold his serve in the second and Murray denied him a spot in his first season semi-final with a 7-6 (11/9), 6-2 win.

Fellow Briton Johanna Konta was also smashing dreams Friday as she crushed home favourite Zhang Shuai in two sets.

Buoyed by the home crowd, Zhang broke the Briton twice to take the opening four games of the match.

But at 0-4 down, Konta abruptly turned the tide in her favour, winning 12 consecutive games to book her semi-final place with a 6-4, 6-0 victory.

“During the match I do my best to really try to impose myself on her because she definitely looks to dictate when she can. When she’s able to, she’s very dangerous,” Konta said.

The 14th-ranked Briton is now one win away from joining the ranks of the top 10, which would make her the first British woman to join the elite grouping since Jo Durie in 1984.

Konta next faces American Madison Keys, who ended Petra Kvitova’s eight-match winning streak 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 7-6 (7/5).

Keys exacted revenge against Kvitova in their first meeting since the Czech denied the American a bronze medal in Rio.

A double fault by Kvitova turned the first set in Keys’ favour but it was the Czech’s 32 unforced errors to Keys’ 25 that ultimately decided the semi-final place.

Keys, 21, made her top 10 debut this year and the big hitter — who is often cast as a successor to 22-Grand Slam champion Serena Williams — is also chasing her first qualification for the elite WTA Finals in Singapore.

With her quarter-final win she moves into seventh in the Race to Singapore leaderboard, but Konta is hot on her heels.

On the men’s side, Ferrer dispatched German youngster Alexander Zverev while Wimbledon runner up Milos Raonic saw off Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 6-4, 6-4.

Zverev, 19, was looking to cap a breakout season with a strong Beijing run, but was unable to capitalise on his first set lead as he was beaten by Ferrer 6-7 (4/7), 6-1, 7-5.

Murray and Nadal ease into second round of China Open

October 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 


World number two Andy Murray overwhelmed Italy’s Andreas Seppi 6-2 7-5 and second seed Rafael Nadal crushed veteran Italian Paolo Lorenzi 6-1 6-1 to reach the China Open second round on Tuesday.


Briton Murray, three-times a grand slam champion, showed no signs of fatigue having just recovered from a thigh injury and wrapped up the match in under an hour and 30 minutes.

“I thought I did okay considering I hadn’t played much the past couple of weeks. I think I can do better,” Murray told reporters.

“There was some good stuff in there. With each match, I’ll play better hopefully. No injuries. Felt fine. Just need matches now,” the top seed added.

Murray will play the winner of the all-Russian clash between Andrey Kuznetsov and Konstantin Kravchuk in the next round.

Nadal, who won the China Open in 2005, won 79 percent of his first-serve points to breeze past the 34-year-old Lorenzi.

The 30-year-old Spaniard will next face compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas or French qualifier Adrian Mannarino.

Third seed Milos Raonic beat Germany’s Florian Mayer 6-4 7-6(1) and the big-serving Canadian will meet either Argentina’s Guido Pella or Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri in the next round.

During a rain-hit day in Beijing, Germany’s Alexander Zverev upset fourth seed Dominic Thiem 4-6 6-1 6-3 to advance to a second-round clash with American Jack Sock.

Defending champion and world number one Novak Djokovic withdrew from the tournament due to an elbow injury.

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