October 9, 2021
Andy Murray rolled back the years with a masterful display at Indian Wells.
He beat Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 6-2 with a beautiful repertoire.
The highlight was a deft lob to end a 26-shot rally and bring the crowd to their feet.
The battling Brit closed out the contest with a fading drop shot that was simply too clever for Mannarino.
Murray was delighted with his performance and said: ‘I felt I competed well and adapted to the breezy conditions.
‘I didn’t try to overplay, I used my slice quite a lot and varied the heights.’
It was no mean feat for Andy to make Mannarino look so ordinary.
The Frenchman outplayed the great Roger Federer for much of their Wimbledon Centre Court contest this summer.
He only succumbed to an injury after falling awkwardly towards the end of the fourth set.
Federer admitted afterwards that Mannarino had been better on the day.
So where does this win leave Murray? He is definitely edging nearer to his very best level.
The talented Scot could still find it tough against young hot-shot Carlos Alcaraz in the next round.
But looking further ahead we can expect an exciting campaign from Andy Murray at Wimbledon 2022.
And that’s something for us all to look forward to as we approach the English winter.
Meanwhile Emma Raducanu struggled to rediscover the form that won her the US Open in such sensational style.
We did suggest she might stutter initially after a month in the celebrity spotlight.
Raducanu looked tired and flat as she was overcome by world number 100 Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
The underdog from Belarus let her shots flow in fine style to win 6-2, 6-4.
Emma snatched at her own strokes and looked for winners too early in rallies.
Raducanu had a chance to get right back into contention when she broke to lead 4-2 in the second.
But her concentration and willpower seemed to be absent this time around.
Her decision-making left plenty to be desired in this beautiful desert setting.
But she will soon learn to cope with the added pressure of being a favourite on tour.
Emma appealed for understanding afterwards and paid tribute to her Belarusian opponent: ‘She played an extremely good match and you could tell she was more experienced than me.
‘I’ll look at the match again tomorrow with a clear head but I’m not match-tight right now. I hadn’t played since the US Open and my form will come back with matches.
‘I’m still so new to everything and the experiences I’m going through.
‘For the greater good and bigger picture I’ll thank this moment. I’m eighteen years old, I’ll need to cut myself some slack.’
Make no mistake, Emma Raducanu will be back to her very best for Wimbledon 2022.
For now she is just adapting to life as a celebrity tennis player.
But she will love the reception she gets when she returns to the All England Club next summer.
Will you be there to welcome her?