Andy's stroke of genius

DENIS POISSANT, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

MONTREAL -- Andy Murray may not be the best server or the strongest man on the pro circuit, but the 22-year-old possesses an intelligence when it comes to tennis that is superior to most.

Yesterday, he proved that yet again in his first match since Wimbledon, handily knocking off France's Jeremy Chardy (36th) by a 6-4, 6-2 score.

It was nothing fancy, but Murray showed he is capable of pulling off that old-school stroke of genius at just the right moment. Following the match, Chardy gave Murray all of the credit.

"He varies his strokes so well," he said. "There's a reason why he is one of the best in the world.

"Every time I play a big player, I have the impression that they don't take any risks, that they play it safe," Chardy said. "From time to time, they let go a few more risque (shots), but everything they do, they master."

Yesterday, Chardy went on the offensive a few times with the intention of controlling the point only to fall into Murray's trap.

"He slows down the game," Chardy said. "So you think that you are attacking, but you're (not). I got excited too often and he put the pressure on.

'Vary the pace'

As for Murray, nothing seems to get him riled up, a calmness that is a by-product of his formative years, notably in Barcelona, where he played older and more established players.

"I had to find other ways to win," he said. "My game is to vary the pace. Most players have different strategies for every match, but mine work because of the variety of my strokes."

Chardy said he was frustrated that he couldn't change things up during the match as well as missing out on 10 break-point opportunities.

But despite the loss, Chardy said he learned important lessons from the match.

"Playing against such a strong player showed me my strengths and my weaknesses," he said, adding that he can see that he is improving and that is driving him to work even harder.

Murray, for his part, isn't getting ahead of himself, even though he can become the world's number two if he reaches the tournament's final (and if Nadal loses in the semis), or if he wins the title.

"I'm thinking about it a bit, but that's the last thing on my mind when I'm playing a match," he said.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer returned to the court with a two-set win over Canada's Frederic Niemeyer, while Peter Polansky put up a fight, but it wasn't enough to pull off an upset win over fourth-seeded Novak Djokovic yesterday at the US$3 million Rogers Cup.

Federer, who took time off after his victory at Wimbledon in June while his wife gave birth to twin girls, took a set to find his range and then the world No. 1 from Switzerland put away the low-ranked Niemeyer 7-6 (3), 6-4 in second round play before a full house of 11,490 on centre court at Uniprix Stadium.

Spurred by the enthusiastic crowd, the Thornhill, Ont., native Polansky shot off to a 3-0 lead in the first set before Djokovic bounced back for a 6-4, 7-6 (6) victory.

Also, Daniel Nestor's Rogers Cup doubles title may be on the line before he even has a chance to defend it.

The Toronto native is still recovering from a mystery elbow ailment that forced him to pull out of the men's doubles semifinal of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, D.C., last week, and Nestor is unable to guarantee he'll be ready to play by his opening match tomorrow.

Nestor had a very light practice session early yesterday evening with his left elbow taped, and he was clearly holding back as he hit light serves and winced on his forehand volleys.


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