A THIRST for revenge will inspire defending champion Andy Murray to overcome Stanislas Wawrinka in today’s US Open quarter-finals, according to former British No1 Tim Henman.
Murray has won the majority of his 13 previous clashes with Wawrinka but lost to the Swiss in their most recent meeting in April and, says Henman, will still be smarting from a defeat to him at this grand slam in 2010.
The Scot set up the chance to make amends, and stayed on course for a likely semi-final against world No1 Novak Djokovic, with a four-set win over Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin on Tuesday night.
“Wawrinka is a dangerous player – fit, strong, and with one of the best single-handed backhands in the game – and he beat Andy in the US Open third round in 2010. Andy is a very different player now though,” said Henman.
“His game hasn’t changed massively, but he’s a totally different player mentally because of his experience. He has an extra gear that Wawrinka doesn’t have.
“He also likes confrontation. He will like the feeling that he needs to get revenge on Wawrinka for three years ago. He likes that adversity. He will have that match in the back of his mind, and will want to put the record straight. I think it will make Andy play some of his best tennis, and I would see Andy coming through in four close sets.
“It’s a feature of his personality: if you tell Andy he can’t do something, or remind him of something that went wrong in the past, it concentrates his mind even more.
“We all talk about not being aware the draw and the matches coming up, but Andy’s knowledge is encyclopaedic. He will be aware of exactly which matches he has played against every opponent left in the draw, what’s gone on with them, the type of rivalry he has with them, and he’ll use that to stamp his authority on it to turn the tables and come out with a different result.”
Henman, who is set to play in London at the Statoil Masters in December, predicts another classic if Murray meets Djokovic in the last four, and played down the Briton’s failure to dazzle in earlier rounds.
“The schedule early on didn’t do him any favours but I’ve been impressed with the way he’s just got on with his job,” he added. “So far so good. You can’t win a Grand Slam tournament in the first week, but you can certainly lose it. I expect him to beat Wawrinka and set up the semi-final against Djokovic that everyone wants to see.”
Tim Henman will compete in the Statoil Masters Tennis with John McEnroe, Goran Ivanisevic and Pat Rafter at the Royal Albert Hall, 4-8 December. Hospitality packages are available from £175. Call 020 8233 5854 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more: www.statoilmasterstennis.com