Murray dumped out by Ramos-Vinolas at Monte Carlo Masters

Spain's Albert Ramos-Vinolas celebrates his victory over Britain's Andy Murray at the end of their Monte-Carlo ATP Masters Series tennis tournament on Thursday in Monaco. (AFP)
Updated 20 April 2017
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Murray dumped out by Ramos-Vinolas at Monte Carlo Masters

MONACO: Top-ranked Andy Murray threw away a 4-0 lead in the deciding set of his third-round match on Thursday as 15th-seeded Albert Ramos-Vinolas won 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 at the Monte Carlo Masters.
Murray, who is returning after a spell out with a right elbow injury, looked rusty on the clay-court surface and struggled on his serve in a scrappy match lasting more than 2 ½ hours and featuring 13 service breaks — including seven against Murray, who struggled with the Spaniard’s heavy forehands.
“I’m disappointed to lose from the position that I was in,” said Murray, last year’s French Open runner-up. “Being 4-love up in the third, I haven’t lost many matches like that in my career.”
Ramos-Vinolas faces fifth-seeded Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals. The Croatian reached the last eight after beating No. 9 Tomas Berdych 6-2, 7-6 (0).
Former French Open and Monte Carlo champion Stan Wawrinka followed Murray out of the tournament, losing 6-4, 6-4 to 16th-seeded Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay.
Wawrinka never found his touch or range and conceded match point when his backhand pass — normally one of the best shots in men’s tennis — clipped the net and went out. Cuevas hit a sweet forehand winner down the line on the next point and raised his arms in the air after beating Wawrinka in their first-ever meeting.
Murray was also facing an opponent for the first time, and a double break put him 4-0 up in the decider but 24th-ranked Ramos-Vinolas broke back twice to level the match at 4-4.
“He obviously started playing better toward the end of the set. I still had a bunch of chances, I guess both of us did really,” Murray said. “I should have been able to do enough to sort of weather that storm a little bit and finish the match off.”
Murray also struggled in the ninth game, taken to deuce before finally holding and then unsuccessfully pressuring the Spaniard’s serve in the next game. After breaking Murray’s serve again, Ramos-Vinolas served out the match on his second match point.
He sent a backhand wide on his first match point and then clinched victory when Murray’s backhand hit the net.
Murray refused to blame the elbow injury that ruled him out of the Miami Open and the recent Davis Cup quarterfinal against France.
“My elbow felt pretty good,” he said. “That’s only going to get better. So hopefully I keep going in the right direction.”
It was more a case of Murray being unable to play his natural game.
“I don’t hit the ball as hard as a lot of the guys. I normally beat guys by maneuvering them around the court rather than blasting them off the court,” he said. “A few times today, I made some bad decisions. That’s something that, with my team, I’ll look at (and) watch some parts of the match over.”
In a match between powerful hitters, Cilic was serving for victory at 5-4. After a long game Berdych broke back for 5-5 and then forced a tiebreaker, but the Czech player wilted against the 2014 US Open champion.
No. 11 Lucas Pouille of France was leading 3-0 when countryman Adrian Mannarino retired with a hip problem.


‘We want to make Saudi Arabia proud’: Pizzi promises better showing against Egypt

Updated 38 min 32 sec ago
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‘We want to make Saudi Arabia proud’: Pizzi promises better showing against Egypt

  • Saudi Arabia cannot progress from Group A even if they defeat Egypt in their final game on Monday
  • Wednesday’s overall performance was much improved, yet a lack of penetrative passing was obvious

ROSTOV-ON-DON: “Keeping possession of the ball seems to be the absolute and most important thing, but then when you sometimes find issues in getting the ball into your opponent’s half, you have to find other movements and ways of doing that,” said Oscar Tabarez after watching his lackluster Uruguay rely on a solitary Luis Suarez goal to eliminate Saudi Arabia from the World Cup. 
Tabarez was talking about his own team’s struggles, yet the assessment is considerably more applicable to the Green Falcons, who dominated possession and retained the ball with ease in midfield, yet for the second match running looked absolutely bereft of ideas in the final third. With Uruguay and Russia now on six points, Saudi Arabia cannot progress from Group A even if they defeat Egypt in their final game on Monday.
The Green Falcons coach Juan Antonio Pizzi confirmed he intends to stay at the helm of the side for the long-haul, yet is only too aware that the potential of this team is being hamstrung by its inability to score. He called it “our weakness”, adding that his side enjoyed “good ball possession, but no effectiveness”. They, he said, did not have the sufficient “weapons or tools” to equalize.
Pizzi’s side have found the net now just twice in their past five games and against Uruguay managed only three shots on target in 90 minutes — two of which came in added time and were so tame they would hardly have troubled the opposition goalkeeper Fernando Muslera had he been relaxing at his far post sipping a drink. In the 5-0 defeat to Russia last week, they failed to muster a single shot on target. 
Wednesday’s overall performance was much improved, yet a lack of penetrative passing was obvious. One passage of play in the opening exchanges saw Saudi Arabia complete 16 passes untroubled without the ball entering the opposition penalty box. When Uruguay finally won possession, they required only four quick exchanges to find Edinson Cavani on the left wing drilling the ball across the front of goal. 
“I don’t share that assessment,” said Pizzi, when it was put to him that his team was too slow to attack. “We played at the speed that was necessary. We need to be accurate, but if you step up the speed you lose accuracy with your passes. We had control of the game and that was why.”
Striker Mohammed Al-Sahlawi had been the focal point of much criticism from Turki Al-Sheikh, the head of Saudi’s General Sports Authority, after the Russia “fiasco” and was dropped from the side against Uruguay. So too was goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf, another who Al-Sheikh name-checked as having been at fault.
Pizzi, asked whether the scathing assessment from his bosses had forced his hand when it came to team selection, calmly dismissed the suggestion. He also ruled out the notion that administrative issues between the players and the country’s football federation had caused unrest in his squad.
“I have a list of 23 players here and they are all available to play. We are here together and pushing in the same direction. 
“I wanted — and still want — to make the Saudi Arabian people feel proud of our energy and the desire we show in matches. Unfortunately we were unable to do that against Russia and will be playing our next match without any hope of progressing. I hope now they will feel a little more proud even though we are out of the World Cup,” he said.