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Andy Murray Aims for Madrid Masters Quarters

While Andy Murray seemingly has an easy path into the Madrid Open quarterfinals, his form of late suggests he might find more adversity rather than success.

Things have been falling apart for Murray since the Aussie Open final where he succumbed rather meekly to le maestro, Federer. Since Melbourne, he has been a shadow of his former self – gone is the cocky trash-talking and back are the mopes. So depressing is the status quo that it wouldn’t be surprising if we were treated to more mopes today. 

Pundits though believe because of this favourable section, a quarterfinal spot is a natural extension of that good fortune and possibly even deeper spots are within reach in Madrid. Markets are dancing to the same tune, convinced things are looking up for the Scottish lad that has been down on his luck recently.

To begin with, let there be no illusions. Murray has one match under his belt and that is a victory over a less than threatening Juan Ignacio Chela. Let us not read into it overly. I for one am going to give his win over an on-his-way-out veteran Chela in the second round as much attention as it this space...

Next up is Victor Hanescu of Romania in the third round – another veteran, mind, that might not pose a threat to most top five players, but could trouble Murray on clay. Hanescu is a decent clay courter. Murray’s game on the dirt leaves something to be desired. Keep in mind, he is also mentally suspect right now.

Murray did beat Hanescu last year at the ATP Monte Carlo R32 6-3, 6-2. At the time though, Murray was full of confidence and playing his best clay-court tennis ever. To date, his account at the prestigious Monaco event is his best ever on clay.

Having said all that Murray should be winning matches like these even on his least favourite surface. Problem is, he hasn't done so this season with any conviction. One can’t ignore the fact that Murray is an underwhelming 11-6 on the season, without any titles. Moreover, in two events this season, he was dumped in his opening match – Miami and Monte Carlo. In another two events he stumbled in his second match – Dubai and Rome.

Murray is in a crisis of confidence and that makes him a vulnerable player to the upset yet having said that, and aside from Hanescu’s clay-court prowess (which is average at best) there is little else to recommend the upset. I know that. But I happen to think that is enough in this case to give Hanescu a real shot, which makes him a value bet on the outright win.

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