Simon Reed

Shanghai tales teach us little

Simon Reed

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When it came to last week's Shanghai Masters I wasn't at all surprised by anything that happened until the final between Andy Murray and Roger Federer.

I have to say I was taken aback by just how poorly Federer played in that decider. He does seem to have a thing about Murray away from the Grand Slams - but is that so significant? Maybe not.

In the final, though, Roger lost his way completely and it looked like he just didn't have the fight within himself to work it out; however I suspect that was just because it was 'only' a Masters event.

He was similarly under the cosh for a while at this year's Australia Open, but that was a Grand Slam, and he made sure he found a way to win.

Will the same thing happen this year in Melbourne? It might well do, and we need to see Murray deliver a knockout blow like he did in Shanghai at least once in a Major before we can get too excited.

When that happens, Andy could be on his way. I feel if he can get a win over Federer in a Grand Slam event then Roger might never beat him again, but until that happens, there is still a noose around Andy's neck.

The victory in Shanghai was important to Murray but I don't think we have moved on at all after this victory. It kind of feels like we are back at the place we were just before the US Open.

What happened to Andy in New York, when he lost to Stanislas Wawrinka, was very strange and it did look like Andy was about to go through a really tough time - but this victory has halted that slide and it shows that he is not in dire need of a coach or anything like that.

What we saw in Shanghai was as good as anything we have seen him produce in the past, but, as things stand, if Federer or Nadal come knocking on the door in the semi-final or the final of a Grand Slam, you would expect both of them to beat Andy. Until he shows us otherwise.

However, I don't think he needs to modify his game too much or anything drastic like that. I think at the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year he got the balance about right.

I don't think he has played any worse in Grand Slams (with the exception of the US Open) than he has done in any other events; the problem is that Nadal and Federer go up another notch in these events and it is not a notch that Murray has yet been able to find.

That, for me, is the difference: it is not about Andy, it is to do with the other two guys.

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Rafael Nadal's defeat to Jurgen Melzer in Shanghai is not something that really surprised me too much to be honest.

As I mentioned last week, from now on you just have to think of Nadal as a Grand Slam player, particularly after what happened this year.

I think his performances and results are going to slow down in the non-Major events and we will start to see more and more no-shows from him too, in a similar way that you have seen with Federer in the last few seasons.

Credit to Melzer for the victory though and I have to admit that I'm surprised at how well he has done this season. I never had him down as a player who would be knocking on the door of the top 10.

I've watched him a lot of him over the years and he always seemed to be working hard on his game without finding the right formula - but the penny must have dropped somewhere.

He hasn't fundamentally altered his game or anything to my eye, but he just seems to be playing a lot better and these thing feed off themselves: wins lead to more wins, confidence leads to more confidence, and he is on a high now and getting used to coming out on top when he facing the bigger-name players.

Good on him, too, because it shows the merits of hard grafting.

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In contrast to Melzer, you have Nikolay Davydenko who has fallen out of the top 10; with him we have seen the snowball effect working in the opposite direction.

He was flying this time last year, but has since had injuries - and that has led to a loss of confidence. His serve has completely deserted him again, his forehand is all over the place and he is a shadow of his former self.

It is going to be an interesting close season for him because he needs to come back really sharp or things could get ugly.

He used to be the model of consistency and very fast but he is now mistiming balls he never would have used to. I think he just has to put this season down as a write-off and hopefully bounce back next year, but it could be a tough road back.

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