ATP Tennis 360

November 26, 2009 7:31 PM

Murray, a victim of the system

"You are a victim of the system, you're your own worst enemy" sings the Greenday in "Restless Heart Syndrome". A message that fits perfectly to Andy Murray, out of the World Tour Finals nonetheless two wins because he has, at the end of the day, a worst game count compared to Federer and Del Potro. More synthetically, Andy has won one game less than the necessary.

Now, we could affirm that Delpo played complessively better than the Scotster, even today standing inexplicably near the line-judge for most of the match, and deserved more than Andy to be in the semifinals, although he lost the direct meeting.

And not considering the result in the direct match is probably the greatest incongruity of a formula, who failed in his brief presence in the ATP circuit outside the "reserve" of the Masters Cup to convince anyone of his opportunity. Because tennis is not football, and the emphatically considered the tennis World Cup can't be inspired to the rainbow-striped competition. Even Blatter has been criticised for the World Cup Formula, because in the last days it led teams to do "dangerous" calculations in terms of goal differences and, sometimes, bribe matches (like the "Marmelada peruana" in 1978, the West Germany-Austria affair in 1982, or Brazil-Norway in 1998 when Scandinavians win condamned Morocco).

This doesn't absolutely means Roger bribed the match or that he "left" Del Potro imposing in the last three games condamning Andy. King Roger has too sportsmanship in his blood and too many pride to accept losing a match in his beloved London without fighting at his best.

So Andy, last year entrenched in a counter-productive battle against the Swiss in the last RR day, when he was already qualified for a semi he played exhausted and easily lost, has today lived the dark side of a formula thought for the business, for the "circus", the show, not for the sport. Otherwise, in the defined criteria to decide the ranking when two players won the same number of match, the result of the direct meeting should have been a factor.

But it is not so and Murray has paid for that, after a match confirming the hydiosycrasis of Spanish players for London (they were two, nobody has gone to the semis, Rafa has only the chance to save the pride and win at least a match against Djokovic). And paid for a match played with an irritating fence sitter mood that probably satisfies Corretja, coherently follows Andy's admiration for Rafa Nadal, but gave public a reason more to fall asleep, helped in that by lights concentrated on courts but leaving the crowd in the dark, outside from the event. Nine double faults and just 1 break point converted out of 13 marked the stuttering match of the dangling vampire who didn't concede break points in a fenobarbital-full first set before losing the second in a dramatic tiebreak and sealing the match, after another fearsom one, when Verdasco sent his forehand follow-up to the serve just wide across court.

Nonetheless his fever, his fears, his tremblings, Andy went two-points far from the semis when Del Potro, after demolishing Roger in a perfect first set, served at 5-4 in the second set tiebreak. If Palito had transformed that two chances he not only would have won the match, but he would have erased in the same time the dream of Roger to win his fifth Masters Cup, overriding Nastase and equalling Pete Sampras in the Hall of Fame.

But Delpo wasted before a forehand and then a backhand into the net to let Roger level the match and make the qualification be decided by the games percentage. Murray tasted the semis again thrice, in a tantalising third set when he went just one point away to the best four. When Roger, at 3-3, had 3, not-consecutive, break points to go leading 4-3. Delpo fired an insideout forehand into the net to 15-40; he saved the first break point with a forehand winner across court while the second went begging whrn Roger sent an attempted backhand down the line into the net. Soon after the year-end number 1 gained another chance with a forehand smash. Delpo saved it with an unreturnable 112 mph second serve and held with a deja vu, a forehand pass down the line confirmed good by the Hawk Eye (5-4, Us Open final second set, anyone?).

At that point Federer was already qualified and Delpo, with that game, gained the pass to the semis making the last three games a bitter as gall appendix for Murray.

Show must go on, they say. But a tournament where a player could theorically decide to promote an opponent more than another, because he's weaker, or simply nicer, is not a serious matter. It's a show, good for televisions and merchandising, for businesses and media, not surely tennis.

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