Spanish Tennis Champion Tommy Robredo must be wondering what he has to do to win a tennis tournament. In the space of just over a month he held no fewer than 10 match points over two title matches in two different countries yet he failed to convert any of them. Andy Murray somehow managed to save all 10 match points with a will to win and a refusal to lose.
The Shenzhen Open in China in September saw Robredo lead by a set and 6 points to 2 in the second set tie breaker before somehow finding a way to lose all of them . He held another match point at 7-6 before Murray took the breaker 11-9. The final set was all one way traffic in a 6-1 romp to Murray . A loss like that from a commanding position would no doubt be soul destroying however it seemed that Robredo was philosophical in defeat and headed to Beijing.
When a player loses a tight match it can test the mind in many ways and he lost in the round of 16 to John Isner in a third set tie break. Perhaps Robredo was now starting to doubt his ability to win the close ones and his very next tournament perhaps proved the theory correct. He lost to a player ranked more than 60 places behind him , again in a third set breaker. Mikhael Kukushkin has been playing well of late but should be no match for a player of Robredo's experience. Maybe he got the Spaniard at a time where his mental state was at an all time low, he had lost his ability to close out a match.
The Valencia Title match against Andy Murray was almost history repeating itself as Robredo lead by a set and held two match points in the second set tie break , he failed to convert either. He broke Murray to lead 4-3 in the final set , was broken back immediately but then held a further 3 match points in the tie breaker.
The point at 6-5 was one that if Robredo could have his time again I am sure he would have played it differently. After a huge forehand inside out to Murray's backhand he had the Brit right where he wanted him but he made a huge mistake by not coming in behind it. In fact his forehand was that good that it was a surprise that Murray got it back at all but his backhand slice offered Robredo a choice.
If the Spaniard had followed the forehand to the net I am certain he would now be the Valencia Open Champion but he chose to step back and hit an awkward half volley that allowed Murray back into the point. Murray in fact closed this particular point out with a winning volley after reversing the roles of perhaps 4 shots earlier. The 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 win by Murray will go down in history as a fantastic title match but the two tie breakers that Robredo lost by 9-7 and 10-8 will also be looked upon as chances that went begging.
Would Roger Federer have come in after hitting a forehand as good as the one that Robredo hit on his third match point at 6-5 in the breaker ?
I have no doubt he would have as the Swiss Genius is a man who can sense an opportunity better than any other current player when it comes to finishing a point. When it comes to decision making the top ten in the World are where they are for a reason. Robredo currently sits at number 21 at age 32 with time running out to clinch tournament victories.
What was going through Murray's head when faced with 10 match points against him over two title matches with Robredo is anyone's guess but it shows why he is as good as he is. Tennis is a game full of split decisions, some simply decide how to play them better than others......