By Mark Poulose
KEY BISCAYNE - Andy Murray calmly took care of business in the third round on Sunday, dispatching 27th seeded Colombian Santiago Giraldo 6-3, 6-4 on a serene day session at the Crandon Park Tennis Center.
Murray, who makes a second home in Miami and is a two-time champion, navigated the familiar confines at Stadium court with confidence. Against Giraldo, Murray shifted from defense to offense with ease, orchestrating a tactical cat-and-mouse game he uses to devastating effect when he’s at his best. Giraldo had no counter to Murray’s strategy.
“I played well. I thought it was a good performance,” said Murray. “[Giraldo] came out and starting swinging a bit towards the end of the match and made it a little bit tricky, but I thought for the most part I played very well.”
Giraldo, who does not possess a big serve, could not match Murray from the baseline. Murray baited and pounced on Giraldo, changing pace while hitting aggressively, effectively never letting Giraldo find a consistent rhythm.
Murray also dominated while on serve, winning 86% of his first serve points, being broken just once. In contrast, Giraldo battled to hold serve for much of the match, and seemed content with putting the ball in play and rallying with Murray. The strategy did not pay off.
When Giraldo was forced to hit his second serve, Murray often returned from well inside the baseline. Murray broke Giraldo three times, dominating the Colombian’s serve throughout the match.
With the victory on Sunday, Murray stands just one shy of 500 career victories. A win Tuesday in the fourth round would make the 27-year-old the ninth active player with 500 wins and the 46th man in the Open Era to reach the milestone.
Murray recently surpassed Tim Henman for the most wins in British men’s tennis history with his 497th quarterfinal victory last week at Indian Wells.
“It’s nice [to be so close to 500 victories],” said Murray. “The list of players that have won that many matches, you know, there isn’t loads… It’s not easy these days to win that many matches, so that’s a good sign.”
“I obviously want to try and win more, and hopefully still have quite a few years ahead of me left to add to that number.”
Murray takes on 15-seed Kevin Anderson in his next match. Anderson is a hulking 6-8 South African with a big serve who reached a career high ranking of 15 on January 19.
“I’m going to have to come out being aggressive,” Anderson said. “But at the same time, be patient as well. Pick the right times. Because if you are too aggressive at the wrong opportunities, he definitely makes you pay for that.”
For Giraldo, this made his seventh tournament appearance at Miami, reaching the third round for the first time. Giraldo is also in the doubles draw, teaming with Slovakian Martin Klizan. Klizan took the No. 1 player in the world Novak Djokovic to three sets during the Saturday evening session.