Commentary

Murray avoids volatile situation

Updated: March 29, 2012, 12:17 AM ET
By Greg Garber | ESPN.com

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -- It was probably just a coincidence, but when Andy Murray lost Wednesday's first set and was broken to open the second, he called for the ATP trainer. Even before that last ball from Janko Tipsarevic skittered past him, he had stopped running and pressed his hand to his queasy midsection.

Read into it what you wish, but at that point Murray did not appear to have the stomach or any kind of appetite for the mini-majors in Indian Wells and Miami.

A few tablets for indigestion cleared up the potentially, uh, volatile situation and Murray rallied nicely -- almost comfortably -- to land a spot in the Sony Ericsson Open semifinals. The No. 4 seed won 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 and will play the winner of the night match between No. 2 Rafael Nadal and No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Later, Murray said he may have over-hydrated for the match.

"I don't know," he said. "Stomach was filled with liquid. Each time I took a sip I wanted to burp, basically."

To be honest, the match was hardly an artistic success. At 2 hours, 38 minutes, like some movies, it could have been an hour shorter and no one would have complained.

Both players seemed content to center the ball until someone lost his focus and got sloppy. For the last two sets, it was most often Tipsarevic, the 27-year-old from Serbia. His last two misses -- a weakly stroked backhand and a running forehand -- weren't even close.

Tipsarevic, a top-10 player, was trying to reach the second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semifinal of his career.

[+] EnlargeAndy Murray
Al Bello/Getty ImagesAndy Murray is two wins away from duplicating his 2009 championship in Miami.

Murray, a 24-year-old from Scotland, is a curious cat. He is ranked No. 4 in the world, has all the shots and a phenomenal tennis intelligence quotient. But … he just can't seem to get past the three players ahead of him. Three times he has run all the way into a major final, and thrice he lost in straight sets -- to Roger Federer in the 2008 U.S. Open, to Federer in the 2010 Australian Open and in the 2011 Australian Open to Novak Djokovic.

He is strong-minded and has gone through a few coaches in recent years, including his mother, Judy, Brad Gilbert and Daniel Vallverdu -- and now Ivan Lendl. The acerbic eight-time Grand Slam singles champion, the thinking goes, might be able to unlock the tumblers of his subtle but elusive game.

In just three months, Lendl has seen it all. Murray lost to Djokovic in the semifinals at Melbourne but followed that up with a terrific win over the world No. 1 in the semifinals at Dubai before losing to Federer in the final. At Indian Wells, Murray contrived to lose his first match to No. 92-ranked Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

That sent him back to Miami, where he lives part time, earlier than most of the players. The extra practice probably didn't hurt, and he had an easy early run through the tournament. After beating Alejandro Falla in his first match, he was lucky when Milos Raonic pulled out with an ankle injury. A straight-sets win over Gilles Simon landed him in the quarters.

Now, he's still in the running for his seventh Masters 1000 title. After the disaster in Indian Wells, that's a relief.

"Today's match was really important for me to get through after how it was going, to fight back after being a break down a few times in the second set," Murray said. "And then also, at the end of the third set when I was up a break, he had break point in a tight game and I served my way out of trouble, which is important."

Greg Garber

Writer, Reporter
Greg Garber joined ESPN in 1991 and provides reports for NFL Countdown and SportsCenter. He is also a regular contributor to Outside the Lines and a senior writer for ESPN.com.