First things first: Dominic Thiem is no longer carrying a virus. Thiem played some “sick” tennis on Friday in Beijing — not in a literal sense, but in the positive sense of the term. Flying around the court with ample stick on his shots, Thiem was too much for Andy Murray.
Thiem announced himself as a threat in the stretch run of the season; his big goal will be to make a run at the ATP Finals in London.
Andy Murray needed Thiem to be the sluggish, health-affected performer he had been for the previous few months. Thiem recovered, which is bad luck for Murray.
Yet, while Murray ran into the wrong version of Thiem, relative to the goal of winning this match, Murray should probably be thankful to Thiem for raising his game. Thiem, by playing a high-level match, showed Murray exactly how far the 32-year-old must travel to lift his game back to a major-tournament standard.
That is information Murray can use… and to be clear: Murray did not look bad in this match.
Murray and Thiem played at least 10 highlight-reel points in the first six games of the match. They unfurled dazzling, prolonged, nuanced, all-court exchanges which recalled Murray’s best attributes.
Thiem, however, was locked in, and Murray hasn’t played enough tennis at a high level since his return to the court to be expected to handle Thiem’s fastballs.
Murray has to be thrilled not only with how he played an in-form version of Thiem, but that he did so in a quarterfinal after having beaten a quality opponent, Matteo Berrettini, earlier in the week in Beijing.
Murray grabbed a significant win; didn’t suffer a letdown; showed appreciable stamina; and got to measure his game against a top-10 opponent.
Could Murray have asked for more in Beijing? Yes: a win and a semifinal berth.
However, he truly can’t complain with the productive nature of his week.
This doesn’t cement or guarantee a rise to the very top of men’s tennis for Andrew Barron Murray. It does, however, make that ascent a lot more possible and realistic.
Not bad, Andy. Not bad.
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