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Andy Murray is in good shape for clay court season, says Barry Cowan

Barry Cowan Posted 2nd April 2013 view comments

Andy Murray won one of the most dramatic Masters finals I've ever seen on Sunday and is now in a great place ahead of the upcoming clay court season.

The three-set Sony Open final in Miami between Murray and Ferrer may not have been of the highest quality but it kept you on the edge of your seat throughout.

It was also another example of the Scot's battling spirit and ability to fight back to clinch victory when he appears to be out of a contest.

Murray: won a dramatic Miami Masters final against Ferrer

Murray: won a dramatic Miami Masters final against Ferrer

A double-break in the first set left Murray trailing 5-0 but, given his track record, I still felt he had a chance to win that set and the match.

He didn't pull that off but his will to win was never in question and he even saved a match point before winning the third set tie-break in style.

Whilst there were plenty of people criticising Murray's decision to have such a long break between the Australian Open and Indian Wells, I felt he would build momentum over the two American events.

Challenge

He didn't play his best tennis at Indian Wells but last week showed he was improving and his level got better and better; he didn't play his best tennis in the final, either, but that was partly down to the conditions - the court was slow - and his opponent, Ferrer, who makes you hit so many balls.

The final was another example of Murray's battling spirit and ability to fight back to clinch victory when he appears to be out of a contest.

Barry Cowan
Quotes of the week

For Ferrer, Sunday was the latest in a long line of disappointing results in finals against the best players in the world.

The Spaniard has a 0-13 record in finals against the top four and he just lacks the extra 1-2 per cent in his tennis, which reflects the doubts he has which can be all the difference required to get over the line.

His line call challenge on match point was an error; you could tell by his reaction that he knew the ball was in but he made a hopeful call.

He got the ball back and he should have let Murray play the half-court forehand because they're not as easy to convert when you're facing match-point.

He's four in the world and a great player but Ferrer doesn't have that same conviction he's going to win finals as Murray has.

Onwards

Murray is well set ahead of Monte Carlo, which starts a week on Sunday and marks the switch to the red dirt.

He said after the final he needs to work on his serve but I think that comment was more about ensuring he doesn't rest on his laurels. He didn't serve terribly but he wants to get better and better.

That attitude will serve him well but his move to two in the world will also boost his Grand Slam chances.

Rafa Nadal has a lot of points to defend over the next few weeks so it is unlikely he'll go into the French Open at number four in the world and with Roger Federer now out of the top two the draw at Roland Garros could see Nadal, Federer and Novak Djokovic all in the top half of the draw with Murray in the other section, along with Ferrer.

Murray's rise to two, behind Djokovic, also marks the first occasion since 2003 that neither Nadal nor Federer have featured in the top two spots. However, despite the pedigree of Djokovic and Murray we've not just witnessed an era shift and I certainly wouldn't discount Nadal from challenging for the number one spot again by the end of the season.

Rafa has got better and better since his comeback in February after seven months out through injury and his performance at Indian Wells was quite incredible, a year on from his last hard court appearance.

Tough

However, it is becoming tougher and tougher for Federer to regain the top slot.

To be world number one you need to be playing in about 20 events a season and the message Federer has sent by not playing Miami or Monte Carlo is that number one is off his radar at the moment.

That may change next year but currently his target is to be in great physical shape for Wimbledon and the US Open, the two Slams he has the best chances of winning

Last season he was below his best at the US Open and you have to wonder how much the pursuit of the number one spot took out of him.

He's taken a break now - which I believe is a good move for him at this time of the season after appearing to be below par - and there's no doubt he'll still be competitive in big tournaments later in the season.

But I don't believe he'll be contesting top spot in the rankings in 2013.

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