Vallverdu predicted Murray meeting

Published: Wednesday 28th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Andy Murray may have avoided Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open but there is no escaping a reminder of his glory days and more recent upheaval.

Murray was seeded to face Federer in the quarter-finals and Nadal in the last four in Melbourne, only to see Federer crash out in the third round and Nadal lose at the next stage to Tomas Berdych.

That means Murray takes on seventh seed Berdych on Thursday evening, a player who will have the inside track on the Wimbledon champion.

Berdych is coached by Murray’s long-term friend and former assistant coach Dani Vallverdu, who – along with fitness trainer Jez Green – left the Murray camp at the end of last season.

“It’s a great opportunity for both of them,” Vallverdu told Press Association Sport. “I am very pleased for Andy and Tomas. It’s where they belong. They have been around semi-finals and finals of slams for the last five years so it’s nothing new. It was always going to happen and it’s great it happened early.

” I actually had a feeling it would happen here. When I was flying back from the Czech Republic in December with Ross Hutchins and I told him ‘You know they are going to play in the semi-finals in Australia’.

“If you would have told me in the beginning of the tournament this was going to happen, I would have signed up for it, Tomas would have and Andy as well.”

Vallverdu has known Murray since they were teenagers at the same tennis academy in Barcelona and admits it might initially be a “bit weird” not sitting in the Scot’s box on Rod Laver Arena after their title triumphs in the US Open, Wimbledon and the Olympics.

But Murray has been through similar situations with previous coaches and Vallverdu is well aware the match will be won on the court – where Berdych leads the head-to-head 6-4 – rather than the stands.

” It’s not going to be normal but I don’t think it’s going to be strange,” Vallverdu added. “Maybe the first couple of games it will be a bit weird but it will be fine. It’s just a tennis match at the end of the day.

“I’ve been with Andy for the last five years and now I am with Tomas. We have a great game plan but at the end of the day he just has to worry about what’s happening on his side of the court.

“They both know each other pretty well, have played each other 10 times already and been at the top of the game for 10 years. It’s not rocket science, they know each other very well and it’s just about Tomas executing the game plan like he has done in the last few matches ”

Berdych has yet to drop a set in the championship and ended a record-equalling 17-match losing streak to Nadal in the quarter-finals with a stunning 6-2 6-0 7-6 victory.

” It’s huge for him,” Vallverdu acknowledged. “Mentally it’s a huge win. It also sends a strong message to the locker room. I think everyone probably watched that match and saw his determination and the manner on the court and his willingness to win. He is going to draw a lot from it.

” It proved to me how bad he wants it. It’s always a difficult conversation to have when you ask because it’s difficult to express in words, it’s easier to express it on the court and he definitely showed me that.”

Vallverdu and Murray agree that it is to Berdych’s advantage to have the 28-year-old Venezuelan in his corner, but Vallverdu knows one of Murray’s great strengths is the ability to change tactics when things are going wrong.

” It can be a little bit of an advantage but everyone that knows tennis knows everyone’s game,” he added. “Maybe I know a little bit more about him because I’ve known him for 15 years and I have watched him play millions of times.

“But Andy’s strength is that he will adjust depending how the match is going. That’s something Tomas knows as well. He knows what to do when things are not going well so even if I tell Tomas this is what he’s going to do, he might change it in the match because that’s why he has been so good throughout his career.

“Tomas needs to be ready for everything and just worry about doing things right on his side of the court and that will put him in a good position.”

Whatever happens on Thursday evening, Vallverdu and Murray will remain friends, Vallverdu adding: ” Of course. I will be very happy if Tomas wins. I will be a bit gutted for Tomas if he loses but at the same time I will be happy that Andy is in the final.”

Published: Wednesday 28th January 2015 by The News Editor

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