Murray's aggression was clear against Michael Llodra, the Frenchman falling victim to the full power of a fearsome volley from the Scot

Andy Murray is a rather unfortunate individual, when one considers his current position. He is, no matter his quite clearly Scottish background, identity and heritage, Britain’s main tennis hope. The frustrated dreams of an island rest on the shoulders of the 24-year-old, currently the world number four. Thus, whenever it comes around to Wimbledon, and let’s face it, this is the only time most people take any interest in professional tennis, a bubble of hype is created that expands exponentially over the first week, only to pop when Murray bravely loses out in the latter stages. These defeats are often at the hands of the three tennis “greats” of the current crop; Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

If Murray were to retire now, he would forever be remembered, as Tim Henman was, as the “nearly man.”

Yet to win a grand slam, the Australian Open is where Murray has come closest in recent years to achieving that exalted prize. The recent arrival of former world number one Ivan Lendl as coach appears to have revitalised Murray, at least this is the media consensus thus far. The Scot was aggressive and relentless against Michael Llodra, twice winner and twice runner-up in Melbourne, roaring to victory in three sets. He then proceeded to profit from injury-plagued Kazakh Mikhail Kukushin, in a match Murray described as “boring,” played out in the searing Australian heat. Murray was once again tenacious and aggressive in his play, hitting four aces and achieving a strong first serve percentage, as opposed to the dismal afternoon suffered by Kukushin.

Next up lies Japanese world number 24 Kei Nishikori, who knocked big-hitting Jo-Wilfried Tsonga out in the previous round. Murray has two big advantages over his quarter-final opponent, however, including a winning record over Nishikori, and the rest that his rather one-sided clash with Kukushin (which ended after the Kazakh retired, the score at [6-1] [6-1] [1-0*]) has allowed the grand slam hopeful. It’s hard to judge Murray on the basis of a match ended by retirement, however, his sharpness is undeniable, and he at last appears ready to take the more aggressive style of play that proved so effective against Llodra into his armoury on a permanent basis.

[Photo courtesy of AFP].

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