Everyone thinks of Los Angeles as having 80 degree weather and blue skies every day, and while for the most part that’s true, sometimes it can get down right frosty in these parts. For the night matches taking part at the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles, cool nights have become part of the norm including tonight as top seed Andy Murray made his L.A. debut taking on American Tim Smyczek. And while at first it looked like Murray would have a quick workout tonight, the match turned into quite the battle for the Scot who not only struggled with Smyczek’s depth of shot but also his movement as well.
Murray, who only lost two points on his serve, raced through through the first set 6-1 in under 30 minutes and it looked like it would be a quick end to the American’s run through the qualifying rounds into the main draw. But the second set saw a whole new match as Smyczek kept up with Murray’s groundstrokes and employed a successful game plan of pinning Murray behind the baseline before tossing in drop shots to pull Murray up so he could pass him along with being the first to jump on short balls that made for easy winners. Smyczek broke Murray at 5-3 and then later served out the set to the delight of the crowd.
By this time, Murray seemed not only to be battling Smyczek’s inspired play but himself as well as Murray would bend over from time to time, although it was unclear if Murray was actually injured. Both players exchanged early breaks in the final set before Murray found the rhythm on his serve again along with adopting Smyczek’s game plan of coming forward first and using touch at the net. By the time Murray broke for 4-2, it was clear he’d finally regained control of the match and finally won it 6-2 in the third set off of a winning passing shot.
Murray took a long time getting to his press conference after receiving treatment in the physio room and when asked if had injured himself, Murray instead said it was the cold night that caused him to feel stiff around his hip and upper part of his right leg, but that he didn’t think it would be an issue for the rest of the tournament. He also cited that some of his problems tonight were part of not having played any matches in four weeks after Wimbledon along with a lengthy vacation break in Miami where he “sat around on a beach and did nothing for two weeks.”
Inevitably, questions arose about Murray’s recent coaching changes and who he might choose. Murray did confirm that he was still working with part-time consultant Alex Corretja but that whomever he hires as a new coach would have to be able to get along with Corretja who only works with Murray for ten to twelve weeks during the year. When pressed on specific names for his new coach, Murray admitted, “I haven’t looked at anyone. I only made the announcement (about parting ways with Miles Maclagan) four days ago so I haven’t had time to think about it.”
Murray was asked what local sights he planned on checking out in the L.A. area during his brief stay. Murray dwelled on this a bit and then finally said, “Dunno actually. Celebrities. Or go around the shops or restaurants. I’m not really a sightseeing sort of person but would be nice to drive around Beverly Hills and see all the houses or whatnot.”
We’ll see how much “whatnot” Murray can discover in the City of Angels as he’ll be playing each day of the tournament from now until Sunday if he makes it that far. Hopefully he’ll be better prepared for another chilly night under the stars as he takes on Colombia’s Alejandro Falla in the quarterfinals.